A degree from Georgetown Law will teach you many things. Keith Stroup (LAW ’68), chief legal counsel and former executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), learned how to roll a joint and also how to legally defend his right to do so.
Stroup came to campus on Thursday to speak at an event sponsored by the Lecture Fund about NORML’s efforts to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use across the United States. “In those different capacities [as both executive director and legal counsel for NORML], I’ve spoken hundreds of times at universities around the country,” he said.
Speaking on college campuses makes sense for someone advocating for the legalization of marijuana, he said. “If you’re trying to change public policy,” Stroup said, “You have to get out and meet people that share the same views you do. We always poll very strong among people from 18 to 25.”
Not surprisingly, Stroup said that support is likely due to the relatively high incidence of marijuana smoking among college-age men and women. “Marijuana smoking has always been popular among college students,” he said.
Coming back to his alma mater was particularly exciting for Stroup, who said that he enjoys returning to campus when he can. It was particularly appropriate for him to speak on the legalization of marijuana: Not only has he made the cause his life’s work, but it was at Georgetown that he first began using pot. “I first smoked a joint when I was a freshman at Georgetown Law in 1965, and I’ve been a regular smoker ever since,” he said, adding that he still rolls himself a marijuana joint every night when he goes home for the evening, in addition to pouring a glass of wine.
If Stroup has his way, those who share that after-work tradition will be able to do so legally across the country. Though California voters rejected Proposition 19 that would have made that state the first to legalize recreational use of marijuana last November, 15 states and the District of Columbia allow use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Stroup also said, “We now have a total of thirteen states where they no longer arrest … for marijuana.”
Stroup’s goals may still just be a pipe dream: The federal Controlled Substances Act still makes the use of marijuana a federal crime. Consequently, NORML promotes the full legalization of marijuana and the abolition of any penalty at both the federal and state level.
Keith Stroup believes that full legalization is on the horizon. “We’re very near the tipping point, and it’s time that anyone who smokes, or simply supports the right of others to smoke, step forward,” he said.