October 5, 2013
The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic around the United States for years, and now a national group is bringing the discussion to Charlottesville.
NORML, also known as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, held a day-long conference at City Space on the Downtown Mall to get people talking.
“Legalizing marijuana would raise tax revenue for schools. It would allow us to prevent children from accessing it as easily as they do today, and it would eliminate to arrest, prosecute thousands of people across Virginia,” says Ed McCann, executive director of Virginia NORML.
Various speakers from professors to law enforcement, to Libertarian candidate for governor Robert Sarvis expressed their knowledge of the current laws and how they believe there should be a change.
“Not only is it a freedom issue, it's also a good government, where the government is trying to criminalize something that isn't particularly harmful when compared to things like alcohol,” says Sarvis.
More than 70 people came out to the NORML conference with various reasons for wanting to legalize marijuana. Some were political, some were medical, and others were personal.
Paola Klockner was charged with possession back when she was in college after being caught with .5 grams of marijuana. Years later, she was still feeling the consequences.
“I went to visit my mom in Chile and when I came back the Department of Homeland Security detained me because they said I had a marijuana charge,” says Klockner
She spent 36 days in jail after trying to come back to the U.S., only to find out that her record was erased.
“I didn't think something like that could happen to me,” says Klockner. “They treated me like a criminal.”
From that day on, she became an activist for NORML, doing everything she can to make sure current marijuana laws are changed.
NORML has been around for more than 40 years and continues to advocate the legalization of marijuana for medical, personal and industrial use.