Cannabis, hemp, grass, weed and Mary Jane lovers unite this week in celebration of Cannabis Awareness Week.
Several events this week sponsored by the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML) will offer cannabis education. Key events for the week include various speakers who will talk about the possible uses of cannabis in medical, industrial and private capacities, musical performances and movie screenings.
Dr. David Bearman, a local medical practitioner and medical marijuana activist, will speak about medicinal marijuana in Storke Plaza at 11 a.m. and will be followed by musical performances and a hemp fashion show.
A free screening of two documentaries, “Grass” and “Busted: Know Your Rights,” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. in Isla Vista Theater on Thursday. Friday’s events include bands and a speech by Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, who is running for the U.S. Senate on an anti-Drug War platform, starting at 11 a.m. in Storke Plaza.
NORML started at UCSB in the early 90s but has only recently become active again, said Eric Davila, a geography graduate student and member of NORML. The aim of this “grassroots” organization has been to increase knowledge about the uses of marijuana and hemp and to try and fight the old myths about the dangers of it, he said.
“Marijuana, as far as its health effects, is relatively benign,” Davila said.
Several students said they agreed with the NORML’s position.
Brian Clearwater, a second-year religious studies graduate student and NORML member, agreed, saying that marijuana should be legalized.
“No single reason why it should be illegal,” Clearwater said.
Other students checking out the NORML display in the Arbor also voiced their support for the movement. Katie Joaquin, a third-year global studies major, said marijuana should be legalized so prices and quality could be monitored.
“I personally agree with the legalization of marijuana,” Joaquin said.
Sachman Bhatti, the co-chair of NORML on campus and a senior film studies major, said NORML does not promote recreational use of marijuana but firmly believes that smoking or not smoking should be a civil right not to be tampered with by the federal government.
Bhatti also said hemp has the potential to positively impact the environment by creating alternative fuel, cheaper and more environmental friendly paper, textile materials and an oil substitute.
“Hemp can be used as a biomass fuel and has been used before,” Bhatti said. “The original Model T [designed by Henry Ford] used hemp in the construction of the body as well as the fuel.”
Bhatti also said hempstock could be used instead of wood in the construction of houses. Other civilizations have used it as a building material before, he said.
Sam Ying, a sixth-year microbiology and geography major who visited NORML’s table in the Arbor, said she stopped because she was concerned about the environment.
“I like hemp products a lot,” Ying said. “It’s a good way to replace paper.”
Bhatti said the goal of NORML is to educate people about the usefulness of cannabis and to ultimately bring about the legalization of marijuana with some government regulation.