JUDGE ORDERS OHIO STATE U. TO LET MARIJUANA FESTIVAL PROCEED
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Ohio State University must allow
a pro-marijuana festival to be held on the campus, in Columbus. The
university administration had canceled the ninth annual Hempfest on
"We are disappointed in the ruling," William Hall, vice president for
student affairs, said Friday in a written statement. "But we respect
the court's decision and will comply with the ruling."
This year's Hempfest was held as scheduled on Saturday.
The chief organizers of the event, Sean Luse and Mark Verhoff, said
they received an e-mail message on Tuesday afternoon from Pat Hall,
director of student judicial affairs, telling them that the festival
had to be canceled. The festival's sponsoring organization, Students
for Sensible Drug Policy, then asked Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the
U.S. District Court in Columbus to bar the university from canceling
Mr. Luse said the reason given for the cancellation was that the
student organization had not notified the campus police 10 business
days before the event, as required. Mr. Luse said the group had put in
its notification 10 days before the event, but not 10 weekdays.
Rich Hollingsworth, associate vice president of student affairs, told
the Associated Press that the cancellation had nothing to do with the
In his ruling, Judge Marbley said that "not allowing Hempfest to occur
would deprive [the student group] and the Hempfest speakers and
attendees their freedoms of speech and assembly."
Mr. Luse said his group's lawyer had argued that the 10-day
requirement was unnecessary because the campus police department works
seven days a week. The 10-day rule was instituted by university
officials when campus police officers found members of the group
smoking marijuana at a campus function in November.
The students are also seeking compensation for financial and economic
damages, Mr. Luse said. Arguments on that issue will be heard at a
"We were very surprised, but we knew we had a strong case," he said of
the ruling. "I think this is inspiring to student groups across the
country. Students need to know that when someone plays around with
your constitutional rights, you can win."