News Release
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August 15, 2001

World's Largest Marijuana Legalization Rally to Be Held This Weekend in Seattle

Seattle, WA: More than 100,000 people are expected to attend this year's Seattle Hempfest, taking place this Saturday and Sunday at Myrtle Edwards Park. The two-day event will feature more than 70 speakers, 50 bands, DJs and a special hemp expo. This weekend's gathering is expected to be the largest pot legalization rally in history.

"We are demanding that patients get their medical marijuana, that American farmers be allowed to produce [hemp,] and that humans not suffer the indignity and immeasurable injustices that we have endured for our love of one of our Earth's finest creations - the cannabis plant," says Hempfest director Vivian McPeak.

NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup calls the event "a wonderful celebration and a powerful call for an end to prohibition." Both Stroup and NORML Foundation head Allen St. Pierre are among the list of prominent speakers at this year's gathering. Other speakers include:

Vincent Bugliosi - author, former federal prosecutor
Sandee Burbank - Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse
Nora Callahan - November Coalition
Tommy Chong - comedian
Chris Conrad - author, Hemp: Lifeline to the Future
Stephen Dillon - Indiana NORML
Dale Gieringer - California NORML
Debbie Goldsberry - Cannabis Action Network
Jack Herer - author, The Emperor Wears No Clothes
Norm Kent - NORML Board of Directors
Nancy Lord Johnson - NORML Board of Directors
Ann McCormick - Compassionate Moms
Mikki Norris - author, Shattered Lives
Dennis Peron - founder, SF Cannabis Buyers' Club
Krist Novoselic - musician, JAMPAC
John Sajo - Voter power
Kevin Zeese - Common Sense for Drug Policy

For a complete listing of speakers and performers, please visit: For more information, please call (206) 781-5734.

Bush Administration Contemplates Easing Ban on Student Aid For Marijuana Offenders

Washington, DC: Department of Education (DOE) officials are preparing to reinterpret a 1998 law that threatens to bar federal loans to an estimated 34,000 students convicted of marijuana possession or other drug offenses, according to a report in Tuesday's Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article states that the Bush administration is expected to issue new regulations limiting the ban to include only those students convicted of drug charges while receiving financial aid. Under the law's present interpretation, financial aid applicants who have ever been convicted of a drug offense, including the misdemeanor possession of marijuana, are not eligible to receive federal grants, loans or work assistance.  No other criminal convictions - including violent offenses - automatically disqualify applicants from student aid eligibility.

According to a source quoted in yesterday's CHE, Congressman Mark Souder (R-Ind.), author of the 1998 amendment, and high-level DOE officials are close to an agreement that would reinterpret the law so that it will no longer be applied retroactively.

NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup said that new regulations would provide some relief to the thousands of convicted marijuana offenders currently affected by the ban, but will still unfairly deny access to college to thousands of students each year. Stroup said that a far better alternative would be for Congress to approve House Bill 786 repealing the ban.

The Associated Press reported in July that as many as 34,000 students could be denied financial aid this coming school year because of prior drug convictions. Last year, the DOE withheld aid from 8,100 students.

For more information, please contact Kris Krane of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Marijuana Extracts for Pain Study To Begin in Canada

Ottawa, Ontario: An English pharmaceutical company specializing in medicinal cannabis extracts has received permission to study the effects of a marijuana spray on chronic pain patients in Canada. The upcoming randomized, double-blind study will be the first trial of its kind in Canada.

"The start of clinical trials in Canada is the first phase of our international trials program," said Dr. Geoffrey Guy, chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals in London. "The Canadian health authorities have recognized the potential contribution of cannabis-based medicines in the treatment of many different conditions."

Patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other forms of chronic pain will participate in the study, which will be performed at The Rehabilitation Centre in Ottawa.

Results of a previous U.K. trial of 75 patients found that marijuana extracts administered under the tongue greatly reduced pain, muscle spasms and bladder dysfunction in patients with MS.

Since June, Health Canada has appropriated more than a million dollars to fund medicinal cannabis research, including an $840,000 grant to study the efficacy of smoked marijuana in the treatment of the AIDS wasting syndrome.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.

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