News Release

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December 14, 2000

Alberta Judge Rules Parliament Must Create Medical Marijuana Source Or Cultivation Will Be Legal In the Providence

        Calgary, Alberta:  An Alberta judge this week not only cleared the way for a multiple sclerosis patient to legally grow marijuana for his own treatment, but stated if Parliament does not amend its marijuana laws to allow for a legal supply to medical marijuana patients within a year, it will be legal for anybody to grow cannabis in the province.
        In the case, Justice Darlene Acton dismissed marijuana cultivation charges against Grant Krieger, a multiple sclerosis patient.
        In her ruling, Justice Acton cited the "absurdity" of the current regulations for patients with a medical exemption under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  There are over 70 patients in Canada who can legally use marijuana medicinally, but as Justice Acton stated in her ruling, "The irony is that there is no source in Canada for marijuana at this time."
        "It's another message to the government of Canada that they have to address this issue more thoroughly and Section 56 just doesn't cut it," said Adriano Iovinelli, QC, Kreiger's attorney.
        A similar ruling was made this summer by an Ontario judge who gave Parliament until July 31, 2001 to allow for the medical use of marijuana or marijuana possession will be legal for all Ontario residents.
        "The courts in Canada are forcing the politicians to deal more honestly with the medical use issue," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "We hope our judges will find the courage to help patients in this country.  The U.S. Supreme Court will have that opportunity this spring, when they review the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative case from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court Of Appeals."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500 or Adriano Iovinelli, QC, at (403) 269-3655.

Nevada Judicial Commission Urges State Leaders To Reduce Marijuana Possession From A Felony To A Citation Misdemeanor

        Carson City, NV:  The Nevada Supreme Court's Judicial Assessment Commission is urging the state legislature to lower the severity of simple marijuana possession throughout the state.
        The commission has suggested the state, the last state to maintain a felony penalty for marijuana possession, amend Nevada's marijuana law to reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a misdemeanor citation, resulting in no arrest and a fine.  Possession of one to four ounces of marijuana would be considered a gross misdemeanor and punishable of up to a year in jail.  Presently a marijuana possession arrest of any amount is considered a felony and carries a one to four year prison term and a $5,000 fine.
        "Nevada is the only state that treats these crimes as felonies," said Justice of the Peace, Nancy Oesterle, speaking for the commission.  "The committee specifically does not condone these two crimes, but it wants the law to be applicable to what's really happening in the court system.  This is a realistic approach to these crimes."
        "For a state with legalized gambling and prostitution, it has always seemed incongruous to treat marijuana smoking as a felony offense," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "It's good to see the state acknowledge and address this problem."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.

Religious Leaders Call On Clinton To Release Federal Non-Violent Drug Offenders

        Washington, DC:  A coalition of over 600 religious leaders in the United States last week asked President Bill Clinton to commute the sentences of non-violent federal drug offenders in the final weeks of his term.
        The coalition has set up a website for religious leaders to sign their letter to the president.
        The letter reads, "As faith leaders who cherish Divine justice and mercy for all persons, we ask you to grant clemency to and to release on supervised parole those Federal prisoners who have served at least five years for low-level, nonviolent involvement in drug cases (as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice).  Mr. President, scores of Americans are serving unconscionably long sentences for drug offenses - in some cases twenty years or more - which are grossly out of proportion to the nature and severity of their crimes.  These unduly severe sentences violate human rights and waste scarce criminal justice resources.  The continued incarceration of such offenders does not serve any meaningful purpose."
        As part of Christian and Jewish faiths, every 50th year is a Jubilee year, in which debts are forgiven and prisoners are liberated.  This year is a Jubilee year for Christians.
        "For years, the ONDCP's General Barry McCaffrey, along with his predecessors, have always encouraged citizens to seek out religious leaders to help heal America's difficult relationship with drug abuse," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "Citizens, in fact, have sought out religious leaders and many of them support the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency and its basic call for education and treatment, rather than the criminal justice system to reach drug abusers."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751 or the Coalition for Jubilee Clemency at (202) 312-2015 or visit their website at

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