December 28, 2000
FCC Rules In Favor Of
Networks Should Have Identified ONDCP Sponsorship
DC: In response to a complaint filed by the NORML Foundation, the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled last Friday that five major
networks should have identified the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
as a sponsor of television programs embedded with anti-drug messages after
receiving government dollars for doing so.
The NORML Foundation filed the complaint with the FCC on Feb. 17, 2000 alleging that the ONDCP's practice of offering millions of additional advertising dollars for network programs that included anti-drug messages was in violation of the federal anti-payola statute. The FCC agreed, stating, "listeners and viewers are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded."
The networks were not fined by the FCC, but were put on notice. The FCC wrote in its decision, "sponsorship identification is required and we caution the networks to do so in the future."
The ONDCP's involvement with the networks was revealed by journalist Dan Forbes of Salon.com almost a year ago. Through a series of congressional hearings it was revealed that over a two-year span the networks received a total of $25 million in tax dollars for including anti-drug messages in scripts, which drew the ire of members of Congress and First Amendment activists.
"This was a sinister attempt by the drug czar to secretly alter program content by offering millions of dollars to those willing to use the programs for government propaganda," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director. "This FCC ruling clearly puts the incoming drug czar and the networks on notice that this is a violation of federal law and will no longer be tolerated."
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500. To view NORML's initial complaint and network responses, please visit www.norml.org/news/fcc_complaint/index.shtml.
Canadian Government Pays Saskatoon Company $5.75 Million To Grow Marijuana
Saskatchewan: Prairie Plant Systems Inc. has been contracted by Health
Canada, Canada's healthcare bureaucracy, to become the official supplier of
research grade marijuana.
The Canadian government will pay $5.75 million to the Saskatoon company over five years to grow 2000 pounds of marijuana. The company will also dry, process and roll over a million marijuana cigarettes.
Prairie Plant Systems Inc. will grow the marijuana 360 meters underground in an unused shaft of a copper and zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
"When they asked us about security, we told them that basically it was 360 meters underground and there was only one entrance," said Brent Zettel, president of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. "They didn't quite believe us ... we had to bring them out and show them."
Prairie Plant Systems Inc. will also distribute marijuana to patients authorized by Health Canada to legally use marijuana. The patients will not have to pay for the marijuana, but the patients and their doctors must take part in clinical research to determine the efficacy of cannabis for people suffering from diseases like AIDS and cancer. The clinical trials will begin within the year.
"The contract to grow medical marijuana in Canada is similar to the one currently in place in the U.S. between the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Mississippi/Oxford," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director. "However, Canadian patients and their advocates need to make sure that the Canadian program is an expansive one, rather than the U.S. model that only provides legal marijuana to eight patients."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751 or Brent Zettel, president of Prairie Plant Systems at (306) 975-1207.
Kubby Trial Ends In Mistrial; 11 Jurors Accept Prop. 215 Defense
A mistrial was declared in the high profile case against former California
gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby and his wife Michelle, both medical
marijuana patients. The trial ended last week after a hung jury (11-1 in
favor of acquitting the Kubbys) was declared on five counts of marijuana
possession, cultivation and conspiracy.
An almost unanimous jury supported the intent of California's medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, by refusing to convict the couple on charges involving the cultivation of 265 marijuana plants and alleged distribution. However, the jury convicted Steve Kubby of possession of a small amount of psilocyn (psychedelic mushrooms) and peyote buttons. He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 2.
The Kubbys were arrested on Jan. 19, 1999 after the Placer County Sheriff's Department raided their Tahoe home and confiscated the marijuana plants, computer records and hardware. The prosecution contended that the Kubbys were planning on selling the marijuana to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative (OCBC). The Kubbys denied the allegations and said they worked with the OCBC to insure their marijuana garden complied with local guidelines.
"The important thing is the jury upheld the Oakland guidelines," Steve Kubby said. "Everything else is really superfluous."
"While we feel badly that Steve Kubby was convicted on the other counts, we were here for a marijuana contest and we won that," said Tony Serra, Esq., Steve Kubby's lawyer.
For more information, please contact Tony Serra, Esq., at (415) 986-5591 or visit www.kubby.com.
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