[sixties-l] Store is hardly normal for Lodi (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 18:08:55 EST

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    Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 13:14:08 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Store is hardly normal for Lodi

    Store is hardly normal for Lodi


    Small town residents aren't sure what to make of shop that pushes for
    legalizing marijuana

    Published Friday, November 23, 2001, in the Akron Beacon Journal.

    LODI: Stepping through the front door of this tiny storefront on Lodi's town
    square is like being transported back in time more than 30 years.

    The sweet and pungent smell of burning incense, the otherworldly glow of
    black lights, psychedelic posters, lava lamps, tied-dyed shirts and music
    from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead -- a heady combination
    of sensations that call back the 1960s and '70s for visitors to the newly
    opened NORML ``retail boutique and information center.''

    NORML is the name of the store, which the green neon sign in the front
    window proclaims. It is also the name of the nonprofit political action
    group -- the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws -- that
    has been working to decriminalize the use of marijuana since its founding in

    Since its opening in Lodi less than a month ago, the NORML store, which sits
    directly across the street from Village Hall, has been a town curiosity.

    ``A lot of people have been stopping in and walking by to see what we are
    all about,'' said Cher Neufer, who manages the store. She also goes by
    Cheryl, the name she used when she ran unsuccessfully as the Libertarian
    Party candidate for the 22nd District Ohio Senate seat in 2000 and this year
    for Harrisville Township trustee.

    Dressed in a loosely fitting tie-dyed T-shirt that reads ``Legalize
    Freedom,'' the good-natured Neufer, 54, describes herself as one of Medina
    County's original hippies.

    ``Overall, I think we have gotten a good reaction,'' she said. ``People are
    always waving to us through the window, or giving us the thumbs up.''

    ``Us'' refers to Neufer and assistant store manager Alice Higgins.

    ``This is the best thing to happen to Lodi,'' proclaimed Higgins, 41, who
    calls herself a ``rebel and free spirit.''

    Not everyone in Lodi is as sure as Higgins that Haight-Ashbury meets
    Mayberry is the perfect mix.

    ``We have had a few inquiries,'' said Lodi Mayor Tom Longsdorf. ``At this
    point, I don't quite know what may or may not happen.''

    The late '60s ``summer of love'' novelties that the store sells -- clothing,
    backpacks, American flags made from hemp, patches honoring marijuana, love
    beads, black-light posters -- remind one of what was once euphemistically
    called a ``head shop.''

    But there is one big difference.

    ``We don't sell any drug paraphernalia,'' said Neufer, noting the absence of
    pipes, bongs and roach clips on store shelves.

    What Neufer and Higgins push in their little shop of cannabis is a political
    agenda that supports the removal of all penalties for the private possession
    of marijuana by adults, the cultivation for personal use, the casual
    not-for-profit transfer of small amounts and the development of a legally
    controlled market for marijuana.

    One of the main features of the store, in addition to the dozen pamphlets
    dealing with marijuana and marijuana use, are several clipboards stuffed
    with petitions.

    One petition urges Ohio Gov. Bob Taft to support the medical use of

    Another calls for repealing a federal law that strips financial aid from
    students convicted of a drug-related crime.

    ``And this one is for NORML membership,'' said Neufer, holding up a yellow
    legal pad filled with more than two-dozen names.

    Neufer, who is a graduate of the University of Akron, said she never drank
    or smoked cigarettes, but did get into marijuana while in college in the

    ``I smoked pot and I don't see how pot has hurt me,'' said Neufer, who
    refuses to buy into the argument that smoking marijuana leads one to harder

    Higgins, who also works as a bartender, stressed that alcohol consumption
    has caused countless deaths and is much more dangerous than pot smoking.

    ``You don't hear of people getting killed from smoking pot,'' she said.

    The drug debate aside, it seems that most town folk are taking a
    wait-and-see attitude toward the store.

    ``There are a few people who are excited. I think there was an initial shock
    when people heard it was coming, but I don't see that now,'' said Owen
    Yoder, owner of Western Auto, the combination automotive and hardware supply
    store two doors down from NORML.

    Yoder, who has operated his store on the square for 35 years, visited his
    new neighbor recently and indicated that what he saw in the store was

    ``But I don't see how they are going to sell enough to make a go of it,'' he

    Neufer said most of the business people have been supportive, although she
    said that the local newspaper refuses to carry the store's advertisement.

    Still the lack of advertising hasn't seemed to hurt business.

    Deborah Hargrove, 50, was just one of a half-dozen people who came into the
    store during a 20-minute period one recent Friday afternoon.

    ``I just love it. This place is cool,'' Hargrove declared.

    The store is open six days a week. On Monday through Friday, the hours are
    noon to 7 p.m.

    ``On Saturday we are here from 11 to 4:20 (p.m.),'' said a smiling Neufer,
    staying true to her nonconformist nature.
    Carl Chancellor can be reached at 330-996-3725 or

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