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At high noon last Friday, there was a quiet buzz among students on College Green many of whom resembled hippies from yesteryear. Sporting cut-off ripped jeans, rainbow colored friendship braclets, and tie-dyed shirts, they had gathered to rally behind a cause stirring since the 1960s. They wanted to get high. Legally, that is. And over the next three hours, hundreds of students stopped to listen to impassioned pleas by marijuana activists to legalize the growth and use of the drug. Although the rally initially appeared chaotic, organizers quickly set up booths advocating legalization and banners proclaiming their cause: "Help End Marijuana Prohibition." Friday's rally led by the HEMP organization as part of a nationwide tour began as an open dialogue between HEMP members and students. But having toured for 20 years, members had the experience to quickly rebuke any questions posed by students, leaving vocal opposition absent from the rally. In one of the beginning exchanges, a student asked what HEMP member Shan Clark thought of surgeons and doctors performing their jobs under the influence of pot. Clark became outraged and dismissed the comment as an "insult and irrelevant." The group's message, although it advocated legalization of marijuana, focused primarily on the permission to grow the plant, which speakers said had many enviormental benefits. Clark who spoke for over an hour called marijuana non-toxic, non-carcenigenic, and "the safest theraputic substance known to man." He added that he had interviewed many doctors and researchers at top California institutes on the subject. "It helps nausea, lowers stress and there is no evidence of lung damage," Clark said. "The laws were never based on public health." Clark said that there was an unfounded drug hysteria in the nation and the government was lying to the public about the dangers and benefits of marijuana use. College sophomore Ross Gerber said that students should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to use the drug for recreational purposes. College sophomore Laura Booker, who also helped organize the HEMP group's visit, said she was happy with the student turn out despite attempts to take down posters around campus announcing the rally. Some students attending the rally said afterwards that they agreed with the message of HEMP, adding that the rally would not instigate additional drug abuse on campus.

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