News Release

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

May 4, 2000

Reno Orders End To Hemp Seed Embargo
McCaffrey Hopes To Amend Controlled Substances Act To Outlaw Hemp

        Washington, DC:  The embargo ordered by U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey on sterilized hemp seeds entering the United States from Canada has been lifted, but the drug czar is already plotting drastic methods to stop the trade.
        U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has lifted the embargo in a letter that stated, "We lack legal authority to prohibit importation of hemp products unless the definition of marijuana in Title 21 U.S.C. Section 802.16 (c) [the Controlled Substances Act] is changed to remove the hemp exclusion."  Reno continued to say in her letter that in the case of hemp, Congress made its decision clear not to restrict hemp imports and that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are too low to trigger psychoactive effect.
        According to Hawaiian Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R-Kailua), who sponsored the bill legalizing industrial hemp in Hawaii, McCaffrey is now circulating proposed amendments to the Controlled Substances Act to officially ban hemp products from the U.S.  The three proposed amendments state: Strike all exemptions, completely eliminating the importation, trade and possession of hemp products; exempt only hemp fiber which is used to produce paper, cloth, and other "legitimate" commercial products; or provide for an exemption for products not used for human consumption.
        "This is a mean-spirited attempt by McCaffrey to destroy a viable segment of our economy that promotes health, environmental healing and natural alternatives to toxic synthetic fibers," said NORML Litigation Director Tom Dean, Esq.  "His proposed legislation can only be interpreted as a rejection of those values."
        Dean has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, on NORML's behalf, requesting copies of all correspondence concerning the legality of the zero-THC hemp seed importation policy, the effects of consuming hemp products on drug test results and the proposed amendments to the Controlled Substance Act.
        Thielen is urging a letter writing campaign to President Bill Clinton and other federal authorities and members of Congress, but not to McCaffrey.
        "He (McCaffrey) is doing everything he can to destroy the industrial hemp industry, and with each setback, he simply comes back harder," Thielen said.  "We need to ask President Clinton to reign him in for the good of America's farmers and businesses."
        For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751, or Rep. Cynthia Thielen at (808) 586-6480.

New York 'Grass' Premier To Benefit NORML

        New York, NY:  A special premier screening of Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann's latest movie, "Grass," benefitting NORML will take place at 7 P.M., Monday, May 22 at the AMC Empire 25 Theatres, located at 234 West 42nd Street.  Following the special screening, an afterparty has been scheduled at Bar Code, a club located at 1540 Broadway.
        Narrated by actor and hemp activist Woody Harrelson, "Grass" is a disaster movie with a cast of millions.  Years in the making, Mann's feature documentary presents a humorous and surprisingly balanced history of marijuana prohibition and recreational marijuana use in the late 20th century.  "Grass" opens at the Film Forum in New York on May 31st and in other major cities shortly thereafter.
        "NORML is thrilled to be associated with this marvelous film," said NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup.  "It's an extraordinary documentary that should be required viewing for all Americans.  Director/producer Ron Mann tells the story of how we ended up with the disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition."
        To reserve tickets ($50 each, includes film and party) or for more information, please contact NORML at (202) 483-5500.  Additional information about the film is available at

'Spitfire' Concert In Los Angeles To Raise Money For Imprisoned Medical Marijuana Patient

        Los Angeles, CA:  The House of Blues in Los Angeles will host a special Spitfire Tour concert, benefiting imprisoned medical marijuana patient Todd McCormick, at 7 p.m. this Sunday, May 7th.
        "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, X vocalist Exene Cervenka, publisher Larry Flint, actor/comedian Andy Dick and Spearhead leader Michael Franti are scheduled to speak.  Music will be provided by DJ Peretz a.k.a. Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros fame and members of Spearhead.
        McCormick, a bone cancer patient, was arrested along with author and AIDS patient Peter McWilliams for cultivating marijuana plants in a mansion in the fashionable suburb of Bel Air, CA.  McCormick and McWilliams have consistently claimed the marijuana was being grown to supply California "buyers clubs," that provide marijuana to patients who qualify under Proposition 215.  McCormick pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison after the trial judge refused to permit him to raise a medical necessity defense.  That decision is on appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Proceeds from the benefit will go to McCormick's legal defense fund.
        Tickets are $20 and are available through Ticketmaster.  For more information, please contact Kate Andrews or Mark Satlof at Shore Fire Media at (718)522-7171.  For more information on the Spitfire Tour please visit

Activists and Smokers Come Out For Millennium Marijuana March This Saturday

        New York, NY:  On Saturday, May 6th marijuana smokers and activists in over 80 cities worldwide will be participating in the Millennium Marijuana March.
        With the goal of ending the prohibition of marijuana, marchers will be carrying this simple but powerful message: "Stop all cannabis arrests; stop the lies; release the medicine; heal the sick; and end the prison state."
        For more information, including the march sites, please call (212) 677-7180 or visit

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