Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

June 3, 2013

Hemp expo brings debate to Ottumwa

OTTUMWA – Brian Littlejohn didn't set out to become part of the debate over hemp. Really.

It's a charged issue, with people thinking of different things depending on the words used. Marijuana, to most, means drug. Cannabis has a similar reaction, though the word is perhaps a bit less loaded. Say hemp, and people generally think clothing, rope or other textiles. But it's the same plant all three times.

Public views are shifting, with medical use of marijuana now established in some states. A small group even voted to legalize marijuana last November.

Littlejohn wasn't paying much attention when those votes were held. He was introduced to the questions surrounding the plant when he saw an interview with Logan Edwards of Legalize Iowa. Edwards' story caught his attention, and he started doing some research of his own.

“It just fascinated me,” said Littlejohn.

The fascination led to Saturday's Southeast Iowa Hemp Education Expo at Ottumwa Park, which put both Littlejohn and Edwards into the spotlight.

Activists often break down into two basic camps. There are those who favor marijuana explicitly for the use of the drug, whether medical or recreational. Then there are those who focus on the industrial use of hemp, which used to be widely grown in the United States. Littlejohn finds himself more on the industrial side of the split.

Edwards supports use of marijuana, a position he came to gradually. He served in the Marine Corps in Iraq and developed post-traumatic stress disorder after returning. He tried self-medicating first.

“I used to drink a lot to cope with that. I got in a lot of trouble with drinking and driving,” he explained.

Edwards turned to the Veterans Administration for help, even going so far as to spend three months in an inpatient program. It didn't succeed.

Marijuana did, though. It helped control the anxiety, the fear that had marked Edwards' life.

“My life has just completely turned around.”

Edwards is frustrated with Iowa's pace on the issue. In 2010 the Iowa Board of Pharmacy formally stated marijuana has medicinal uses, but left it to the legislature to take action on how it could be used by patients. The legislature has not done so.

“They don't even want to hear the arguments,” Edwards said.

Littlejohn created Saturday's event in part to give Edwards a stage in southeast Iowa. The idea was to provide an opportunity for education without the stereotypes that can surround the issue. Social media spread the word, with people clearly warned this was to be an expo without any of the actual subject matter present. “Bring your buddies. Leave your bud at home,” was one slogan.

It didn't draw as many people as Littlejohn had hoped. The expo's Facebook page showed over 400 people saying they would attend. But Saturday afternoon there were maybe 50 in attendance. And that was if you counted the band that had just arrived to play.

Both Littlejohn and Edwards believe there is considerable support for some sort of reform to the current laws under the surface. But people don't feel safe advocating for it because of the reactions of others. There can be social repercussions, but also potential fallout at the workplace.

“There's a lot of people who support it but most have to stay in the closet,” Littlejohn said.

So the goal for now remains exposure. Supporters believe the facts are on their side, if they can just get them to people. That leads to events like the one on Saturday.

It's an uphill fight, organizers admit. And there's no guarantee of success.

1
Text Only
CNHI/Southeast Iowa
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fundraiser for soldiers' families approaching

    CENTERVILLE — Justin Zaputil remembers when Master Sgt. Travis Riddick died. The common reactions didn’t feel right. Mourning and then moving on left something undone. It didn’t seem to accomplish what Zaputil and a handful of others wanted. It didn’

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • Blue Zones photo Blue Zones hold cooking demonstration at farmers' market

    OSKALOOSA — Two local chefs gave a cooking demonstration at the Oskaloosa Farmers’ Market Tuesday afternoon to show just what you can do with produce you buy there. Renee Edgar and Michael Glesener set up a portable kitchen on the east side of the cit

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about the 2014 Appanoose County Fair. It starts Monday and wraps up on Saturday with a demolition derby at 8 p.m. So, the question of the week is, "How many days do you plan to go to the Appanoose County Fair?

A. I plan to attend all six days.
B. I plan to attend five days.
C. I plan to attend four days.
D. I plan to attend three days.
E. I plan to attend two days.
F. I plan to attend one day.
G. I do not plan to go to the fair this year.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook