April 5, 2001
NORML to Join Gov. Ventura Tomorrow in Support of Medical Marijuana at State-Sponsored Forum
MN: Members of NORML's board of directors and state affiliate will
participate Friday in a state-sponsored forum to discuss the therapeutic use of
marijuana. Governor Jesse Ventura (I), who Wednesday announced that he
"fully supports" marijuana's medical use, will also attend the
meeting, which is being jointly sponsored by the Department of Health and the
Department of Public Safety.
NORML board-member Dr. John P. Morgan, a physician and professor of Pharmacology at City University of New York Medical School, will speak at the forum in favor of marijuana's therapeutic value. "Marijuana's therapeutic uses are well documented in the modern scientific literature," says Morgan, who recently co-authored the book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts. "Politics, not medical science, has stood in the way of marijuana's approval as a legal medication." Minnesota NORML Chairman Aaron Neuman, who helped organize the forum, will also be in attendance.
Several bills pertaining to the use and study of medical marijuana are now pending before the Minnesota legislature. Two of these, S.F. 1967 and H.F. 2164, seek to exempt patients who use marijuana under a doctor's supervision from state criminal penalties. House File 1364, sponsored by Rep. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), would establish an affirmative defense of medical necessity for patients charged with violating state marijuana laws. In addition, both houses are considering bills that would appropriate $100,000 to conduct research trials on the drug's therapeutic utility.
Organizers of tomorrow's event hope that it will encourage lawmakers to move forward with several of these proposals. "Our hopes for Minnesota is that by encouraging research we can advance the acceptance of marijuana as an important medical tool and ultimately address the legal constraints at a national level," wrote Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a March 23 invitation letter. Malcolm noted that under a 1981 state law, "the THC Therapeutic Research Act," Minnesota doctors are permitted to conduct medical research on marijuana's constituents.
Additional backing for medical marijuana reform came from Gov. Ventura earlier this week. Speaking Wednesday at a student question-and-answer forum, Ventura stated: "Medical marijuana? I fully support it, absolutely. Who is the government to tell someone, if they have AIDS or cancer, what they should be taking?" Ventura speculated that his mother, who suffered from respiratory disease and relied on large amounts of narcotics to relieve her suffering, may have benefited from the drug, and said that legalizing it for medical use would not encourage the recreational use of marijuana or other illicit substances. Tomorrow's forum will take place from 8 a.m. to noon at the Snelling Office Park's Mississippi Room, 1645 Energy Park Dr., St. Paul.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-8751, or Aaron Neuman of Minnesota NORML at (651) 334-8780.
Michigan Petition Drive to Decriminalize Marijuana Starts Tomorrow
MI: A state-wide petition drive to decriminalize the use and
possession of marijuana will kick off tomorrow at the National Symposium on
Prohibition Reform Advocacy in Ann Arbor. Speaking in support of the
campaign will be NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, glaucoma patient Elvy
Musikka, one of eight patients legally permitted to smoke medical marijuana
under federal law, and petition organizer and Michigan State NORML Coordinator
Gregory Carl Schmid, Esq. of Saginaw.
Michigan's proposed initiative, known as the Personal Responsibility Amendment (PRA) of 2001, would decriminalize the possession and cultivation of small amounts marijuana within an individual's private residence. The proposal would also exempt seriously ill patients who use marijuana medically from state criminal penalties, and provide additional funding for drug education and treatment. The Board of State Canvassers unanimously approved the initiative's language on March 23. Supporters have until October 3 to collect the 300,000 signatures necessary to place the measure before a state-wide vote.
PRA organizers are hopeful that they will collect many of these signatures Saturday at the 30th Annual Hash Bash at the campus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Speakers for the event include R. Keith Stroup and former Michigan marijuana prisoner and activist John Sinclair.
For more information about the Personal Responsibility Amendment, please contact Gregory Schmid at (517) 239-9000 or visit the PRA website at: http://www.PRAyes.com.
Montana Legislature Authorizes Farmers to Grow Hemp
Legislation approved overwhelmingly by the House and Senate redefines marijuana
containing no more than 0.3 percent THC as an "agricultural crop," and
permits state-licensed farmers to cultivate it. Passage of the measure,
which the Senate approved 45-5 in February and the House approved 82-17
Wednesday, establishes a licensing procedure for farmers wishing to grow hemp as
a commercial crop. Montana's legislature joins only North Dakota in its
support of licensing and regulating hemp cultivation.
An amendment to the bill mandates Montana's Department of Agriculture to request the federal government amend its federal laws prohibiting hemp cultivation. The amendment also requests federal officials issue a "waiver that will allow this act to be effective without federal preemption."
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751 or John Masterson of Montana NORML at (406) 542-8696.
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