MU NORML fights for student votes on legalization of marijuana

MU NORML advocates for student involvement in legalizing marijuana on the Nov. 6 ballot.


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On Nov. 6, three different propositions regarding the legalization of medical marijuana will appear on the Missouri ballot. On MU’s campus, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is advocating for students to vote “yes” on these issues, which would make Missouri the 31st state to legalize marijuana.

President of MU’s NORML chapter, Aspen Sennewald, has been involved with the club for two years, having discovered it on OrgSync by chance and running for president her first month with the club. Now, she is attempting to get students active in advocacy through various events and volunteer opportunities.

“Our goal this semester is recruiting students on campus to get involved in legalization,” Sennewald said. “We want to do volunteer opportunities. We’re doing a highway cleanup in September and we’re hosting a state cannabis conference on Sept. 10....We just want to be active as opposed to being there but not getting people involved.”

A health and wellness major, Sennewald’s interest in medical marijuana sprang from her search for a nontraditional medicine suited for her. After investigating chiropracty and dietetics to no avail, her mom suggested marijuana. Though marijuana is a controversial topic, Sennewald encourages students on campus to keep a similarly open mind when looking at MU NORML.

“When people saw me at the Get Involved Fair last year, they kind of gave the table an eye and kept walking, but you just have to remember it’s a modern thing happening,” Sennewald said. “It was a taboo subject. People still think it’s a federal one drug. It’s not; it’s medicine for a lot of people, and I think as soon as [students] realize that, they’ll realize that our impact on campus will be just as positive as medical marijuana will be in Missouri one day.”

Vice President Charlie Tyson has been a member of the group since his freshman year, drawn to its message by his belief in both the healing properties of medical marijuana and disagreement with current marijuana laws. Spurred by these beliefs, Tyson wants MU NORML to be a way to get students involved in politics.

“MU NORML aims to engage students in the political process and get as many people as possible working towards policy change surrounding cannabis in Missouri,” Tyson said. “Mizzou has students from all over the state, country and globe, so we have a chance to involve and inform a wide variety of people with the hope that when they go back home, they'll spread what they've learned and try to invoke change in their communities. “

For both Sennewald and Tyson, MU NORML is about more than just marijuana; it’s about fighting for issues they are passionate about and giving back to the community in any way possible.

“MU NORML is far more than just a group hoping to legalize marijuana,” Tyson said. “We hope that our advocacy can help lead to accessible health care alternatives and end the practice of incarcerating people for simple marijuana charges. We're important because many young adults are just getting involved and interested in politics for the first time in their lives and it's a necessity for groups like MU NORML to encourage that desire for involvement. When more citizens decide to be involved in these processes, our country is only stronger because of it.”

According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, the Nov. 6 ballot’s three marijuana propositions will, if passed, amend the Missouri Constitution to allow for medicinal marijuana. Each amendment, however, proposes different taxation on marijuana sales. Amendment 2 will impose a 4 percent tax for military veteran health and care. Amendment 3 will impose a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales and on flowers and dry leaves. Proposition C will tax 2 percent to fund veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety in cities.

Students can follow MU NORML on OrgSync for updates on meetings.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp |

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