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

March 2, 1995

Sunday Los Angeles Times Front Page: S.F. Cannabis Buyers' Club

        February 26, The Los Angeles Times published a detailed article on the Cannabis Buyers' Club in San Francisco.  The following are selected excerpts;
        This is a different kind of drug store...dozens of people sit on rummage-sale couches and folding chairs, smoking high-grade marijuana.
        It is business as usual at the Cannabis Buyers' Club, a flourishing illegal marijuana market rooted in civil disobedience.  But this is a club no rational person would aspire to join.  Doing your shopping here means you are sick or dying.
        The underground pharmacy is part of a growing movement aimed at gaining sick people the right to use marijuana.  Across the country thousands of patients with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses defy the law daily to treat their ailments or ease their pain.
        In San Francisco, long known for its tolerance, authorities have chosen to ignore the law, saying that sick people who can benefit from the plant should be able to buy it.
        'I have no problem whatsoever with the use of marijuana for medical purposes," said [San Francisco] Mayor Frank Jordan, a former police chief.  "I am sensitive and compassionate to people who have legitimate needs.  We should bend the law and do what's right."  [Emphasis added -ed.]
        [In opposing the use of marijuana as medicine] Mike Heald, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman, said marijuana is strictly controlled because the public does not believe that smoking it is proper behavior.  [Mr. Heald is enveloped in the "myth of consensus" -ed.] He said marijuana, like alcohol and tobacco, is a "gateway" substance that leads to the use of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD -- a contention disputed by marijuana advocates.
        The club was founded in 1991, and more than 3,000 people bearing notes from their doctors have flocked to
        [Some that have claimed to have benefited from the club]
        * AIDS patient Jon Bush gained 30 pounds in the past six months [with the use of marijuana]
        * Hazel Rodgers, 75, volunteers her time at the club while at the same time using marijuana to treat her glaucoma.  Rodgers was referred to the club by [SF] county supervisor Angela Alioto.
        "I am an extremely strong advocate of medicinal marijuana," Alioto said, "I saw it work".  [Alioto's late husband used marijuana to treat the adverse reaction from his cancer chemotherapy treatments. -ed.]

California Assemblyman's Bill Could Relieve The Need For Cannabis Buyer's Club

        March 1, Sacramento, CA, California Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) is sponsoring a medical marijuana bill, AB 1597, which would exempt patients with a physician's recommendation from laws against personal possession and cultivation of marijuana.  The bill is similar to the medical marijuana initiative being proposed by Californians for Compassionate Use (CCU) for the 1996 ballot.

[For more information, contact either CCU at 415-864-1961 or California NORML at 415-563-5858.]

Iowa State Senators Urge Senator Harkin To Support Medical Marijuana Research

        February 21, Three prominent state senators from Iowa sent a letter to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) prodding him to pressure the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow a long delayed medical study of the therapeutic effects of marijuana on patients with AIDS.  [This letter is representative of the numerous letters that have been sent by elected state officials all over the U.S. to federal representatives and officials within the government.  To date, 36 states have passed legislation expressing their desire to see marijuana be made more readily available for patients coping with life and/or sense-threatening diseases or ailments.  The problem is a recalcitrant and unresponsive federal bureaucracy. -ed.] A selected excerpt of the IA state senators letter follows:
        "We are respectfully asking that you consider contacting Dr. Philip Lee, Asst. Sec. for HHS, and express your support for allowing the first research project concerning medical marijuana in over a decade.  Our only objective is to find out exactly how safe and effective marijuana is in treating glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and AIDS-related wasting syndrome, and cancer.  Many patients in Iowa, as well as the rest of the United States, are eagerly anticipating the results from Dr. Abrams' study [the long delayed study -ed.], and we ask that you encourage this to happen."

[For more information on the struggle for legal access to medicinal marijuana in Iowa, contact Iowa NORML's Carl Olsen at 515-288-5798.  For further information on the long delayed Abrams' study and a listing of federal representatives who are lobbying HHS to allow the study to proceed, contact MAPS' Rick Doblin at 704-358-0138.]

Liberty Lovers -- Beware The Ides Of March!

        [Excerpts from FIJA release] On March 15, wholesale florist Yvonne Regas of Sparks, NV will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Reno, on charges of (1) Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice; (2) Aiding and abetting Obstruction of Justice; and (3) Jury Tampering.
        Before deciding that such dastardly behavior deserves swift, sure punishment -- such as the three to six years in prison this could cost Ms. Regas, if convicted -- consider what she actually did: she and a few friends put brochures published by Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) under the wiper blades of cars parked near the courthouse, during the trial of her son and ex-husband, among others, on drug charges.  That's it.
        These brochures -- which have been distributed similarly by untold numbers of people at hundreds of court houses around the country over the past five years -- explain the rights, powers, and responsibilities of trial jurors.  Often, the brochures are handed to all who enter the court house.
        The point of the leafleting has been to advise jurors that they possess the power to judge the law itself, and not just "the facts", as most modern jury instruction insist.  "Jury nullification of law" means that "the governed -- if informed of their power as jurors -- can "just say no" to bad laws, and thereby check and balance the government.  [It is for this reason that NORML supports the efforts of FIJA. Just imagine if every juror in a marijuana-related case knew that they possess the power and authority to nullify "bad law".  Is it possible that there would be a marked reduction in criminal convictions for marijuana-related "crimes"?  Further, would the government then realize that they've been operating under the `myth of consensus' and substantively amend the law? -ed.]
        The Regas case has attracted some of the nation's premier constitutional lawyers: Dr. Nancy Lord, Larry Becraft, and (possibly) Jonathan Emord.  They see this as a watershed case for both the First and Sixth Amendments, and believe that conviction of Ms. Regas could result in erosion of the rest of the Bill of Rights.
        If Regas is convicted, Nancy Lord fears it could also lead to prosecutions [and certainly intimidation -ed.] of FIJA activists around the country.

[To find out more about the Regas case, contact LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY, c/o Nancy Lord, 1718 Peachtree St. NW, ste. 499, Atlanta, GA 30309 or call 404-963-6932.  For further information on FIJA, contact Larry Dodge at 214-357-0902.]