Iowa State’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is quickly becoming one of the largest student organizations at Iowa State.
“It demonstrates the caliber of students we have here at the University and that we are willing to effect change,” said Jon Ellis, freshman in chemical engineering.
Iowa State's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is a nonprofit political activist student organization that advocates for the reform of the marijuana laws while also providing a voice for the people about marijuana.
Since it became a registered student organization last year, it has made its presence felt here at Iowa State.
“We really are a guiding light and are students who voice their activism on this campus and then stand up and produce quality work in academics, extracurricular activities and quality of living," said Josh Montgomery, Iowa State's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws co-founder and sophomore in industrial engineering.
Currently, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is one of the top five largest student organizations on campus with 235 current members. At clubfest Jan. 23, they gathered 379 signatures of interested students.
If less than half of those signatures become official members, the club will become the largest student organization on campus.
"We really can show this state and disprove the misconceptions about somebody who supports this cause,” Montgomery said.
In November 2012, the organization first garnered attention with their organization T-shirts when the Des Moines Register ran an article about the organization. A letter was then written to the editor about the t-shirts, sparking controversy.
The design incorporated Cy with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws logo. Iowa State ruled that the organization needed to come up with a new design because as an organization, they are not allowed to speak for the university.
Since then, members from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have been featured and interviewed on four different radio programs, including Iowa Public Radio.
“Thinking back to then, I never would have imagined a year later having all of this media attention and the growth that we've had,” said Erin Furleigh, freshman in genetics and co-founder of the organization.
Iowa State's chapter collaborates with National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws organizations from seven different colleges. As a result of their media blitz, the ISU chapter inspired three other National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws organizations to be formed across the state at Luther College, Grinnell College and the University of Iowa, which is in the process of becoming registered.
One hurdle the club constantly faces is the stigma of being “the weed club.”
“I have friends where I’ll try and show them a flyer, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not interested in your weed club.’ And, that’s really important to us that we’re not coming across as the weed club," Furleigh said. "We are a political activist organization when comes down to it at the end of the day, not the weed club.”
The ISU National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will have its first meeting Wed., Jan. 30, at Carver Hall. All current members and prospective members are welcome to attend.
The current agenda will include petition distribution, guest speaker Distinguished Professor of Psychology Gary Wells, and discussion of officer positions and member involvement.
“This first meeting, we want to come out strong. We want to be known as an organization that has to be taken seriously and to be a major driving force on this campus,” Wells said.