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Legalize Marijuana Attorney Explains Why We Should

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Florida -- Keith Stroup entered the room at the Hilton hotel in a suit with a gold marijuana leaf pinned neatly on his chest. He adjusted his green tie and watched as people poured into the room.
The Dogwood Room was filled past its 78-person capacity. People sat on the floor in the back and in the aisles. Many adorned brightly colored orange stickers displaying their own five-pointed leaves.

Stroup is a Washington, D.C., public-interest attorney who founded the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in 1970.

He got his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where he first smoked marijuana as a freshman.

"I'm the world's oldest pot smoker," the 62-year-old said. His light-hearted humor supported his overall argument.

Stroup encouraged students to "come out of the closet" with their marijuana habits in order to change the laws.

"We need to get up, stand up, light up and let America know," Stroup said.

One way he suggested was by asking everyone in the room to refrain from voting for any candidate who "treats them like a criminal" by supporting marijuana prohibition.

Stroup said marijuana is not an immoral habit but rather a recreational activity.

He said Americans should be given the right to buy marijuana from a controlled market and grow it for recreational and industrial purposes.

"Smoking is not immoral," Stroup said. "It makes food taste better, music sound better and sex better," he said. "That's not a bad thing."

Stroup said he believes the negative stereotype given to marijuana smokers is the biggest reason keeping marijuana from becoming legal in the United States. Stroup said people feel like they are alienated.

NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of pot by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

Stroup said more than 26 million Americans smoked last year and of that 16 million are regular smokers, meaning they smoke at least once a month.

"We're just average Americans that happen to smoke marijuana," Stroup said.

The event was sponsored by NORML UF, which claims to have 30 to 40 active members. The group is led by UF junior Jaylen McGrew.

"I saw (the movie) "Grass" at the Reitz Union a few years ago and decided to get involved with NORML," McGrew said.

Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Author: Laura Novetzke, Special To The Sun
Published: September 13, 2006
Copyright: 2006 The Gainesville Sun
 

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