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

January 20, 1995

Another Federal Judge Declines Drug Cases and
Agrees That Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized

        December 25, The Buffalo News reported, "Troubled with three long-term sentences he felt forced to make in recent weeks, U.S. District Judge, John T. Curtin says he will stop hearing drug cases in the coming year rather than continue to be part of a system of punishment that 'just isn't working.'
        Curtin, citing restrictive sentencing guidelines in federal drug cases, told The Buffalo News he will join a boycott that was begun last year by some other judges."
        Judge Curtin also told The Buffalo News that, "He ... feels Congress should take a close look at the decriminalization of marijuana, but not cocaine or other hard drugs.  [Emphasis added -- ed.]
        Since May 1993, an estimated 50 senior federal judges (out of 849 federal judges) have begun a boycott of drug cases.  "Boycotting" judges have cited excessive punishment via mandatory minimum and guideline sentencing as their reasons for declining to hear drug cases.
        Curtin told The Buffalo News that the bigger issue is that today's anti-drug program isn't working.  He said he would rather see the federal government spend more money on education, counseling, and drug prevention programs, rather than towards putting people in prison.
        "You don't even have to think of it in moral terms.  In financial terms, it just isn't working," Curtin said.

First Annual HEMP AID Benefit Concert Announced

        January 11, Atlanta, Georgia, In the tradition of Live Aid and Farm Aid, two marijuana activists have joined forces to present HEMP AID - a Benefit for the Re-legalization of Marijuana.
        James Bell (Founder of Georgia NORML) and Theresa Yarbrough, current Director of GA NORML, hope that the First Annual event will not only raise consciousness of the impact that marijuana prohibition has on the lives of millions of Americans, but that it will also raise much needed cash which will be used to fight legal battles and help to secure the freedom of marijuana prisoners.
        Bell knows the impact of the marijuana laws.  He's presently finishing a two year sentence in a Georgia Prison Work Camp (for the sale of few ounces of marijuana).
        Yarbrough learned the peculiar and excessive effects of marijuana prohibition when she was arrested in 1993 for possession of one pound of marijuana in her home.  Later convicted, she was sentenced to ten years probation and banished from residing in GA's District 31 -- removed from her community for possessing marijuana.
        Both activists have been instrumental in organizing some of the largest pro-hemp events.  The two organizers want it to be known that 1.) HEMP AID is not intended to be a 'Let's smoke pot event' but a 'Let's help people event', 2.) negotiations are under way to secure a national head-line rock group for the First Annual HEMP AID Benefit.
        Date: Saturday, May 20th, 1995
        Contact: Theresa Yarbrough at (706)-235-3475
        Location: Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia
        Access: FREE (donations are requested)

Actor Tim Robbins Tells Playboy He Favors Marijuana Legalization

        In the February issue of Playboy magazine, actor Tim Robbins expounds, at length, on marijuana prohibition and some of its effects:
        Playboy: If they put you in charge of the war on drugs, what would you do?
        Robbins: Legalize Marijuana.
        Playboy: And then?
        Robbins: And then we would save an enormous amount of taxpayer money, specifically on the penal system, which is overloaded with marijuana abusers.  It's unbelievable.  When I did the Shawshank Redemption, every guard I talked with who had worked in a prison had this opinion: Legalize marijuana.  There's no reason these kids should be here....
        Marijuana is just like any other thing that might not be good for you.  If you do too much of it, it can screw up your life.  But it [marijuana -- ed.] can't screw up your life like cocaine or heroin or downs or ups or LSD.
        Playboy: Is this an admission that you still smoke pot -- or was that just a phase you went through as a kid?
        Robbins: I take the Fifth.  Considering the fact that it's still illegal ... put it this way: Considering the fact that I've used it in the past, and know what it is, and seen the results of it, I don't view it as a dangerous drug....
        But I don't want to advocate anything like [smoking pot] in print, because it's a different thing for different people....
        Playboy: So what would you say if your kids came to you one day and said: "Dad, did you ever take drugs in the Sixties and Seventies?"
        Robbins: I would say, "No, it was the Eighties."  Yeah, I would be honest with them.  And I'd tell them exactly what each drug does to you.
        Playboy: You realize that, having admitted these things now, you've just disqualified yourself from being a Supreme Court justice or the attorney general.
        Robbins: Well, I didn't say I inhaled.

Police Respond To Arson Report -- Find DARE Graduate Burning Mother's Marijuana

        December 15, Longmont, Colorado, The Associated Press (AP) reported that "Police responding to reports of an arson attempt found an 11-year old boy who told police he was burning his mother's drugs."
        AP went on to report that "The boy told an officer he had been through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, and when he found the suspected marijuana he became scared and decided to burn it...
        The mother told police she had been storing the drug for a friend for the past eight years, the report stated."
        AP reported that no charges were filed in the case and that the family's been referred to Social Services for follow-up visits.