News Release

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February 24, 2000

Marijuana Legalization Initiative To Appear On Alaska Ballot

        An initiative, sponsored by Al Anders of the 99 Hemp Committee, which would legalize marijuana and industrial hemp in Alaska will appear on the November 2000 ballot.
        The all encompassing law would make it illegal for Alaska law enforcement officers and prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws.
        The exact wording of the initiative was taken directly from an earlier initiative proposed in 1993 (the initiative failed due to lack of signatures) that was approved so as to generate more time for signature collection.  The language of the petition was adapted from the seminal work on hemp, Jack Herer's "The Emperor Wears No Clothes."
        For more information, please contact Al Anders at (907) 248-2636 or visit

Water Agency In Oregon To Allow Use Of Medical Marijuana For Registered Patients

        Tualatin Valley, OR:  A public agency in Oregon has agreed to allow its employees to use marijuana medically off-the-job without fear of termination.
        The Tualatin Valley Water District is likely the first such agency in Oregon to permit patients who carry medical marijuana identification cards to use marijuana medically without fear of failing a drug test.  However employees who have federally issued commercial driver's licenses will not be allowed to use marijuana medically due to the federal prohibition of marijuana.
        In 1998, voters in Oregon approved an initiative to allow patients who suffer from conditions such as cancer and HIV/AIDS to use marijuana medically if they possess a state issued ID card.  The Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Resources has recently considered adding medical ailments such as anxiety, depression and sleep disorders to the list of medical conditions treatable with marijuana.
        "All employers in Oregon will be faced with it," said Greg DiLoreto the water district's general manager.  "There's no precedent.  We're setting a standard here.  If you step back from it being marijuana, all you're dealing with is a prescription drug, and employees will need to notify their supervisor if they're using it."
        "Nearly 30 years after NORML filed a federal lawsuit to make marijuana available as a medicine, finally we're starting to see a remarkable amount of pragmatic and logical policies being implemented by government officials -- albeit at the local level," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.

Former Congressmen Arrested By Wal-Mart Manager For Protesting The Store Where A Decriminalization Petitioner Was Arrested Days Before

        Ukiah, CA:  A Mendocino County initiative decriminalizing personal use and cultivation picked up steam last week, oddly after its sponsor, Richard Johnson, was arrested for petitioning in the wrong spot at a Wal-Mart. On Monday, 20 protesters picketed the Ukiah Wal-Mart and eight of them were placed under a citizens arrest for trespassing by the store manager Don Estes.
        Among those arrested were former Congressman Dan Hamburg who said Johnson's arrest brought out others who supported the initiative and that they are now helping to collect signatures.  In order to appear on the November ballot in Mendocino County, the group needs 2,868 signatures by March.  Johnson said the group has enough signatures collected, but they are looking for another 1,000 to be certain that they will have enough valid signatures.
        Police attempted to pacify the situation without any arrests but the protesters refused to submit to a list of restrictions by Wal-Mart management.
        "For them to not be willing to support the Bill of Rights does not reflect well on a company that claims they believe in American values," said protester David Drell, who was also arrested.
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.

Paraplegic Handed Seven Year Sentence For Selling Marijuana
-Second Such Incident In Two Weeks-

        Atlanta, GA:  A 51 year-old paraplegic was given a seven-year prison sentence last week for violating probation after police testified that he was selling marijuana.
        Louis Covar Jr., was arrested last March for felony marijuana possession and was subsequently handed a seven-month probation.  Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet told Covar in March that if he was to continue to use marijuana medically that he should "keep it to himself."  Last Friday Judge Overstreet said, "He's been in a bad situation for a long time...this just got to the point where he was showing a blatant disregard for the law."
        The Georgia Department of Corrections said the care Covar needs, if he is forced to serve the full seven year sentence, will cost $660,000, which is more than five times the amount of a typical prisoner.
        Covar's sentence follows the February 9 sentence of Deborah Lynn Quinn, an Arizona woman with no arms or legs, to a year in prison for selling a small amount of marijuana.
        "One cannot help but wonder if this calloused trend is not in fact a retaliation against the disabled and seriously ill citizens for their successful campaign to obtain the right to use marijuana medically," said Tom Dean Esq., NORML Litigation Director.  "These examples serve to remind us of why it is absolutely imperative that we reform the laws that make such gross miscarriages of justice possible."
        For more information, please contact Tom Dean Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.

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