February 1, 2001
Decriminalization and Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced In New Mexico Legislature
NM: Both a medical marijuana and a marijuana decriminalization bill
were introduced in the New Mexico state legislature yesterday.
Sens. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque) and Roman Maes III (D-Santa Fe) introduced Senate Bill 319 and Rep. Joe Thompson (R-Albuquerque) introduced House Bill 431, which would allow seriously ill patients to legally use marijuana as a medicine. The bills would cover patients suffering from such debilitating diseases such as cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; and severe muscle spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease. The proposals would revise the "Lynn Pierson Act," a long dormant New Mexico medical marijuana law originally enacted in 1978 that allowed for the medical use of marijuana only in a research setting.
Sen. McSorley also introduced Senate Bill 315 which would decriminalize the possession of marijuana for recreational use. Anyone over 18 years old who possesses an ounce or less of marijuana would face a $100 civil fine enforced with a citation and no arrest.
Gov. Gary Johnson (R) proposed the two marijuana law reform proposals in January, based on a report prepared by the New Mexico Drug Policy Advisory Group, which called the "war on drugs" a failure, said that sick and dying patients should be allowed to use marijuana medicinally and called for decriminalizing minor marijuana offenses.
Over the past two weeks, NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor at the Harvard Medical School (Emeritus) and Dr. John P. Morgan, professor of pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School, have traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to meet with legislators and to build support for the two proposals.
"It's an exciting time to be working with the New Mexico legislature," Stroup said. "The individual members seem aware that current drug policies aren't working, and are interested in learning more about the governor's proposals. New Mexico has a short 60-day legislative session, so we'll know soon weather these proposals enjoy majority support."
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500 or visit http://capwiz.com/norml2.
New Study Debunks So-Called 'Gateway Theory'
DC: A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health
has challenged the so-called "gateway theory" and suggests that people
born after the 1960s are less likely than baby boomers to progress from using
marijuana to hard drugs.
The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded the study, which was led by Andrew Golub, Ph.D., of the National Development and Research Institute.
"Our study shows that children born before World War II rarely ever progressed to hard substances, and those born since the early 1970s were only about half as likely to progress from marijuana to cocaine powder, crack or heroin, than those who were born in the 1960s," Golub said. "Most importantly, all indications are that the rate of progression to harder drugs may be continuing to decline even today."
He continued, "A careful analysis of all of the data suggests that the gateway phenomenon characterized the drug use subculture of some baby boomers, but does not apply in the same manner to the generation that started using marijuana in the mid-1990s."
The researches analyzed data from more than 100,000 respondents from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse from 1979 to 1997.
In 1999, a report presented by the Institute of Medicine entitled "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," concluded that there is no "evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent use of other illicit drugs."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.
Bill In SD House Would Allow For Medical Necessity Defense For Patients
A bill allowing patients who are charged with marijuana possession to present a
medical necessity defense in court has been introduced in the South Dakota House
of Representatives. To qualify, patients must possess a medical
recommendation from their doctor to smoke marijuana as a part of their
House Bill 1120, introduced by Rep. Tom Hennies (R-Rapid City), will be debated in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning.
"People need to understand that there are people in this state really hurting, and we're allowed to give them morphine or Darvon, very serious drugs, but we can't give them marijuana because of a national paranoia," said Rep. Hennies, a former police chief. "People expect cops and judges to use common sense. This bill just reinforces that."
A Senate bill calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, as opposed to HB 1120, which only allows for a medical necessity defense, was defeated in committee last week.
"What this bill (HB 1120) does, is take all the decision making on medicinal marijuana out of the hands of the legislature, and put it where it belongs, with local juries of an accused person's peers," said Bob Newland, president of South Dakota NORML.
For more information, please contact Bob Newland of South Dakota NORML at (605) 255-4032. To learn more about HB1120 please visit http://capwiz.com/norml2.
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