News Release

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October 5, 2000

Canadian Government Will Legalize Medical Use

        Ottawa, Ontario:  The Canadian government last Friday decided not to appeal a July 31st Ontario Court of Appeals decision that declared Canada's prohibition of marijuana "unconstitutional" and said that if Parliament did not amend the law to allow for medical use within a year, marijuana possession in Ontario (for any purpose) would be legal.
        Two weeks ago, Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock announced he would change regulations to allow patients access to marijuana.  Until the new regulations are approved Canadians can continue to apply for a medical exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  To date, 71 Canadians are allowed to legally smoke marijuana.
        "We want to bring greater clarity to the process for those Canadians who may request the use of this drug to alleviate symptoms," Rock said.  "We want to do so in recognition of a need for a more defined process for those in pain and suffering."
        "Progress towards legalizing marijuana in Canada is bound to have a positive impact on U.S. policy," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "It is impossible for the U.S. to ignore the positive changes occurring with our neighbors to the north."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.

Swiss To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

        Berne, Switzerland:  The Swiss government, on Monday, announced its intention to decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana.  The government said it would draw up legislation to allow for marijuana consumption in the next year.
        The Swiss government took this action after hearing widespread support from law enforcement agencies and community associations, despite some concerns about possible "drug tourism."
        "Two-thirds of the organizations consulted said they were in favor of this move," said Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss.
        Dreifuss said the Swiss government will establish a special commission on marijuana policy to seek advice on such issues as a minimum age to smoke marijuana (16 or 18 years old) and drug abuse prevention issues.
        No decision has been made as to whether the cultivation or sale of marijuana will be accepted, but Dreifuss said if growers respected some restrictions, their activities "could be tolerated, even though still punishable by law."
        "Switzerland's proposed marijuana policy sounds very similar to the 25-year policy in the Netherlands," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "It is time for the U.S. government to stop bucking the worldwide trend of marijuana law reform.  It's a mystery why the U.S. is recalcitrant in examining the utility of marijuana prohibition, while Europe and Canada more toward measured and sensible law reform."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751. Releases Hemp Friendly Voter Guide

        Oak Bluff, MA: this week published a voter guide publicizing the positions of all federal candidates running for the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency on the subject of deregulating industrial hemp agriculture in America. is distributing its voter guide through hemp and natural food retailers, their state coordinators and at universities.  The organization is also encouraging people to "Steal This Voter Guide" by visiting and printing it out online.
        "We have been promoting voter registration around this issue all spring," said Eric Steenstra, chairman of non-profit VoteHemp, Inc.  "There is a powerful voting block out there that cares about considering the environment and creating a sustainable economy."
        For more information, please contact Lloyd Hart, National Coordinator of the VoteHemp campaign at (508) 693-5992 or visit

Marijuana Use Drops Among Dutch Youth

        Amsterdam, The Netherlands:  According to a national survey of risk behavior among Dutch youth aged 10-18, marijuana use is on the decline for the first time in 16 years.
        The survey, published every four years by the Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction, showed that 20 percent in that age group had used marijuana at least once, but less than 10 percent had smoked marijuana in the previous month.  Among the youth who had smoked marijuana within the past month, a third said they had smoked two or more times a week.  The survey also found that a third of the youthful marijuana smokers bought the marijuana from "coffee shops" which openly sell marijuana.
        "While NORML discourages adolescent marijuana use, the 'Dutch model' of quasi-legalization appears to succeed in two areas where the U.S. policy fails miserably: per capita, fewer adolescents use marijuana in the Netherlands then in the U.S.; and the separation of marijuana from the distribution channels for 'hard' drugs such as cocaine, heroin or LSD."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.  To view the study, please visit

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