Organization plays active role in Joplin

Parker Willis

Joplin is adding a local National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml) to the list of its many organizations.

Kelly Maddy, president of the Joplin chapter of Norml, said he started the organization last November after being in charge of the annual Cannabis Revival at Shifferdecker Park.

The annual Cannabis Revival, normally held in the first week of September, is an event that has been taking place in Joplin since 1997 and features live music and speakers.

“That’s what got me involved,” Maddy said. “After realizing how vacant Joplin is of political and civil organizations for drug reform, I decided something had to be started in Joplin.”

Since November, the organization has been holding 7 p.m. meetings every other Thursday at Dioko Coffee House on Main Street.

The next meeting will be held on Feb. 9.

There are currently 17 active members and several loose supporters of the Joplin chapter of Norml.

“We aren’t just lazy potheads who want to sit around, smoke weed and listen to music,” Maddy said. “We are active people in the community.”

Currently, the chapter is taking steps to adopt a highway and has had speakers explaining the benefits of marijuana legalization.

Andrea Herman, from Hempoil Canada, came to one meeting and explained the industrial uses of hemp.

The male plant, non-psychoactive, can be used in fuel, food, fiber and textiles. Hemp oil has also recently been used as an anti-inflammatory for treating arthritis.

Norml also plans on having a showing of an ACLU film called “Busted” on Southern’s campus in February or March. The College Democrats will show the film.

“The film will explain your fourth amendment rights and how to protect yourself against illegal search and seizure,” Maddy said. “It will also let you know how to handle police situations respectfully but at the same time be able to enforce your rights.”

There will also be a question-and-answer session with local lawyer Mitch Cross after the showing.

Maddy said he also likes to keep his members informed of the decriminalization of marijuana laws being passed all over the United States. Recently, Rhode Island became the 11th state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. In the November election, in Denver, the recreational use of marijuana was passed. The City of Columbia also passed decriminalization of marijuana.

But that doesn’t keep users out of trouble. Maddy said the problem now is it is still illegal at the Federal level and many state levels.

“What’s important about Denver is that the majority of a major metropolitan city voted outright for legalization,” Maddy said.

But in Denver possessors must be at least 21 years old.

Maddy said the decriminalization of marijuana is more symbolic than anything right now since it is still illegal at the federal level.

“But like with any political propaganda movement we just have to put the facts out there and repeat, repeat, repeat,” Maddy said.

Some Southern students agree 750,000 arrests every year are becoming a problem.

“There are too many marijuana cases taking up the courts time,” said Madison Poiry, freshman elementary education major.

“The situation now is similar to prohibition,” said Rebecca Watts, junior mass communication major. “People are going to smoke pot whether or not it’s illegal anyways. So we might as well make it legal so we can regulate the use.”

For more information on the Joplin chapter of Norml, contact Kelly Maddy on the Norml Myspace account or through Facebook.