News Release

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September 21, 2000

Ohio Supreme Court Says Marijuana's Aroma Gives Police Justification To Conduct Warrantless Automobile Searches

        Columbus, OH:  The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this Wednesday that police officers can search an automobile and the passengers without a search warrant, if the officer smells marijuana.
        The court ruled that the smell of marijuana was sufficient to justify a warrantless search of Christopher Moore's vehicle after he was stopped for running a red light.  The decision establishes what the court called a "plain smell" exception for police officers to conduct a warrantless search.
        Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton wrote in the decision, "We ... hold that the smell of marijuana, alone, by a person qualified to recognize the odor, is sufficient to establish probable cause to search a motor vehicle, pursuant to the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.  There need be no other tangible evidence to justify a warrantless search of a vehicle."
        In a separate opinion Justice Paul E. Pfeifer concurred in part and dissented in part with the decision.  "The search of the car here was reasonable because given the smell of marijuana smoke emanating from the car there was probable cause to believe that a crime was occurring or had occurred in the car.  The smell of marijuana smoke on a person is entirely different; it provides probable cause that marijuana has been smoked not that the person smoked it.  Everyone in a smoke-filled room smells of smoke whether or not they actually smoked."  "This is one more example of the 'drug exception' to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "It opens the possibility that police will simply fabricate the smell to justify an illegal search."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.

Journey For Justice In Texas

        Houston, TX:  Journey for Justice, a caravan of family members of drug war prisoners, medical marijuana patients and citizens who oppose the drug war, will begin a week-long march from Houston to Austin starting September 22.  The tour will include vigils, street theater and rallies to highlight various aspects of America's failed war on drugs.
        The Texas Journey for Justice will stress three critical points: the large number of non-violent drug offenders locked-up in Texas prisons; police and prison guard abuses in the name of the drug war; and the need for medical marijuana for the seriously ill.
        The Texas Journey will conclude on September 29 with a press conference at the state capitol and a prayer vigil at the Governor's mansion, where presidential candidate George W. Bush resides.
        "While public officials admit to and the media jokes about 'youthful indiscretions,' thousands of Americans who are now imprisoned have lost property, the right to vote and have been fired from their jobs," said Journey Director Kay Lee.  "To them this is no joke.  The drug war has damaged and destroyed millions of Americans, the credibility of our representatives and the future of our children."
        For more information, please contact Kevin Aplin of Journey For Justice at (321) 255-9790 or visit

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Calls For Marijuana Legalization;
Would Pardon Non-Violent Drug Offenders

        Boston, MA:  Among the estimated 80,000 citizens who attended last Saturday's Massachusetts Freedom Rally on Boston Common was Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne.  The Freedom Rally is an annual event sponsored by MASSCANN/NORML, the Massachusetts affiliate of NORML, to protest against laws which treat responsible marijuana smokers as criminals.
        Browne addressed the crowd with a passionate call to end the war on drugs.
        "The war on drugs is a tragic, flawed failure," Browne said.  "It is not the government's business to tell people what they should or should not put in their bodies.  If elected president, I would pardon every non-violent federal drug prisoner to make room for the murderers, rapists and child molesters who get out of prison early on plea bargains and early release."
        Browne has previously indicated his support for legalizing marijuana, challenging a prohibitionist party line.
        "Many of the politicians who say that marijuana is a 'gateway' drug apparently smoked marijuana themselves when they were younger," Browne said.  "By their logic, that makes them crack-heads and we should pay no attention to what they say."
        For more information, please visit:

California Party To Benefit NORML

        Tiburon, CA:  A benefit party for NORML will be held on Saturday, October 14, in Tiburon, CA.  Among those hosting the event are spiritual advisor Ram Dass, famed San Francisco attorneys Tony Serra and Michael Stepanian, San Francisco District Attorney Terrance Hallinan and drug policy expert Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D. Attendees are asked to make a minimum $100 contribution.
        Award-winning satirist and counter-culture journalist Paul Krassner will entertain at the party.  There will also be a silent art auction featuring an original Doonesbury strip donated by Garry Trudeau.
        "This is an opportunity to spend a wonderful evening with friends and colleagues who share your opposition to the marijuana laws, and help raise some money to support reform efforts," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.
        Space is limited so please register early by calling NORML at (202) 483-5500 or by visiting NORML's website at

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