News Release

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December 7, 2000

President Clinton States Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized

        Los Angeles, CA: This week, in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, President Bill Clinton says he believes people should not be arrested for possessing marijuana.
        The self-admitted one-time marijuana smoker, who claims he did not inhale, told the magazine which hits newsstands on Friday, "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be."
        He added, "We really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment.  Some people deliberately hurt other people and they ought to be in jail because they can't be trusted on the streets.  Some people do things that are so serious that they have to be put in jail to discourage other people from doing similar things.  But a lot of people are in prison because they have drug problems or alcohol problems and too many of them are getting out, particularly out of state systems, without treatment, without education skills, without serious efforts at job placement."
        "President Clinton's incredibly belated support for decriminalizing marijuana is a bittersweet moment for marijuana law reform supporters," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "On one hand, no less than the president of the United States supports NORML's long-held tenet that responsible adult marijuana smokers shouldn't be arrested.  On the other hand, during Clinton's eight-year term in office, we witnessed the largest number of marijuana arrests in our history - over 4,175,357 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges between 1992-99.  NORML hopes that President Clinton, like former President Jimmy Carter, will commit his post-presidency to fighting for great social justice causes - such as ending the war on marijuana smokers."
        St. Pierre continued, "I wonder if Clinton's wife, Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), agrees with her husband's newly stated position on marijuana?"
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.

CA Attorney General Rules Against Non-Consensual Student Searches

        Sacramento, CA:  California State Attorney General Bill Lockyear ruled last week that drug searches of student backpacks, without the student's consent, violates the U.S. Constitution.
        Over a year ago Oxnard Unified High School District asked for a ruling on a proposed policy where students would be asked to leave their classroom without their backpacks, while dogs were brought in to sniff for drugs. If a dog found drugs, the students belongings would be searched by school administrators without the student's consent and while the student was not present.
        Lockyear found that random searches, without probable cause or the student's consent, is an illegal seizure under the Fourth Amendment.  In his opinion he wrote, "It would be unreasonable and thus unconstitutional under the federal Constitution and the California Constitution to separate the students from their personal belongings in order to have the belongings sniffed by drug detection dogs."
        "Attorney General Lockyear has shown he respects the Fourth Amendment and the important protections it affords, even when the situation involves searching for drugs," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "Perhaps the erosion of Constitutional rights is finally ending."
        Lockyear's ruling will be treated as law in California, unless it is challenged in a court case or changed by legislation.
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.

Drug Unit Fights Oregon Forfeiture Law

        Portland, OR:  A Lincoln County, OR narcotics team has filed the first lawsuit challenging Measure 3, the Oregon Property Protection Act, which passed with 66 percent of the vote in this past election.
        The act reforms current civil asset forfeiture laws by requiring a criminal conviction before authorities can seize property.  In addition, the proceeds from such seizures would now go to drug treatment programs instead of enriching the law enforcement agency that makes the seizure.  The new law takes effect today.
        The lawsuit, filed by the Lincoln Interagency Narcotics Team and Lincoln County, contends that the new law contains too many provisions and violates the state constitution's requirement that two or more proposed constitutional amendments be voted on separately.
        David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said he believes that Measure 3 will be upheld by the courts.
        "I certainly understand that law enforcement folks, and forfeiture counsel, who have been living high on the hog on these programs, are not happy," he said.  "But the reality is they were grossly out of touch with the majority of Oregon voters."
        "Oregon voters should be outraged to have narcotic officers wasting taxpayers' money in an attempt to overrule the clear intent of Oregon's citizens," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "Talk about 'naked opposition.'"
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director or Geoff Sugerman, political consultant who helped run the Measure 3 campaign, at (503) 778-5616.

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