News Release

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July 6, 2000

Indiana Congressman Introduces Legislation To Override State Medical Marijuana Laws

        Washington, DC:  Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) introduced legislation in Congress (HR 4802) last Thursday seeking to override state laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
        Souder says the federal prohibition of marijuana should take precedence over state laws in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon and Washington that legalized marijuana for medical purposes.  But not all federal laws preempt state law, and Congress would have to specifically declare its intention to preempt the field, which it has not done.
        "It would do enormous damage to our democratic principles were Congress to overrule the state elections approving the medical use of marijuana in six states," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.
        Souder has called the push for legalized medical marijuana "a phony excuse to be a pot head" and has called the push for medical marijuana a "repulsive effort to legalize drugs in the name of sick people."
        "Legislation such as Rep. Souder's proposal suggests that he and the Republican leadership are more interested in demonstrating that they're tough on drugs than establishing a compassionate program for the sick and dying."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.

Scottish Parliament Considers 'Dutch Coffee House' Legalization

        Edinburgh, Scotland:  Ministers in the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have proposed a plan to allow a four-year test trial for "Dutch style" cannabis cafes where patrons can buy and smoke marijuana legally.
        Tommy Sheridan, the Scottish Socialist Party leader, called on other ministers to support the four-year legalization plan. Citing Dutch crime statistics, Scottish ministers such as Sheridan believe the cannabis coffee shops would lessen the use of hard drugs and reduce crime.
        "The current system is failing and I think there should be a more grown-up debate about it," said Donald Gorrie a Liberal Democrat MSP.
        Although this proposal has serious support from Scottish MSPs, the final decision rests with the United Kingdom Parliament.
        "Most European countries continue to lessen the penalties for smoking marijuana, while here in America, our lawmakers continue to 'toughen up' our marijuana laws leading to record levels of marijuana arrests," said Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director.
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.

Naturally Occurring Cannabinoids Trigger Feeding In New Born Mice

        Jerusalem, Israel:  A scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found that naturally occurring cannabinoids in newborn mice trigger feeding, and without these natural chemicals the animals frequently die within days of being born.
        Cannabinoids are chemicals related to the active ingredient of cannabis that are produced naturally in the body.
        Ester Fride, the scientist who conducted the study, injected newborn mice with a chemical that blocks cannabinoid receptors in the brain.  None of these mice fed from their mothers and all either died within a week or developed slowly.  Fride then treated the mice with enough of the active component of cannabis (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to override the effects of the cannabinoid blocker and the mice developed normally.
        "It seems that the pups (young mice) are completely unable to ingest food without endogenous cannabinoids," Fride said.
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Pledges To Pardon All Non-Violent Drug Offenders

        Anaheim, CA:  Harry Browne, the 1996 Libertarian Party candidate for president of the United States, has been nominated again by the party for their candidate in the 2000 election.  Browne's 2000 platform is heavy on drug law reform, saying the federal government "has no constitutional authority" to prosecute a marijuana offense and that the present war on drugs is a "total failure and there is hardly a soul in America that doesn't know it."
        "On my first day in office, I will pardon everyone who has been convicted of a non-violent federal drug offense," Browne said.  "I will empty the federal prisons of the marijuana smokers, and make room for the truly violent criminals who are terrorizing our citizens."
        "Today there are hundreds of thousands of people in prisons who have never committed violence against anyone, never stolen anything, never threatened anyone.  They are there for the act of a marijuana cigarette, or for selling some marijuana to their friends...  Meanwhile, murderers rapists and child molesters are released early because the prisons are overflowing with drug prisoners."
        For more information, please contact Robert Brunner, Browne's Deputy Press Secretary at (703) 837-8769, or visit

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