If you’re tired of marijuana being illegal, join the club.
No, really. Purdue’s student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was revived this semester by Chris Thompson, and he has big changes in mind.
Purdue’s NORML club isn’t new in the fact that it was founded in the 1970s before losing support and disbanding almost 20 years ago.
Thompson, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, brought the club back to Purdue because he wanted to see change in Indiana legislation toward decriminalizing marijuana. The club, despite being only a few weeks old, already drew a crowd of 75 to its callout. Club members plan to incorporate biweekly meetings, guest speakers and open discussions to better educate the public about the facts of marijuana.
“The goal of the club is to give members the weapons they’ll need to argue for (legalization),” Thompson said. “I believe change comes from persuading the people. Once the general populace realizes it’s not wrong, the change will go upward.”
Marijuana reform has seen recent success in its legalization in Washington and Colorado, but still has much to overcome to become nationally recognized. Thompson said he is continually asked why he wants to do this in Indiana.
“People ask me why I started this in such a conservative state, and I say ‘that’s exactly why,’” Thompson said. “In California, there’d be no reason to have a legalization club. A change needs to be made and that’s the reason the club’s here.”
Thompson is personally invested in legalization because he wants to use his entrepreneurial and engineering skills to start a marijuana company as soon as he graduates.
“I just see the opportunity,” Thompson said. “We’re going to be the next generation of people with the engineering and management skills to make this happen. I want to be the Coca-Cola of marijuana.”
He believes the public has been fed falsified evidence against marijuana for years and wants to inform the student body about the realities of marijuana.
One of the largest obstacles Thompson faced when starting the club was finding a faculty adviser who would support the group. He reached out to Susie Swithers, a professor of behavioral neuroscience, and after initially saying no, she decided the group was something she wanted to get behind.
“I’m hopeful that students will take the time to get involved with the club to learn for themselves what science is telling us about the potential benefits of marijuana, and to make up their own minds about how to balance these benefits with its risks,” Swithers said.
Students interested in joining or learning more can contact Thompson at PurdueNORMLclub@gmail.com.