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Woman Told To Change Pot Shirt At Willie Nelson Concert


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska ~ (Lincoln Journal Star) ~ Willie Nelson finished his set list with "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die" but police and staff at the Nebraska State Fair left one cannabis activist smoldering.

40-year-old Sally Stricker is quite unhappy with state fair organizers. On September 4th, about an hour before Willie Nelson was to play, state troopers cornered Stricker by the insult clown's dunking booth and told her she would have to go to her vehicle and change out of her pro-pot t-shirt. The shirt was black and featured a picture of a cannabis bud with the words, "Don't Panic It's Organic" framing the flower. "They told me it was state Fair policy I could not wear something of that nature," said Stricker, "I didn't enjoy the show because I was so upset. I'm still upset about it."

Stricker, from Lincoln, is a member of the Cannabis Coalition Network, which is trying to put a measure on the November 2012 ballot that could legalize marijuana. According to organizer Len Schropfer, the coalition needs around 112,000 signatures to get its plan on the ballot, and were looking to find like-minded fair-goers attending Nelson's performance. However, fair managers told the group they couldn't collect signatures on fairgrounds without a booth, and that all booth spaces were booked. So the coalition members stood outside the gates. Stricker wasn't collecting signatures that day, and was there to attend the concert; she had already bought tickets and paid to get through the gate. Suddenly, Stricker said, she was surrounded by two or three state troopers and told to go to her car and chage her shirt. She initially objected, saying her car was parked far away in a cornfield. She was then told she could turn her shirt inside out, as long as the cannabis bud didn't show through. She instead changed into a Nebraska state lottery t-shirt that she had won.

After the concert, Schropfer complained to State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott on Stricker's behalf. She wants an apology, as well as a look at the fair's policy. Neither is likely, as the fair doesn't have a specific policy governing t-shirts, but it doesn't allow anything illegal on fairgrounds. McDermott said, "it's a longstanding practice that at the Nebraska State Fair, which is obviously a family event, we don't permit the promotion of illegal activity." The fair supports the troopers' decision to ask Stricker to change her shirt, and McDermott added, "in this particular instance, the Nebraska State Patrol asking the wearer of the marijuana t-shirt to turn it inside out is in keeping with our ideals." But Stricker wanted to point out hypocrisy, because the fair booked a performer famous for his marijuana use and activism, and was also arrested for marijuana possession just last year. She also pointed out that a vendor, at the concert, was selling t-shirts with pot leaves printed on them. McDermott said he hadn't heard about hte pot leaf shirts for sale, and also that he wasn't familiar with Nelson's pro-pot platform, adding, "I'm not much of a Willie Nelson fan."

Photo credit: Robert Becker/ Lincoln Journal Star

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