News Release

1001 Connecticut Ave, NW - Ste 710 - Washington, DC 20036
Tel. 202.483.8751 - Fax 202.483.0057 - E-mail - Internet

April 6, 2000

Willie Nelson Records NORML Public Service Announcement

        Washington, DC:  Country singer Willie Nelson, America's most beloved marijuana smoker and a good friend to NORML, has lent his voice and one of his most recognized songs to a 30-second radio public service announcement (PSA) calling for an end to marijuana arrests.
        "Nearly 700,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges last year," Nelson says in the PSA as his hit song "On The Road Again" plays in the background.  "That's an enormous waste of law enforcement resources and terribly unfair to those arrested and their families.  It's time we stopped arresting adults who smoke marijuana responsibly."
        The listener is then directed to NORML's website and toll free telephone number.
        NORML is sending the PSA to radio stations nationwide with the request that they schedule the PSA for free airtime.  If radio stations refuse to play the PSA for free, NORML is asking supporters to raise money to buy airtime to play the 30-second spot.
        "Willie is perhaps the best known marijuana smoker in America, and one of the country's favorite entertainers," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "It's a real honor to have him as our national spokesperson."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.  To listen to the 30-second PSA, visit the NORML website at

Maryland House and Senate Pass Industrial Hemp Bill

        Annapolis, MD:  An industrial hemp bill establishing a four-year pilot program passed the Maryland House of Delegates on March 31 with a 128-8 vote, and unanimously passed the Maryland Senate this past Monday.
        If signed into law by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), the pilot program would begin on July 1, 2000.  The legislation requires that the state's secretary of agriculture administer the pilot program in consultation with state and federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, which would have to approve any cultivation plots.  According to the legislation, only state-owned land may be used to cultivate industrial hemp during the duration of the study.
        "Industrial hemp's utility is well-established throughout the world," said Scott Colvin, NORML Publication's Director.  "It is wonderful to see Maryland joining the growing number of states that are attempting to boost a sagging farm industry with an ecologically and economically sound crop like hemp."
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.

Britain's Drug Authority OKs Full-Scale Patient Cannabis Trials

        London, England:  Britain's Medicines Control Agency has given approval to GW Pharmaceuticals for human medical marijuana trials.
        This study is the first full-scale patient trials of therapeutic cannabis products and will involve 2,000 patients.  Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, severe pain and spasticity will be involved in the trials.
        "Our aim is to test some of the claims which have been made for the medicinal qualities of cannabis in a structured clinical research program," said Dr. Willy Notcutt who leads this first trial.  "This is an exciting moment, and we hope very much that our findings will lead to significant improvements in the pain relief available for sufferers of multiple sclerosis and other debilitating conditions."
        "It's remarkable that the British government has moved so quickly on the matter of conducting actual human trials with marijuana," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "The British have gone from white paper to parliamentary report to research implementation in less than two years.  Compare that with the U.S., where, in the last 30 years the government has fought 'tooth and nail' to not allow medical access to marijuana.  The government has rejected the findings of two of its own commissions; fought NORML in a 22-year lawsuit; canceled a program that provided government grown marijuana to select seriously ill medical patients; propagandized against voter initiatives in seven states; supported congressional efforts to not count the votes in a medical marijuana voter initiative in the District of Columbia; and finally the U.S. government even threatened physicians who spoke to their patients about medical marijuana.  What is wrong with the U.S. Government?"
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.

Teenager Sentenced To Life In Prison For Marijuana Possession In Malaysia

        Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:  A teenager with no legal representation was handed a life-sentence in prison and eight lashes with a cane for possessing 37 grams of packaged marijuana and one marijuana plant.
        Mohd Naziff Ahmad, 18, was arrested at his home on November 10, 1999 and was charged with possession of a marijuana plant under Malaysia's harsh Dangerous Drug Act.
        Last Thursday, the Sessions Court sentenced Mohd Naziff to the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and six lashes with a cane.  Four days later, a lower magistrate's court tacked on two more lashes and another two years to the higher court's sentence.
        Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director, has contacted Amnesty International to determine how NORML might assist in bringing national attention to this tragedy.
        "While NORML's mission is to reform marijuana laws here in America, it is impossible to ignore this extreme violation of human rights and human dignity," Dean said.  "For a young man to be tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the harmless possession of marijuana in the privacy of his own home, without even being allowed to consult with an attorney, is an insult to our collective conscience."
        For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.

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