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

June 15, 1995

NORML National Director To Address Major London Human Rights Convention

        June 17, London, U.K.:  The continued imprisonment of Oklahoma paraplegic Jimmy Montgomery will be addressed by Richard Cowan at a three day Human Rights Convention to be held in London from June 15 to 17.  The Convention, billed as "A Festival of Rights," is being sponsored by Liberty, a London based human rights organization.  It is expected that more than 3,000 people from around the world will attend the conference.  This will be the First time that the excesses of America's war on marijuana users will be recognized as a violation of human rights comparable to other forms of political persecution.
        "I hope that the international media and human rights community will focus on the rising tide of violence and hatred being inflicted on American cannabis users, which is being ignored by the American media," said Cowan.  He added, "having the persecution of cannabis users recognized at this convention is a historic breakthrough in NORML's efforts to get the world to count the cost of cannabis prohibition."
        There will be more than 100 speakers at the convention, including Pierre Sané, the Secretary General of Amnesty International; Kader Asmal, a Minister in the South African government; and Lord Lester, QC.

Oregon Senate Kills Marijuana Recriminalization Bill

        June 12, Salem, Oregon:  The Oregon Senate killed an effort to recriminalize marijuana possession due, in part, to the lack of support from key Republican Senators and from effective last-minute lobbying by concerned Oregonians (especially cannabis re legalization activists!).

Massachusetts House Passes An Affirmative Medical Marijuana Defense

        June 13, Boston, MA:  The Massachusetts House passed an affirmative legal defense bill for individuals possessing cannabis who have a legitimate and documented medical need.  Mass CANN/NORML tirelessly worked to get the bill passed.  Lester Grinspoon, M.D., who chairs NORML's Board of Directors, testified in support of the bill.  The bill (#2170) is short and succinct:
        "It shall be a prima facie defense to a charge of possession of marihuana (sic) under this section that (1) the defendant is a patient certified to participate in a therapeutic research program described in..., or (2) the defendant, without medical use of marihuana, (i) would be faced with a clear and imminent danger, (ii) could reasonably expect that his use of marihuana would be effective in abating the danger, and (iii) there is no legally available alternative which would be equally effective in abating the danger.
        The bill now moves on to the State Senate for consideration.
        [For more information on Mass. HB 2170, please contact Mass CANN/NORML's Steve Epstein, Esq., (617) 599-3161 or NORML Board Member Richard Evans, Esq., (413) 586-1348.]

California Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill
Senate Ratification Expected!

        June 13, Sacramento, CA:  In a 6 to 1 bipartisan vote, the Criminal Procedure Committee of the State Senate passed AB 1529 which will effectively decriminalize the possession or cultivation of medical marijuana for individuals being treated for cancer, AIDS, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis in the State of California.  The bill has enjoyed editorial support from six major daily newspapers as well as patients and the medical community.
        [For more information on AB 1529 please contact Californians for Compassionate Use, Dennis Peron, (415) 864-1961 or California NORML, Dale Gieringer, (415) 563-5858.]

Dutch Police Chiefs Agree: Continue To Separate Cannabis From "Hard" Drugs!

        June 10, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:  A major daily newspaper reports that the Dutch chiefs of police unanimously advise the Dutch government to make every possible effort to promote the further decriminalization of "soft" drugs [cannabis products---ed.] internationally.
        According to De Telegraaf, Dutch policy makers have agreed to postpone plans to overhaul Holland's drug policies until September.  In the mean time, all main political parties (government and opposition) have all agreed to maintain the following policies:
        1.) The "classic element" of Dutch drug policy, separating the "hard" and "soft" markets, has to remain intact because of its evident success.
        2.) The "soft" drug market now desperately needs further regulation.
        3.) Legalization of "hard" drugs is not on the agenda.  (Though, experiments with medical supply of narcotics to problematic addicts in maintenance programs are.---ed.]

More News From The Netherlands: Univ. Of Amsterdam Study Concludes That "Tolerant" Cannabis Laws Do Not Lead To More Use

        June 10, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:  Contrary to what many people assume about the citizens of Amsterdam, where the sale of cannabis in coffeeshops is allowed, the majority of the population does not indulge in cannabis or hashish.
        The Department of Social Geography of the Univ. of Amsterdam has monitored the cannabis use of the Amsterdam population (ages 12 years-old and up) since 1987 by means of three large scale household surveys.  According to researcher Dr. Peter Cohen, observing the period 1987-1994, the average age for first time cannabis use in The Netherlands is a remarkably high twenty years of age [as compared to 14 years-old in the U.S.---ed.]!  The research also indicates that despite the high numbers of "coffeeshops" in The Netherlands, only 25% of the population have ever used cannabis.  In addition, only 6% admit to using it daily.
        From these extensive surveys, Dr. Cohen has been able to develop a profile of the "average" cannabis consumer: well educated, single, outgoing, around thirty years-old, and of Dutch descent.

Prosecutors' Choice: Jail Or Taxes For Drug Offenders

        June 9, Houston, TX:  The Houston Chronicle reports:
        An appellate court ruled...that prosecutors must choose which they want more: a drug dealer's [users---ed.] back taxes or their time in jail.
        The 14th Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether Mark Stennett was punished sufficiently when, after his indictment for marijuana possession, he was billed $49,070 by the State Comptrollers Office.  Since January 1990, the office has been allowed to pursue such taxes known as the Texas Controlled Substances Tax.  It sells tax stamps to be purchased when a person obtains contraband.
        Citing a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding Montana's tax stamp, the court decided that since Stennett was paying the tax, pursuing criminal punishment would constitute double jeopardy.  Defense attorneys have long made such a claim.  "Anybody who has a drug case and also got hit with a drug tax is entitled to have their case dismissed," said one of Stennett's attorneys, Tom Moran, "Any lawyer worth his salt, when they hear about this case, will file (the proper paperwork) to get the case dismissed."  It could mean hundreds of cases could be dismissed.

Quayle Accuser's Case Due Another Hearing

        June 13, USA Today reports:
        "Brett Kimberlin, who claims prison officials conspired to keep him from telling how he once sold marijuana to Dan Quayle before he became vice-president, may get another day in court.  ... the U.S. Supreme Court ... ordered a lower court to reconsider Kimberlin's suit.  He says prison officials in Oklahoma, working on orders from the chief of the Bureau of Prisons, put him in solitary confinement just before the 1988 elections.
        Prison officials, after consulting with a Justice Department spokesman and officials from the Bush-Quayle campaign, placed Kimberlin in solitary confinement after learning he planned to hold a news conference to claim he sold marijuana to Quayle in 1971."

Counting Down:  The 10 millionth marijuana arrest will take place in July. Don't let it be YOU!