I AM WRITING IN REsponse to the comments made by Matt Labash in “Pot Roast” (The District Line, 4/7). This appears to have been simply an opportunity for the author to vent his preconceived notions of the marijuana movement.

Since Labash feels qualified to generalize the entire movement on the basis of one day’s events, mightn’t I also feel qualified to draw certain conclusions about the author on the basis of his article? Judging from his intolerant tone, Labash strikes me as the type of reactionary who lashes out at whoever believes differently than he. Of course, this is simply my first impression. And, as Labash’s assessment of the marijuana movement clearly demonstrates, first impressions can be incorrect.

Both the quest for medicinal marijuana and legal, industrial hemp cultivation are major staples of the marijuana movement. Hemp is one of the Earth’s premier renewable resources and can be manufactured into an estimated 50,000 commercial products. Currently, in parts of Europe where hemp cultivation is legal, the hemp industry is exploding. In fact, at NORML’s most recent regional conference in St. Louis, Mo., the first day’s discussion focused entirely on the hemp plant. And medicinal marijuana has been a priority for both NORML and the cannabis movement since the early ’70s.

Lastly, it is irresponsible to imply that marijuana users have “nothing to fear” from government and law enforcement simply because you witnessed little police intervention in Protest Park. There have been nearly 10 million marijuana arrests since 1965. In 1993 alone, there were 380,690—with more than 81 percent of these being for simple possession and personal consumption. In short, get a clue.

Publications Director, NORML, Downtown