Advocates use music, signs to convey meassage at 4/20 event
The Columbia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosted the second annual Midlands Marijuana March at the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon, but it was a march in name only, since the NORML members stayed in one place for the whole six hours.
Instead of marching, they hosted three local bands — Risky Business, The Dubber and Sun-Dried Vibes — in support of legalizing marijuana.
“It’s getting out there more and more. People are starting to realize than there are tons and tons of benefits of cannabis,” said Dezz Archie, 22, the executive director of NORML. Archie touted the medical benefits of cannabis and its possibility as a cash crop. So did a sign that proclaimed hemp as the “Cotton for the New Millennium.”
“South Carolina is really agricultural, so there’s tons of farmland and mills right now that aren’t being used because of the economy — there just aren’t any jobs,” Archie said. “This is something that can be put back into those towns, back in those areas. More money would be spent in the state and more money would be made from taxes. Millions would be made.”
The event was strategically held on April 20 — or 4/20 — the unofficial pot holiday. According to The Huffington Post — no emphasis on the “huff” — 4/20 began in 1971 when a group of athletes, known as “The Waldos” because they hung out at a wall after school, met at 4:20 after practice to search for a mythical marijuana plot. They never found the plot, but the Grateful Dead picked up their slogan and spread it across the country.
Last 4/20, Archie said he and his friends were advocating legalization when they met some former members of the previous NORML Midlands chapter. The groups unified, and the chapter now has 20 to 30 supporters and six people on its board of directors. Christopher Kimble, director of communications for Columbia NORML and rehabilitation counseling master’s student at USC, said he joined because he is “sick and tired” of being treated like a criminal.
“I have been convicted of misdemeanors and have been turned down for jobs because of those,” Kimble said. “I’ve watched these drug wars ruin lives, hurt families and cause death. I’m a regular guy, and I’m working hard, and I’ve been affected by this.”
Kimble said marijuana is one of the safest substances known to man, and that there’s never been a death or an overdose attributed to it.
“It has so many medicinal values and ones we don’t even know about,” Kimble said. “Because the government has put it in a Schedule 1 substance category, which means no medicinal value and extremely addictive, it limits the ability to test those drugs.”
Marijuana shares its Schedule 1 Controlled Substances category with drugs such as heroin and LSD. By comparison, cocaine and morphine are listed in Schedule 2.
Still, not all who passed NORML’s rally agreed with Archie and Kimble’s message. As one woman said to her children as they walked by:
“Look at the people who turned out to support legalizing weed. They all look like a bunch of d--- hippies.”