SUITE 1010
TEL 202-483-5500 * FAX 202-483-0057

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

February 2, 1995

European Parliament Commission Favors Legalization of Cannabis

        Recognizing the success of the Dutch policy of separating marijuana from hard drugs, The European Parliamentary Commission on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs voted Monday for "cannabis decriminalization."  The full European Parliament is expected to vote on this recommendation later in February.  Usually the parliament follows the recommendation of the relevant commissions, but the United States is expected to bring maximum pressure to prevent the replication of the Dutch success in separating cannabis from hard drugs.

(For more information contact the European Parliamentary Commission on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs in Brussels.)

Drug Czar and Partnership For A Drug-Free (sic) America
Hold a Closed -- by Invitation Only -- "Briefing"

        Washington -- At the last minute, it was decided that a "briefing" held this afternoon at the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House by Drug Czar Lee Brown and James Burke, Chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the former CEO of pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson, was "by invitation only."  This may have been done because of embarrassing questions having been asked at their New York press conference on January 16.  Consequently, the media were excluded from the Washington version.  This is unusual in Washington, where media attendance at such "briefings" is generally encouraged.
        At the New York meeting the Partnership announced a series of new radio and television and print ads which American media are now running as a part of their support for the continuing arrest of millions of Americans for using marijuana.  That briefing, like the ads, warned about the horrifying dangers of the marijuana crisis now sweeping America and causing terror in our streets, the main drug concern of both the White House and the Partnership.  The purpose of the briefings -- and the apparent reason for their being by invitation only -- seems to be the growing panic among prohibitionists about being asked critical questions.  The media have so seldom been critical of any claims about marijuana made by the Partnership or the Drug Czar's office that the prohibitionists have not yet developed a strategy for answering them.  Under the circumstances, it may have been decided not to risk having anyone present who might disrupt the meeting by asking questions.

(Please do not call either the Drug Czar's office at 202-395-6618 or especially the Partnership at 212-922-1560 and ask them any questions.  That sort of thing just upsets them.)

Maine Governor Ends Helicopter Marijuana Searches

        On February 1 the Associated Press reported that Maine Governor Angus King is discontinuing helicopter flights searching for marijuana growing in rural areas of Maine.  Governor King said the flights were "too expensive for the return.  I think it's intrusive."  The Maine Civil Liberties Union, which has represented four Maine families who objected to the invasion of their privacy by flights -- in which no marijuana was found -- hailed the Governor's action.
        The AP story reporting the Governor's action quoted an anonymous undercover agent as saying that an anonymous "marijuana trafficker" had told him that anonymous "local growers had increased their yield substantially in 1994 in response to a cessation in flights."  Presumably the AP was unable to find any anonymous supporters of privacy rights to quote anonymous victims of the overflights.
        NORML has published a special report on the role of the National Guard in domestic marijuana eradication including the extensive use of helicopters in both urban and rural areas.

(For copies of this NORML Report contact Allen St. Pierre at NORML -- 202-483-5500.  For more information on Governor King's decision to cancel helicopter overflights for marijuana cultivation contact Maine Civil Liberties Union Legal Counsel, Christopher Branson at 207-773-5651.)

Chief Coroner of Canadian Province of British Columbia Calls for Consideration of Legalizing Cannabis.

        The Vancouver Sun Times reported in a January 21 story that Vince Cain, the chief coroner of British Columbia, said that "the so-called war on drugs which is conducted by the criminal justice system can only be regarded as an expensive failure."  Cain went on to say that "Police officers have told me they're wasting their time on this social issue."  These comments came in a report entitled Illicit Narcotic Overdose Deaths in B.C. published by the British Columbia provincial government.
        Although it is impossible to overdose on marijuana, Cain used the report to urge that the provincial Attorney General consider legalizing the sale of marijuana.  The report was discussed further Tuesday at a meeting of provincial and federal law enforcement officials.  A senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police rejected the report saying, "we want a drug free society."  He then went on to say that the vast majority of Canadians have used alcohol and tobacco.

(Chief coroner Cain can be reached at 604-660-7737.  The B. C. Attorney General can be reached at 604-387-5008.)

Kentucky Governor Creates "Hemp Fiber Crop Task Force"

        Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones, reversing his previous position on hemp cultivation, has created a special task force to study the restoration of what once was one of Kentucky's most important legal crops.  (Illegal marijuana is currently the most valuable cash crop in Kentucky.)  In the late 19th century, Kentucky produced more than 90% of the nation's hemp, which is also the marijuana plant.  This action has long been urged by former NORML Board member and Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith.
        It is possible to grow varieties of hemp that have virtually no psychoactive ingredients.  It is generally recognized as one of the most versatile agricultural plants, and it is cultivated for non-drug purposes in China and most of Europe.  There is a strong demand for hemp fiber for clothing in America, but The Drug Enforcement Administration opposes its cultivation in the United States because it would send the wrong message: that American farmers have been kept from growing an agricultural staple as part of the propaganda campaign for marijuana prohibition.

(For more information on the Hemp Fiber Taskforce call Jim Claycomb at 502-564-2611)

At Last, an O. J. Simpson Marijuana Story (almost)

        On January 20, New York Newsday, in a cover story, reported that new NORML Board Member and 1993 Nobel Laureate, Dr. Kary Mullis, the inventor of DNA testing, has said that he would testify that he "wouldn't rely on the tiny blood samples collected as solid proof of anyone's guilt."  Now, if O. J. would just read Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine (Yale University Press) co-authored by NORML Board Chairman, Lester Grinspoon, M. D. of Harvard, perhaps the book would be reviewed and someone might report on the arrest of sick and dying Americans as a part of the suppression of medical access to cannabis.