Monday, September 23

Hemp Fest inhales students


Thursday, 4/24/97 Hemp Fest inhales students Good time, raffle
drew enthusiastic crowd to Bruin Libertarian-sponsored event

By Frances Lee Daily Bruin Contributor Got hemp? The Bruin
Libertarians did, and they weren’t shy about spreading the wealth -
or the message – that hemp is good. Cheerful Hemp Fest participants
seemed to agree. Smoking marijuana on the steps in front of
Kerckhoff Hall while listening to various speakers praise the
virtues of hemp, students were intent on having a good time. "Go
through school high – you’ll learn a lot more," shouted Craig
Ruben, a UCLA alumnus and owner of 2000 B.C. Hemp Product Store, to
a chorus of loud cheers. Proudly displaying his knowledge, Ruben
added, "I’m one of the few people in my family who know how many
grams are in an ounce." A self-proclaimed hemp expert, Ruben tried
to educate the crowd on the many uses of hemp not just as a
recreational drug, but as an alternative to such things as fossil
fuels, fiber, paper and even food. Few students seemed to care -
most were concerned with enjoying themselves. Perfect weather,
abundant pot and an enthusiastic group combined to make the event
one of the more successful rallies of late. "(Hemp Fest) is
probably one of the best activities offered on campus," said Leon
Stanislavsky, a fourth-year physiological science student. Looking
around at the ethnic diversity of the crowd, Stanislavsky noted
that "a lot of different cultures are united over one thing" -
namely, their shared love of marijuana. Jack Herer, a hemp advocate
and author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," touted hemp as "the
plant that can save the planet." Not only is hemp environmentally
beneficial, Ruben said, but it is profitable as well. Despite the
naysayers who told him that having long hair and using drugs would
get him nowhere, Ruben noted that, not only was he a happily
married family man, "I make more money than my friends" who have
"traditional" jobs. Meanwhile, the Bruin Libertarians were not
about to let the profitable aspect of hemp go to waste. To raise
money for their organization’s campaign funds for the upcoming
student government elections, they held a "bong raffle." For a
dollar, students had the chance to win various hemp products from
2000 B.C., such as socks, paper – "Now you can have paper from
marijuana," said Ruben – and hair conditioner, with a $50 bong
offered as the grand prize. Claire Lagao, a third-year psychology
student, carried home the coveted trophy, along with one-eighth of
an ounce of marijuana. Far from being just a 1970s "free love, free
drugs" flashback, however, the Hemp Fest was touted by the Bruin
Libertarians as an opportunity for students to support legalization
of drugs, fight for their civil liberties and exercise free speech.
"No one has a moral claim on your life. You have the right to
abortion, to think your own thoughts and live your own life," said
Justin Sobodash, a third-year political science student and
president of Bruin Libertarians. "The consequences you suffer are
your own." Gregg Tipton, a member of the Bruin Victory Fellowship,
challenged Sobodash on this point. "(Sobodash) said there are no
consequences, (but) there are," said Tipton. "Where do we draw the
line?" After Sobodash dismissed Tipton as "the burn in hell guy,"
seemingly contradicting his own "free speech" philosophy, the crowd
went back to enjoying their afternoon party. While possession of
marijuana is a misdemeanor, and smoking in public is illegal,
campus police were not called to the scene. According to Sgt. Rick
Sanchez of the university police department (UCPD), nobody advised
the police department that people were smoking, and they were given
no indication "that there would be a problem and our presence was
needed." "There are a lot of things on campus we don’t know about,"
he continued, adding that UCPD "had no prior knowledge" of the
event and what would be taking place. So, without fear of
reprimand, pipes were passed and joints were lit as students took
time off from their studies to pursue their chosen pastime. "As
much as I hate to admit it, pot smokers are nicer (people). I have
less problems (with them)," said Jory Chavez, a second-year
political science student. Flying in the face of conventional
anti-drug proponents, speakers at the rally touted the medicinal
and health benefits of smoking marijuana. Students greeted this
news with enthusiasm. "Nobody has ever died from (smoking)
marijuana, no matter how much they took," said Herer. Simon P.
Dunstan, a fourth-year theater student from Australia, thought that
"Southern California needs more hemp." Dunstan added that where he
comes from, drugs have been decriminalized and that the drug issue
is "nowhere near as much of a problem as it is here." Long after
the speakers had left, the crowd continued to linger in Meyerhoff
Park, enjoying the sun, playing frisbee and passing pipes. In his
parting speech, Ruben warned students to "stay away from nasty
drugs, like speed and alcohol. "You wonder why people never have a
crack rally – it’s because marijuana is so useful." AARON TOUT
(Top) Raj Joshi smokes weed at the Hemp Rally sponsored by the
Bruin Liberatarians in Meyerhoff Park Wednesday afternoon. (Above)
Spot, left, (no last name given) and Jeannie Smith survey the Hemp
souvenirs (stuff for sale) at the Hemp Rally Wednesday afternoon in
Meyerhoff Park. HempOrg: The Libertarian Connection Marijuana
Possession Laws

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