His wife was injured in an accident with a truck and he had just completed a 1,500-mile bicycle ride, but Woody Harrelson appeared in fine form last night, speaking to a packed Campbell Hall about his vision of environmentalism and community action.
Dressed in purple hemp clothing and socks, Harrelson appeared before a standing ovation to speak on hemp awareness. UCSB was the final destination of the five-week long “Simply Organic Living” tour, sponsored by the Spitfire Foundation. The actor and his friends rode bikes from Seattle to Santa Barbara, accompanied by “The Mothership,” a Greyhound bus fueled by bio-diesel vegetable oil.
An active supporter of hemp and marijuana, Harrelson was arrested for possession of marijuana after planting four hemp seeds to test Kentucky law. The case went to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which ruled that there is no difference between hemp and marijuana. Last August, the jury nullified the case at trial, finding Harrelson not guilty.
“The war on drugs is bullshit. Let’s face it, it’s against noncorporate drugs. You want to make a room full of drug addicts violent, cut off the Starbucks,” Harrelson said. “If you’re going to do a drug, don’t do pharmaceutical bullshit, smoke pot. I’m not encouraging anyone to do any drug, ever. But if you really have to, do an anti-authoritarian drug like this.”
Harrelson is known for the roles he played in the sitcom “Cheers” and in the movies “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Natural Born Killers” and is also the founder of www.voiceyourself.com. The organization focuses on solidarity among activists and works through boycotts and civil disobedience to create change.
“A lot of people feel totally helpless against the system,” Harrelson said. “You as an individual, as a model to your friends and the people around you, are the most important thing to help change. I think personal transformation equals planetary transformation.”
Harrelson said advocating and consuming organic food is as important to the planet as using more hemp products.
“What’s the most significant thing to do for the health of the planet? To look at our own diet, to buy organic,” he said. “Conventional produce could be irradiated or genetically modified, with tons of pesticide, but no stickers on it, just ‘conventional.’ But you take a bite out of an organic apple and you get a mouthful of stickers.
“On top of diet, we have to look at all the things in our lives that have the ‘mark of the beast,’ ” he said. “I like to party as much as the next guy, but sometimes you’ve got to put your foot down.”
“I thought it was really interesting and they gave lots of information I wasn’t completely aware of,” junior sociology major Sally Freedenberg said. “It was good for this community.”
“I think the points he raised are the most crucial educational points for the whole country to understand,” senior sociology major Daniel Badorine said. “This education is a catalyst for our evolution towards sustainability. I’m already pretty active, but his work has inspired me because he’s so outspoken and strong.”