July 2, 2010

Honk for Hemp – Lawrence, KS

Since moving to Lawrence, I have become familiar with many of its quirks. Lawrence is not your typical Kansas town. While Kansas is predominately a very Republican and very Christian state, Lawrence is town known for being liberal, idealistic and open-minded. I can honestly say the people I have met in Lawrence seem to be some of the most up-beat and optimistic people I have ever encountered. It is definitely a change from the caustic cynicism of Chicago.

No one symbolizes the heart-felt idealism of Lawrence more than Honk for Hemp, a self-described futile but symbolic gesture that occurs twice a week on Saturday from 9:00 to 10:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 to 1:00 pm on Massachusetts Street. One Sunday after I had just moved to Lawrence, I was headed down Massachusetts Street when I saw a man on a street corner holding a large sign that said “Honk for Hemp.” I laughed and thought about how typical it was for this hippie town.

But imagine my surprise when he was there again next weekend, and the next weekend and the weekend after that. I realized that the man holding the “Honk for Hemp” sign was not just a man but a Lawrence landmark. After asking around, I learned that he has been holding that sign for over ten years and even has his own website to support his cause.

According to the Honk for Hemp website: “Honk for Hemp sees three main issues: industrial hemp (seed and fiber), medical hemp (marijuana), and recreational hemp (marijuana). All three are illegal. We believe all three should be legal (with some restrictions), but we encourage others to support us at whatever level they are comfortable with.”

Honk for Hemp is hardly the only Lawrence-based movement for the legalization of hemp and marijuana. There are numerous activists and organizations throughout the city. In fact, a significant part of the recent K2 controversy occurred across the street from Honk for Hemp’s stand-ins. Kansas and Missouri lawmakers have been on a crusade over the last year to outlaw K2, a fake marijuana product that supposedly simulates the high of THC. Part of that crusade were two raids by federal agents on Sacred Journey, a store located at 11th and Massachusetts across the street from where Honk for Hemp can be seen every Sunday.

As I’ve always said, this is not a political blog so I am certainly not about to launch into my personal opinions on marijuana or K2. My fascination with Honk for Hemp is less about the actual issue and more about the dedication to the issue. To spend years of your life holding a sign on a street corner to voice your opinion must take enormous faith and optimism. I find that inspiring. I also find it very fitting that Honk for Hemp would choose my new home, Lawrence, as the place to stand and believe it will make a difference this weekend and every weekend after.

Travel Time: 12 minutes
Travel Distance: 4.4 miles
Soundtrack: “Boys from Oklahoma” Cross Canadian Ragweed


1 comment:

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