News Release

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January 27, 2000

Hemp Industry Questioned In Government Report
USDA States U.S. Can Grow Entire Supply On 2,000 Acres

        Washington, DC:  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) last Friday released a study downplaying the utility of industrial hemp and the amount needed to be grown to satisfy current demand.
        The study, entitled Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential, concluded there would be only a "small thin market" for hemp products and that only 2,000 acres of farmland would be needed to fulfill the current supply that is imported into the U.S.
        "Those estimates are a gross misrepresentation of the facts," said Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director.  "The report only takes into consideration the textile segment of the market.  That segment only makes up about 5 percent of the total industry in Canada, and there are many more uses that will develop as technology advances.  Why doesn't the government allow the free market to demonstrate that fact?  Why does the government spend millions of dollars to prevent an industry from developing if it believes that its size would be insignificant at best?"
        The current federal laws have made it nearly impossible for farmers or researchers to grow industrial hemp.  Three states have recently approved industrial hemp measures, but Hawaii is the only state that has planted a test crop.
        For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director or Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-8751.  The report can be found at

Federal Court Strikes Down Trespassing Law As Unconstitutional For Citizens Arrested On Drug Charges

        Cincinnati, OH:  A U.S. district court judge last Thursday struck down a city law banning individuals arrested on drug charges from traveling through public streets in an exclusive neighborhood near downtown Cincinnati.
        The banishment period of 90 days following an arrest, and a full year for a conviction, became law in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in 1996.  If an individual arrested or convicted of a drug offense was found in the area, they were subject to immediate arrest for criminal trespass, an offense that carries a maximum fine of $250 and 90 days in jail.
        U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott struck down the law, declaring it unconstitutional on freedom of association, double jeopardy and freedom of movement grounds.  Judge Dlott said the ordinance violates the right to travel and "classifies conduct that clearly ought to be legal, as criminal trespass."
        In June of 1998, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio Foundation filed a lawsuit to have the ordinance declared unconstitutional after Patricia Johnson had been arrested for marijuana trafficking, but never indicted.  She was charged with criminal trespass, a charge that was later dropped, after being found in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood a few weeks after her marijuana arrest.
        "This decision by Judge Dlott has the effect of telling cities that courts will not tolerate the sweeping of 'undesirable' citizens from public areas," said Scott Greenwood, Esq., ACLU of Ohio General Counsel.  "Too many times, cities pass such laws that unnecessarily infringe upon the rights of others and offend the Bill of Rights.  This law was a perfect example of a knee-jerk solution to a much larger problem."
        For more information, please contact Scott Greenwood, Esq., ACLU of Ohio General Counsel at (513) 943-4200 or Gino Scarselli, Esq., ACLU of Ohio Associate Legal Director at (216) 781-8479.

Medical Marijuana Bill To Be Introduced In Maryland Assembly This Week

        Annapolis, MD:  A medical marijuana bill prohibiting state and local law enforcement from arresting seriously ill patients who possess marijuana if they have a doctor's recommendation, will be introduced in the Maryland State Assembly by week's end.
        The bill, which will be introduced by Del. Donald Murphy a conservative Republican from Baltimore and Howard Counties has eight other cosponsors.  The bill will allow for the use of marijuana for cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, chronic or debilitating disease or medical conditions, wasting syndromes, severe pain, nausea, seizures and persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis).  Other medical conditions may be covered by the law if they are approved by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
        Since 1996, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Maine, have approved voter initiatives to legalize medical marijuana.  Colorado and Nevada citizens will vote on similar medical use initiatives in November.
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500 or Del. Donald Murphy at (410) 841-3378 or (410) 788-8590.

Two-Thirds Of Jamaica's Population Support Marijuana Decriminalization

        Kingston, Jamaica:  A recent poll conducted for The Jamaican Daily Gleaner by an independent market research service showed that 64 of Jamaicans believe that marijuana smokers should not be arrested.
        Nearly two-thirds believe those who cultivate marijuana for personal use should not be jailed while 53 percent agreed that an individual who cultivates marijuana for export should be incarcerated.
        This latest poll follows the Jamaican Senate's October 1999 unanimous approval of legislation establishing a commission to review and recommend changes to the country's marijuana laws.
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.

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