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

March 23, 1995

Alcohol Industry Association Hires Former Head Of Drug Enforcement Administration

        John C. Lawn, the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been appointed as Chairman and CEO of the "Century Council," which is described in the March/April issue of Healthy Drinking magazine as being "the most prominent of the hundreds of programs supported by the licensed beverage industry."
        The appointment is seen as an extension of the efforts of the alcohol industry to separate itself from the illegal drugs.  Healthy Drinking, supported by the alcohol industry, hails the appointment, "anxiously" hoping that Lawn's connections in the prohibitionist propaganda industry will help de-couple alcohol from other drugs in prohibitionist propaganda.
        The magazine wrongly states that the DEA has "scrupulously avoided confusing use with abuse and drinking with drugging, a stance which seems beyond the ken of other federal agencies like Health and Human Services."  The alcohol industry seems unaware that the DEA is now claiming that alcohol prohibition was a success.  For example, an official 1994 DEA publication, "How to Hold Your Own in A Drug Legalization Debate" (page 29) cites two prohibitionists who claim that alcohol prohibition worked because it reduced alcohol consumption.  The Michigan Drug Czar Robert Peterson is quoted as saying that "Since the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol consumption has tripled."  This sort of statement is common in prohibitionist propaganda.  Much of the hard core constituency of drug prohibition also supports alcohol prohibition -- but they generally keep it low key.
        Meanwhile, the magazine approvingly quotes Lawn using a standard DEA line: "Illicit drugs .... are illegal because they are dangerous."  Does this indicate that the alcohol industry is betting its future on the assertion that alcohol is not "dangerous" by the standards of a government that is waging a war on marijuana, which by every objective measure is far less dangerous than alcohol?
        Richard Cowan, the National Director of NORML, said that "the appointment of Lawn is not only cynical and hypocritical, but also very misguided.  The alcohol industry is not going to protect itself from the prohibitionists by pretending that alcohol isn't a drug.  Lawn may well be able to marginally influence some of the prohibitionist propaganda or legislation passed by alcohol using (and abusing) legislators, but this is more likely to lull the alcohol industry into unwarranted complacency rather than to protect them.
        The alcohol and tobacco industries need to learn that their best protection from the therapeutic state is to tell the truth about freedom and stop trying to pretend that their products aren't 'drugs.'  Further, does the alcohol industry really want to declare war on its natural allies in the anti-prohibitionist movement in order to appease the prohibitionists who have them next on their lists?  Who is advising the alcohol industry on this, the ghost of Neville Chamberlin?  Or perhaps the ghost of Harry Anslinger?"

For more information on the alcohol industry contact Healthy Drinking at 206-525-0449.  For more information of a comparison of alcohol and marijuana contact Allen St. Pierre at NORML 202-483-5500.

Special Announcement: ABC News Special To Focus On The 'War on Drugs'

        ABC News will air a special program, "America's War On Drugs: Searching For Solutions", on Thursday, April 6, 1995, 10:00 - 11:00 PM, ET.
        In a one-hour news special, ABC News correspondent Catherine Crier [a former Felony Chief Prosecutor and a State Civil District Judge, 162nd District-Dallas County, TX -ed.] examines some controversial alternatives to the 'War on Drugs' model: the decriminalization or legalization of some drugs, and "harm reduction" -- the treatment of addicts with drugs and therapy rather than incarceration.
        The hour takes Crier to cities around the country, and to Europe, where tactics that to many appear risky and dangerous are currently employed.  Should and could they be successfully used here?  Experts -- and addicts -- offer their thoughts.

Federal Execution Delayed For Convicted Marijuana "Kingpin"

        March 22, The Washington Times reported that in Birmingham, Alabama, "A judge yesterday blocked the execution of a drug kingpin nine days before he was to become the first person put to death by the U.S. government since 1963.
        Defense attorney Natasha Zalkins said new and "very sensitive" evidence had come to light that proved David Ronald Chandler's innocence.  U.S. District Judge James H. Hancock ruled additional time was needed to consider the evidence.
        Chandler, 42,...had been scheduled to die by injection March 30 at the federal prison in Terre Haute, IN.

Nearly Fifty Percent Of Coloradans Approve Of Hemp Cultivation

        March 20, The Denver Post ran a telephone poll of Colorado residents in which they asked numerous political questions.  One of which was:
        [Should Colorado] allow the growing of industrial grade hemp, that is, plants that have virtually no intoxication value?


Brazil May Decriminalize Personal Use Of Marijuana!

        March 19, The Associated Press (AP) reports that "From the Amazon jungle to Ipanema beach, marijuana is part of a daily routine for many Brazilians. Routine, but illegal.
        Now, for the first time, the country is seriously discussing a proposal to end jail time and fines for the use and possession of the drug.
        AP reports that Congress is scheduled to vote on decriminalization by July.  Attorney General Nelson Jobim is lobbying for the bill.  "It's absurd," to put users in jail Jobim said in an interview.
        Under current law, marijuana users can be sentenced to 2 to 3 years in prison for possessing as little as 20 grams of marijuana.
        According to AP, three South American nations -- Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela -- already have systems similar to the one proposed by Jobim, while the possession of small amounts of marijuana is completely legal in Columbia and Peru.
        [Decriminalization] has even been endorsed by Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, the conservative Roman Catholic archbishop of Salvador and primate of Brazil.
        AP reports that for many Brazilians, the government is simply recognizing a practice that is too widespread to be suppressed [When will the U.S. government acknowledge this? -ed.].

        [On March 23, NORML's National Director Richard Cowan and staff met with Brazilian Judge Marco Da Silva, Advisor to the President of the Sao Paulo State Supreme Court, on the matter of marijuana decriminalization.  NORML will endorse the attempts in Brazil to decriminalize marijuana and demonstrate, to the judge and his contingent, the success' of marijuana decriminalization in eleven states in America and especially in The Netherlands.]