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Be kind to cannabis says activist

By Hempology | September 28, 2007

The Appalachian, NC Edu
27 Sep 2007
Allison Casey


According to the Appalachian State University annual crime report, there were 42 on-campus arrests and 144 judicial referrals for drug violations in 2006.

Josh C.  Kleinstreuer, a senior electronic media broadcasting major, is working to change marijuana policies.

It is estimated that in the United States, one person is arrested every 72 seconds for marijuana violations, said Kleinstreuer, president of the Help End Marijuana Prohibition ( HEMP ) club.

“I don’t think people know what a waste of taxpayer dollars it is,” he said.  “$8 billion were spent on drug arrests.” 

He also founded the Boone chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( NORML ) and is responsible for the merging of HEMP and NORML.

The November issue of “High Times” magazine features Kleinstreuer as the “Freedom Fighter” of the month.

“It felt unbelievable to be recognized for something I’ve been working with for four years,” he said.  “I’ve had random people come up to me and be like, ‘Oh, you’re that guy that was in ‘High Times!’”

At age 16, a friend of Kleinstreuer’s family was going through chemotherapy and used marijuana medicinally.

He could not understand why so many people were denied access to medicinal marijuana.

After his arrest at age 18, Kleinstreuer became an activist for marijuana reform.

“It’s like any issue,” he said.  “It’s all about thinking for yourself and being open-minded.” Kleinstreuer said marijuana is often categorized with more harmful drugs like crack and heroine.

“It shouldn’t be considered dangerous when used responsibly,” he said.  “You’ re not hurting yourself or others.”

Thirteen states have adopted laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, Kleinstreuer said.

Studies conducted in other countries prove marijuana’s as medically useful, but the Food and Drug Administration does not see them as valid and will not perform their own studies, he said.

“A lot of people consider it a gateway drug,” he said.  “It’s not.  I can guarantee you everyone who has tried [marijuana] tried alcohol first.  So if you’re going to slap the label of gateway drug on anything, slap it on alcohol.”

HEMP is frequently misunderstood and seen as a group of people who just want to get high together, he said.

“CSIL gets a lot of calls about us,” he said.  “We’re not trying to advocate illegal drug use.  We’re just trying to clear up the misunderstandings.”

This year, the club plans to have informational contact tables as well as a movie screening of the 1936 Louis J.  Gasnier propaganda film, “Reefer Madness.”

HEMP meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:45 p.m.  in MacCrae Peak of Plemmons Student Union.

Kleinstreur told “High Times” the most important part of being an activist is being open-minded.

“Do you teach people or do you learn from them?” he said in the magazine.  “Because a truly proficient activist does both.”

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