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Legalize Mizzou hopes to change both laws and stigmas around drug usage

MU NORML President Aaron Ladd: “It’s unfortunate that they are censoring our message like this because Missouri already has some [cannabidiol] laws, so it’s not an illegal substance.”

Sept. 19, 2016

Corrected 09/21/2016 at 11:25 a.m. A previous version of this article stated that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was representing Legalize Mizzou pro bono. The foundation has no formal relationship with Legalize Mizzou. The Maneater regrets the error.

Legalize Mizzou officers opened their meeting of the year Tuesday by naming their major, favorite ice cream flavor and favorite cannabis strain.

Fliers distributed to advertise the meeting featured a marijuana leaf with a black censorship bar over the middle and teased, “Find out why MU censored us.”

Legalize Mizzou is made up of two separate nationwide organizations, the National Organization for Marijuana Reform Laws and Students for Sensible Drug policy. Although the two work together, NORML focuses on cannabis, and SSDP’s focus is on other Schedule I substances, such as marijuana, MDMA and heroin, as well as alcohol and tobacco.

During the meeting, MU NORML President Aaron Ladd said around a year ago the group received notice from the MU Office of Licensing and Trademarks saying the group could no longer use a marijuana leaf symbol in conjunction with any image in association with MU because it implies the university condones drug use.

A similar case is currently in progress at Iowa State University, and Legalize Mizzou is following the proceedings closely to see if a precedent will be set for their dealings with MU.

Ladd believes MU is infringing on the legal rights of the organization.

“It’s unfortunate that they are censoring our message like this because Missouri already has some [cannabidiol] laws, so it’s not an illegal substance,” Ladd said. “For a school known for its journalism acumen, it’s crazy how they would come back on our First Amendment rights like this.”

Cannabidiol is the component of cannabis that is regarded to have medical use. CBD does not have psychoactive properties and does not interfere with motor skills or thought process.

Legalize Mizzou maintains that they do not condone illegal drug use and that a large focus of the group is maintaining an atmosphere of professionalism.

“The most important thing we stress is that we don’t condone drug use, and we’re not a drug club,” SSDP President Lydia Birt said. “We don’t want people to look at our organizations and think that we just sit around tripping ... We try to have meetings on campus so that people don’t come high or impaired in any way. We ask that officers dress up in business casual just to separate us from general members.”

Together, the two groups lobby in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., and work to provide accurate information about drugs.

“Drugs are a topic that people talk about all the time, and we need to be more open about the education and discussion around all kinds of drugs,” SSDP Vice President Eva Petakovic said.

Last year, Legalize Mizzou circulated petitions to add medical marijuana to November’s ballot. Although some signatures have not been validated, Ladd hopes the problem will get resolved before the election.

“We should know more by the end of the month, but if we were able to pull from this list of signatures that they currently have, that initiative may be back on,” Ladd said. “I’m hopeful for this November.”

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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