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...a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.

December 1, 1994

World AIDS Day

        Reports on World AIDS Day fail to note the widespread but illegal medical use of cannabis by People With AIDS (PWAs) to relieve the nausea and loss of appetite associated with both the disease and the medications given for it.  There are many thousands of PWAs using Cannabis Buyers' Clubs (CBCs) in major cities around the country.

Australia to Review Country's Cannabis Policies

        Australian government officials have convened a task force to review the country's policies regarding cannabis.  Officials attending the meeting announced the creation of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (MCDS).
        According to MCDS's draft resolution, the council will examine the therapeutic uses of whole smoked cannabis and commission a study of the social impact of various actual and potential legislative responses to cannabis and its many uses.
        The MCDS media release noted that the impetus for reviewing Australia's cannabis laws was that recent public opinion polls indicate Australians do not widely support the blanket prohibition of cannabis.  Federal Justice Minister Duncan Kerr said the report will make a significant contribution to the debate on cannabis in Australia.  "The report shows that 75% of people surveyed believed the use or possession of small quantities of cannabis should not be a criminal offense and over 50% of those surveyed felt that such activities should be legal."
        [For more information on Australia's review of its cannabis policy, please contact Dr. A. Wodak, Director of Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney's St. Vincent's Hospital, (011) 61-2-331-4344.]

Potent Pot Myth Down Under

        The Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported on November 22 that "Doctors warned today that a new, more potent hybrid variety of marijuana known as 'skunk' was being grown in Australia and had the potential to cause 'intense paranoia' in users."
        The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI) claimed in a recently released report that "skunk has been referred to overseas as 'mad weed.'"
        [Note: "Skunk" is a term used for a pungent variety of marijuana.  It is not known as "mad weed" in either Amsterdam or the United States, where it is popular.  For a report on the "potent pot" myth, contact NORML.]

In the Face of 'Drug War'
Bolivian President Favors Legalization

        According to a November 7 Voice of America (VOA) report, Bolivian President Gouzalo Sanchez de Lozada warned that South American drug traffickers seek to "Colombianize" his country.
        Later, in the V0A broadcast, President Sanchez de Lozada said he personally believes that drugs should be legalized because prohibition of substances for which there is a high demand has never worked. But he said that, as President of Bolivia, he cannot afford to defend that position because the decision on whether to legalize drugs must be made in the consuming countries.

British Billionaire Richard Branson
Bridges the Generation Gap

        0n November 25, London's Sunday Mirror ran a story with the headline "I Gave Pot to my Parents." Richard Branson tells how he once persuaded his elderly parents to smoke a cannabis joint.
        [Note: More and more elderly Britons are discovering the medical uses of cannabis.]

German Minister: Sell Hashish in Cafes

        United Press International (UPI) reported October 26:

"If Germany is serious about fighting drug dealers, it should take a leaf out of Holland's book and make soft drugs like hashish freely available in cafes," said Heidi Moser, social minister of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.

        Moser said a distinction should be made between hard drugs and cannabis, which she said is "not as dangerous as previously assumed."  Moser concluded that "what was most dangerous of all is criminalizing it [cannabis use]."

Smuggler Swallows Record Amount of Hashish

In Tokyo, according to a November 18 Reuters news article:

Airport police revealed the arrest of a British man who swallowed an extraordinary 4.4 pounds of hashish [sealed in condoms or balloons] in a bid to smuggle the drug into Japan.

"We could not believe it," an airport police spokesman said.  "We think it is a world record for this sort of thing.  It is twice the amount we've seen before."

"It took two days for him to pass all the packages through his system after we arrested him," the spokesman said.

        [Note: Even if the man had digested all 4.4 pounds it would not have been fatal or caused any lasting effect.]

One in Four Members of Dutch Parliament Have Tried Pot

        A Reuters news article reported November 19 on a Rotterdam University study showing that 93% of Dutch legislators drank alcohol -- and that more than one in four had used marijuana, but most had not done so recently.
        Researchers at Rotterdam University concluded that Dutch legislators' consumption of alcohol and marijuana was broadly in line with that of the Dutch population as a whole.

Kentucky Governor Looks Into Creating a Legal Hemp Industry

        A November 24 story in The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Kentucky farmers are looking for a crop to supplant burley (tobacco), so the state is looking to the past to find one: cannabis sativa... hemp.

It's the same plant some still grow in Kentucky, but illegally: Marijuana.

Governor Brereton Jones yesterday set up a task force to study whether a drug-free strain of hemp can again be a viable crop in Kentucky.  Fibers from the plant stalk could be used in paper and fabric production, he said.

He said: "If there are crops which can be grown legally for a profit in Kentucky, which we currently are not growing, then we as public officials have a duty to examine these crops and provide answers for the farmers of Kentucky."

The 17-member task force will study potential markets and legal barriers, Jones said in a news conference.

When the task force makes its recommendations by October 30, 1995, "we will know whether Kentucky can produce a drug-free hemp."

Jones took a preemptive strike at potential critics, chastising those who might misrepresent his intentions.  While he supports the idea of legalizing hemp production, "I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana," he said.

Gatewood Gaibraith, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has advocated legalizing marijuana and resurrecting the state's hemp industry, was not named to the task force.

Jones said including him would have made the task force a "political

        [Note: Prior to federal Marijuana Prohibition in 1937, Kentucky was the leading producer of hemp in the United States. There were no related social problems reported during the state's 200-year period of hemp cultivation.]

Another Tragic Marijuana-Related Death

        From an October 30 New York Times article on historic gravestone epitaphs:

Here lies the body of Thomas Kemp / Who lived by sheep and died by hemp

        This epitaph appears on the grave of an English sheep-stealer who was hanged with a rope made from hemp, cannabis sativa, marijuana.

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