The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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University Libertarians, NORML, hold first event to discuss legalization of medicinal marijuana

University+Libertarians%2C+NORML%2C+hold+first+event+to+discuss+legalization+of+medicinal+marijuana

Standing in front of nearly 50 students in Hughes-Trigg Forum, Clifford Deuvall told the audience his slogan.

“Can you smell the freedom?” he said, sporting a gold marijuana leaf on the lapel of his oversized grey suit. “If you can’t, you’re not working hard enough.”

Deuvall, who lost his right eye and the feeling in most of the right side of his body during an explosion in Vietnam in 1975, has been working to change laws in Texas ever since his doctor suggested he leave Texas and go to a state that does allow medicinal marijuana.

Deuvall represented the Waco office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at the forum “Legalize It,” held by SMU’s University Libertarians Monday night.

University Libertarians is a student group that started at SMU this semester, and this was its first major event on campus. According to vice president and senior Brett Miller, University Libertarians’ main ideal is freedom, and this was a good way to get its agenda across.

“We are fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” freshman Scott Logan said, co-president of the organization. “A lot of people don’t realize that’s an option.”

Members of NORML, a lawyer and a statistician sat in front of the crowd for more than two hours, taking turns giving their opinions on the marijuana issue.

Freshman Taylor Greenleaf came to the forum because he was interested in marijuana’s medicinal purposes and, being from California, he said he knows the stereotypes attached to the drug and feels it could be used in beneficial ways.

Deuvall said that many of the reasons marijuana is illegal today is because of the stigma that if someone smokes pot, they’re considered a “stoner.” Deuvall and NORML believe that current laws should be repealed for reasons of “public safety, public health, economics and justice,” and he compared marijuana to any other drug, saying all drugs, and even alcohol, can be abused.

“At NORML we try to teach a little responsibility,” Deuvall said.

Members of the panel said that with discussions like the one on Monday night, people can start to speak out and change the laws.

“It’s the grassroots level that gets people sitting in the audience to move forward and become activists,” Larry Talley, CFO of NORML DFW said.

But for the other president of the organization, senior Spencer Matthews, putting his name and University Libertarians’ name on the “Legalize It” event was a hard decision, but they wanted to make a statement.

“We wanted to show the campus that we weren’t going to be that group that just sat there,” Matthews said.

Politicians have the same hesitations that Matthews had about supporting marijuana reform, lawyer Joe Sutton said.

Sutton has been working on writing a law that would allow responsible medicinal marijuana and hopes he can persuade legislators with his clean-cut look. Sutton said he doesn’t smoke marijuana, but his passion for passing a law comes from his wife, who suffers from chronic pain.

“Hopefully I can become a stigma breaker,” Sutton said.

The “Legalize It” forum was a preview for the University Libertarians’ main event, the SMU Liberty Conference on Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Forum. According to Matthews, the group plans to tackle other issues like heath care and LGBT rights.

“It doesn’t even have to be about marijuana, what ever your issue is, do something about it,” Matthews said.

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