Pubdate: Fri, 16 Apr 2004
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Sarah Schmidt
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Marijuana. Cannabis. Hemp. All of these words strike fear, confusion and 
interest. I understand that. I felt the same way. So I took the first step 
and started reading.

I could not make my own decision about how I felt about this plant until I 
had the facts. So I went to the library, and I borrowed The Emperor's New 
Clothes by Jack Herer. In this book it talks about cannabis, hemp and THC 
(tetrahydrocannibinol). This plant can be used to make textiles, fuels, 
plastics, paper, the list goes on. "Wow, that is amazing,"I thought to myself.

I had found lots of information regarding hemp, the plant with very low THC 
(not enough to get you high). Aside from this book, I had trouble finding 
information about marijuana. I could not find any statistics regarding the 
harm of this plant. In fact, I found out it is nontoxic. It shrinks 
tumours. It relieves pain. It is a muscle relaxant. This sounds very 
useful, but it is illegal. Why? Where is the harm?

The harm from using cannabis is not from the plant itself, but from 
enforcement of drug laws. Arrests cause harm, psychologically and 
physically. Why is it people are afraid to talk about it?

I spoke on behalf of Marc Emery at Lethbridge Community College March 25, 
regarding voter apathy and the power of your vote. The way I used my vote 
to the fullest was to speak up and out about the injustices I see. I can 
vote at the ballot box, but I can also vote with my dollar and with my 
voice. I relayed my experience concerning this issue and my activism in the 
cannabis community. A quarter of the way in to my presentation, I was 
interrupted and censored by the Students' Association President Preston 
Scholz. It seems my topic was too controversial. The college theatre was 
filled with about 50 students and faculty who wanted this discussion, for 
they all voiced their opinions on my behalf. They rarely get a chance to 
speak openly about this issue, which obviously was important to them. 
Censorship should not be an issue when speaking at an institution of 
education, especially if endorsed by student participation.

I think it is time we evolve as a society, and start promoting education 
and the power of knowledge. We must seek the answers to our questions. 
Prohibition has helped cloud our thinking, and now we must take back our 
right to free speech.

Sarah Schmidt, Lethbridge
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