NORML to hold rally for fun, education

By Michael Berg

A group seeking to legalize cannabis plans to discuss all aspects of the issue during a rally at NIU Wednesday.

“Hemp Day ‘93,” sponsored by the DeKalb chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), will take place from 5 p.m. until dusk at the West Lagoon.

NORML President Jonathan Sherrill said the day is held for fun and educational purposes. “It’s part of cannabis education week,” he said. “It’s held to raise people’s awareness regarding cannabis and marijuana legalization.”

The government has been giving people false information about cannabis, Sherrill said. “A lot of people have listened to years and years of government misinformation,” he said. “Marijuana hasn’t resulted in a single death, while aspirin overdoses kill thousands of people. It is impossible to overdose on marijuana.”

Sherrill pointed to a commercial made by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America that was pulled off the air. “The commercial showed brain waves, and said they were of a pot user,” Sherrill said. “It actually was the waves of a person in a coma. When the public found out, they stopped airing the commercial and the (organization) was quiet about the whole thing.”

The event has been held at NIU for many years, but Sherrill has been involved in only three of them at NIU. “It probably began in the 1960s or early 1970s, when NORML started,” he said.

The last two Hemp Days have had no police interference, Sherrill said. “The only legal hassle we’ve had is when we we’re trying to sell brownies cooked with sterilized hemp seeds,” he said. “After roasting them, they taste good, and they are nutritious. We had to give verification that sterilized hemp seeds were not marijuana and would not get you high.” Sherrill said NIU’s University Legal Counsel helped them handle the matter.

DeKalb County is no stranger to hemp, Sherrill said. “In 1943 and 1944, hemp was grown extensively in the county,” he said. “The government needed farmers to grow hemp for the war effort, to make things like uniforms, lacing and parachute webbing.”

The rally will include live music from Bradley Fish and Friends.

After the rally at 8 p.m., there will be a panel discussion at Carl Sandburg Hall in the Holmes Student Center. NORML and NIU Unity In Diversity will present the discussion on all aspects of cannabis re-legalization, including its uses as a medicine, as a cash crop and as an issue of constitutional rights.