Though my involvement with Columbia University's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is now much reduced due to other obligations, I would like to explain why this group has, for the last couple of years, held the interest of one not usually given to political activism.
I find the principle difficulty in discussing this issue with civility and rationality to be the utter insanity of prohibiting an activity in which almost sixty-eight million Americans have engaged in themselves at least once.
The challenge is akin to that faced by one attempting to explain that two plus two does in fact equal four to someone who refuses to believe the truth of it. The truth is so simply communicated that all one can do is keep showing the doubter two blocks, then adding two more and asking what one is left with.
I hesitate to use the same tired arguments for the very reason that they are tired and played out, but as in the case with the blocks, the same arguments are used repeatedly because they are so clear that only one who refuse to see for the sake of perpetuating their own ignorance will fail to do so.
Unfortunately, this debate is not of the kind that traditionally garners attention at the university level, such as the more interesting questions of whether blocks really exist and if so, what their mathematical properties are. This is an issue of real concern and impact to actual living persons.
Since 1965, over ten million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. Some indefinite beast known as society has swooped down upon a group of people almost equal to the entire poplutation of New York City, and said that they should be placed in little steel boxes apart from their peers because they were in possession of a naturally occurring plant to which corporations had not had the foresight to attach their names and markets, and fiercely defend as in the cases of tobacco and alcohol.
What is one to do in the face of this lunacy? By associating yourself with CU-NORML, you add force to its message and assert your recognition of the legitimacy of its cause. From this association, your contribution toward bringing about a change in marijuana policy can be made in accordance with your level and direction of interest, as well as the time you have to devote to the issue.
CU-NORML accommodates the varieties of interest and concern of its members by making available a number of projects on which to work. Presently, efforts are underway to bring about a reform of current university drug policy as well as that of the housing administration, to sponsor a concert to increase the organization's visibility and get its message out, and to continue the lecture series that has been underway for a number of semesters. Of course, new ideas are always welcome. The most important first step is to attend a meeting and talk to the people heading up these projects. I hope you will give this cause the attention it deserves.
Former President, CU-NORML