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February 7, 2002

NORML Files Supreme Court Brief in Student Drug Testing Case

"Goal of schools should be educating students, not policing them."

Washington, DC: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed a friend of the court brief Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a student's right to participate in non-athletic, extracurricular activities without being subjected to random drug testing.

"The primary goal of schools should be educating students, not policing them," said Donna Shea, Legal Director of The NORML Foundation. "Voluntary participation in extracurricular activities alone should not reduce a student's expectation of privacy nor forfeit his or her Fourth Amendment guarantees to be free from unreasonable searches."

NORML joins the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the CATO Institute, and Common Sense for Drug Policy in urging the Court to affirm a decision rendered last year by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down an Oklahoma county school district's student drug testing policy as unconstitutional. The outcome of the case, Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County [OK], et al. v. Lindsay Earls, et al. will likely determine whether drug testing can be expanded beyond the Court's previously defined limits which allow for the testing of student athletes as described in Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (1995).

In its brief, NORML argues that drug testing non-athlete students without cause does not fit within the closely guarded category of constitutionally-permitted warrantless searches. The brief states: "Individualized suspicion of wrongdoing is normally required before a search may be conducted. Special needs may justify dispensing with individualized suspicion in narrowly drawn situations, if the privacy interest is minimal and the means of achieving it serves those ends."

However, according to NORML's Donna Shea: "This is not one of those special needs cases. The school set up a pretext for casting a wide net to drug test its students in a school that had no drug problem. As the Court of Appeals pointed out, if it permitted this drug testing policy, schools could test all of their students simply as a condition of attending school."

Oral argument in the case is scheduled for March 19, 2002.

For more information, please contact Donna Shea, NORML Foundation Legal Director, at (202) 483-8751. NORML's brief is available online at the NORML Legal Committee Brief Bank at:

Pot Admission Bars Former Olympian Entry to U.S.

Washington, DC: Immigration officials have barred 1998 gold medalist Ross Rebagliati entry to the U.S. because he is an admitted marijuana smoker, according to Reuters News Wire. Officials claim they are enforcing a federal law that allows the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to forbid entry to foreign citizens who have admitted past drug use, even if they have never been arrested or convicted of a crime.

"Not only is this law patently absurd, it is clearly selectively enforced," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation. "If Ross Rebagliati is forbidden from entering the U.S., how is it that Sir Paul McCartney - an outspoken marijuana activist and convicted pot smoker - was allowed entry to this country to perform at last Sunday's Super Bowl? Apparently, these regulations are as subjectively applied as the general laws prohibiting marijuana."

Rebagliati tested positive for pot after winning the 1998 gold medal in snowboarding. He said he quit smoking the drug in 1997, and blamed the positive drug test on exposure to second hand smoke. He was eventually allowed to retain his gold medal.

Rebagliati wished to enter the U.S. to attend the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and also visit his mother, who lives in California.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751.

Grace Period Ends for Hemp Food Consumers

Washington, DC: A 90-day grace period for hemp food consumers to voluntarily dispose of their products ended Sunday. From now on, any consumer or store that possesses or sells edible hemp goods containing even trace amounts of THC could face federal drug charges, according to a new "interpretive rule" passed by the Drug Enforcement Agency in October.

"Hemp food products have absolutely no psychoactive effects and are harvested under strict regulation from industrial hemp plants in Canada and Europe," explained Congressmen George Miller (D-CA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) in a recent "Dear Colleague" letter opposing the ban. Their letter, which also contained a hemp energy bar - a product that would now likely be deemed illegal under the DEA's controversial interpretation of the federal law - added, "The DEA should encourage the development and use of these products and not set unwarranted barriers to their production which cannot be overcome."

According to internal Department of Justice (DOJ) documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the DEA lacks the legal authority to restrict or criminalize the possession of hemp foods and oil products. In January, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and seven hemp food companies filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals urging the court to enjoin the DEA ban.

According to news reports by the Associated Press and others, most hemp food manufacturers and retail chains will continue to stock and distribute edible hempen goods despite the new DEA rule.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751.

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