The Need for Weed

It's a unique source of fiber, a natural painkiller, a valuable fuel source. So when Jack Herer talks about legalization, there's a method to his reefer madness.

The campaign ends on Tuesday. Herer and other organizers spend the afternoon at John Coleman's Hemp & Hammocks store in Key Largo, where Herer signs and sells copies of his book. Coleman and Herer are both advocates of wearing hemp clothing and using other hemp products. One local activist along for the ride to Largo has bought a new backpack made completely of hemp. It has a tag noting that the backpack should not be smoked.

There will be no need for that. On this Tuesday night, at a house in Southwest Dade, a couple of dozen people gather for a grand finale. The important work has been done and now it's time to kick back and relax. Plenty of primo buddage. Food and drink. The host, Doc, has cranked up the stereo.

But Herer isn't having it. He uses this opportunity, like all opportunities, to reiterate his message, to urge the mostly young people to pick up the struggle, to join him in the effort to decriminalize hemp. "Marijuana makes you a better driver," he cries, repeating statements he's made over and over in the past few days. "If you miss your exit, you don't get excited about it. If you're drinking or not stoned, you might cut someone off trying to make your exit. If you're stoned, you just go on to the next one, figuring there'll probably be a McDonald's there."

During the debate with the DEA's Wayne Roques, Herer noted that medicinal users wouldn't have to smoke ten to fifteen joints per day if they could get the killer stuff. "If they had the good seedless," he had noted, "they'd only need to smoke three joints a day." His logic may be sound, but the arguments continue, and will continue. At the party one guest, not a member of UM's Hemp Awareness Council or any of the other pro-pot organizations, sips a Budweiser. A loud-mouthed, always-right tough guy, he instigates an argument with glaucoma victim Elvy Musikka. She resolves the discussion by asking, "Can't my bud and your Bud just be friends?" He stares at the woman and remains silent for the next hour, listening and learning. Another potential convert. Jack Herer smiles broadly and passes the joint.

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