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

July 27, 1995

Marijuana Compassionate Use Club Founder Arrested On Route To Rhode Island

        July 18, 1995, Bryan, OH:  Longtime activist and medical marijuana user Todd McCormick was arrested and charged with two felony drug counts when Ohio State Highway Patrolmen discovered in excess of thirty pounds of marijuana in his van.  McCormick's passenger, Natalie Byrd, was also taken into custody and faces similar felony drug charges.  Both activists are currently being held at the Correction Center of Northwest Ohio where bail has been set, without bond, at $150,000 each. McCormick's preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place today.  Byrd's scheduled hearing has been postponed to take place at a later date.  McCormick, age 25, is the founder of the San Diego Compassionate Use Club.  The San Diego Club is one of approximately thirty Cannabis Buyers Clubs located across the country.  The purpose of the Clubs, many of which have recently received favorable media coverage and have been grudgingly tolerated by local law enforcement, is to supply cannabis to seriously ill patients based upon a doctor's recommendation.  Typically, these patients are suffering from the effects of AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), glaucoma, and spinal disorders.  McCormick maintains that the marijuana found in his van was intended to be used to establish a Compassionate Use Club in his home state of Rhode Island.  He told police that it was not for sale.  All of the cannabis dispensed at McCormick's San Diego Club was donated and was available to patients on a "no charge" basis.  The 30+ pounds of cannabis was visibly labeled "for medical use."  Based on the evidence seized during McCormick's arrest in Ohio on the 18th, DEA agents subsequently raided his Rolando, California house three days later.  None of the four residents staying at the house at the time of the raid were arrested; however, a small quantity of marijuana was found.  Also confiscated by federal agents were videotapes, books on the subject of legalizing marijuana, various computer disks, film, and smoking paraphernalia.  In addition, numerous petition signatures calling for a California marijuana legalization initiative were also seized, but have since been returned.  All four residents have said that they are committed to making marijuana medically available to chronically ill patients.  Although the significant amount of marijuana present and the rural venue do not make McCormick's case ideal for a medical necessity defense, he feels that a number of Fourth Amendment violations make his case winnable.  Most importantly, McCormick contends that law enforcement officials searched his vehicle without his consent or a warrant.  McCormick maintains that one officer claimed to "smell pot," at which time McCormick voluntarily showed the trooper his prescription for medical cannabis.  At this point, his van was searched and the bundles of marijuana were found.  McCormick acquired his prescription from a doctor in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 
        Aside from being an activist on the front lines of the medical marijuana issue, McCormick is also a medical marijuana user.  McCormick has battled cancer on ten different occasions and first started smoking cannabis to alleviate the significant side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.  He now uses the therapeutic effects of the drug to combat acute nerve damage in his neck.  This damage came about when the first five vertebrae in his neck fused together as a result of the cancer and greatly limits McCormick's lateral head movement.  McCormick attributes the regular smoking of cannabis as the prime reason for the improvement in his condition and lateral head mobility.  He further maintains that the prescription he acquired in the Netherlands makes it legal for him to transport cannabis in all United Nations.  Recently, his prescription had enabled him to enter America through U.S. Customs in Colorado while carrying cannabis.  Those wishing to donate funds to Todd McCormick's defense can send their financial support to the following address: Don Wirtshafter Law Trust Account, P. O. Box 18, Guysville, Ohio 45735.

Public Outage Inspires Oklahoma Governor To Free Jimmy Montgomery

        At the same time one medical marijuana user is arrested, another is set free.  Jimmy Montgomery, who was re-sentenced on April 4 to serve ten years in prison for the possession of less than two ounces of pot was released today thanks to the hundreds of phone calls and letters from both concerned NORML members and the press.  Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating signed his release citing Montgomery's deteriorating health while in prison.