News Release

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April 20, 2000

FCC Sends Formal Inquiries To Five Television Networks Allegedly Involved In ONDCP Payola Scandal

        Washington, DC:  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has sent inquiries to the five major television networks in response to NORML's complaint filed with the FCC against the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the networks.  This complaint arose from the ONDCP's participation in a program where the ONDCP would offer millions of additional advertising dollars if network programs had anti-drug messages embedded in their programming.
     The FCC has given the networks 30 days to respond to this inquiry.  The FCC is asking the networks if they have entered into verbal or written agreements with the ONDCP; which television programs were involved and to what extent; which stations aired the programs and at what times; and whether any ONDCP sponsorship identification aired in connection with the broadcast of the programs.
     "It is encouraging to see the FCC move forward with this investigation," said Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director.  "The ONDCP has arrogantly refused to disclose much of this same information requested by NORML in a Freedom of Information request, now demanded by the FCC from the networks. NORML will use all legal means available to foreclose the drug czar from assuming guardianship over the public drug policy debate."
     Dean filed the complaint on NORML's behalf on February 17, asking the FCC to sanction the ONDCP and the networks involved for their continued violations of the anti-payola law set forth in the Federal Communications Act.
     For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.  For further information on NORML's FCC complaint and related information, please visit:

California Initiative Would Eliminate Incarceration For Drug Possession Offenses

        Sacramento, CA:  Californians convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses, as well as parolees who use drugs, may get a reprieve from incarceration if voters approve an initiative this November titled "The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000."
     The act, sponsored by Campaign for New Drug Policies, would provide drug treatment services to drug offenders instead of incarceration.  If approved, $60 million will be allocated from the state general fund for drug treatment for the 2000-2001 fiscal year and $120 million each year after until 2005-2006.
     "This initiative is a smarter drug policy for California," said Dave Fratello, spokesman for Campaign for New Drug Policies.  "Taxpayers will save more than $1 billion dollars over five years, and non-violent drug offenders will get the treatment services they need."
     Campaign for New Drug Policies has collected 710,000 signatures, almost 300,000 more than required for the initiative to appear on the ballot, and will be turning those petitions in to the California Secretary of State by the end of the week.
     For more information, please contact Dave Fratello, spokesman for Campaign for New Drug Policies at (310) 394-2952 or visit

Canadian Police Release Marijuana Figures For 1999, Seizures Decline

        Ottawa, Ontario:  According to a report released Tuesday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), 800 tons of marijuana are estimated to have been grown in Canada last year.
     The annual report, entitled Drug Situation in Canada, stated approximately one million marijuana plants were seized in 1999.  The amount of marijuana seized dropped from 29,598 kilograms of marijuana in 1998, to 23,829 kilograms in 1999.  The average of tetrahydrocannabinol levels analyzed since 1995 was six percent.
     Marijuana trafficking from Canada to the U.S. remains a concern for the RCMP.  The Report specifically claimed the bulk of the marijuana trade occurs across the British Columbia/Washington state border and along the Great Lakes.  The RCMP also claims that Canadian marijuana is so valuable that it is traded to Americans on an equal pound for pound basis.
     In other Canadian news this week, the Ottawa Citizen and the Edmonton Sun came out in support of an end to the war on marijuana.
     The Ottawa Citizen published an editorial which stated: "[I]t stands to reason that with all the marijuana being grown in Canada, someone must be smoking it, and there just aren't enough ax murderers to account for it all.  There must be people who smoked marijuana and went on to be productive citizens.  There must even be people who do still smoke it and are productive."
     An Edmonton Sun columnist wrote this week: "So what exactly have the rash of busts over the past few months accomplished?  Have we rid the streets of marijuana?  No.  Are there fewer social ills because of the arrests?  No."
     For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.  To view the report, visit:

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