Public Hemp Display Under Attack From Local Residents

A month long hemp display arranged by the University of Oklahoma NORML chapter is under fire from parents and local officials.

The three case exhibit, currently on display at The Norman Public Library, advocates the legalization of the hemp plant for industrial and agricultural purposes. On display are various products made from hemp such as hats, shoes, and backpacks as well as a caption next to a picture of former President George Washington encouraging farmers to: “Grow hemp.”

School patron Robert Coffman, who said he was representing other parents, recently criticized the display at a City Council meeting and argued that such an exhibit was inappropriate for children. In addition, Mayor Bill Nations reports that he has had at least a dozen calls from people opposed to the exhibit. Nations admits that both city and library officials had tried to prevent UO NORML from running the exhibit.

Tony Smith, a member of UO NORML, states that the library has received an equal number of compliments as well as complaints from patrons regarding the controversial exhibit. He further argues that children should be allowed to view the exhibit so they can learn about the historical and industrial uses of the hemp plant.

“We teach our children that we have a free country where dissenting opinions can be expressed,” Smith says. “Our children are well-informed about the government’s position on marijuana. Our exhibit in a public forum demonstrates that we … live in a country where freedom of expression exists.”

For more information, please contact Eric Copenhaver of University of Oklahoma NORML at (405)321-1670.