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

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

September 7, 1995

Jury Rules That Hemp Seed Demonstration Is A Protest, Not Cultivation

        August 24, 1995, Madera, CA:  A jury has acquitted three marijuana activists who challenged authorities to prosecute them for publicly planting 20,000 hemp seeds in me Sierra foothills.  Hemp proponents Ron Kiczenski, Doug Weissman, and Craig Steffens were all found not guilty of felony cultivation.  The trio, collectively known as the Three Hawk Stand, were arrested by sheriffs deputies following a July 4 public protest during which the defendants planted hemp seeds in front of both media and local authorities.  Had they been found guilty, the three activists each faced up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
        The men were found innocent in spite of the court's efforts to disallow the defense from presenting evidence that hemp can be utilized as an industrial crop and that the defendants' action was done strictly as a political protest.  Earlier in the trial, Judge John W. DeGroot had ruled that the only relevant issue in the trial was whether or not the trio planted an illegal crop.  "Being a protest is not a defense to the [cultivation] charge," he said.
        Ironically, Kiczenski believes that the Court's hardline approach may have actually helped Three Hawk Stand's defense.  "The prosecutor and the judge worked too hard," said Steffens' attorney, Nancy Lord.  "The jury thought the whole thing was rigged."  The defendants were successful in arguing that the seeds they had planted were legally sterilized hemp seeds which were incapable of producing actual marijuana.
        In addition to reaching the three not guilty verdicts, the jury also presented a prepared statement to the court regarding the reasons behind and the potential impact of their decision.  Jury foreman Dean Mitchell read the following: "Some jurors agree with the cause in which you believe; some jurors are totally opposed.  Our verdict went outside of your cause.  The evidence left reasonable doubt in our minds.  Our admonishment to you three defendants is that we are not sending you on a seed planting mission, but rather we suggest you pursue your cause through alternative methods."
        Now that he's been acquitted, Kiczenski maintains that he will do just that.  Kiczenski plans to file a civil lawsuit challenging the DEA's assumed control and jurisdiction over the production of hemp.
        Kiczenski has received media attention in the past by mailing marijuana to President Bill Clinton.  He is a former High Times "Freedom Fighter of the Month."

Update: Cannabis Patient Continues To Be Denied Prescription
Allegations of Civil Rights Abuses Prompt NORML Lawyers To Take Action

        September 2, 1995, Bryan, OH:  Recent events have discouraged hopes that medical cannabis user Todd McCormick will be legally permitted to use his prescribed medicine -- marijuana -- while in jail.  According to McCormick, Judge Anthony Gretich is now requiring that an American physician who has physically examined McCormick must additionally submit a written statement supporting his prescription for cannabis.  McCormick must also secure a local Ohio doctor to oversee the administration of his prescription.
        McCormick already has letters from three prominent American doctors (NORML Board Chairman Lester Grinspoon M.D., NORML Board member John Morgan, M.D., and Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D.) supporting his prescription.  Inexplicably however, although McCormick received these supportive statements on August 18, he maintains that his public defender, John Schaffer, failed to file any motions on his client's behalf until September 1.  McCormick had initially believed that the Court needed written support from only one physician.
        Even more alarming were recent reports of civil and constitutional rights violations taking place against McCormick.  Following McCormick's live-from-prison telephone interview with a local Ohio radio station, Warden Jim Dennis reportedly forbade McCormick any further press contact.  He was also denied access to phone calls and visitors.  In response to these allegations, Cleveland attorneys Gordon S. Friedman and Terry H. Gilbert of NORML's Legal Committee faxed a letter on September 1 to Warden Dennis informing him that they bad been requested to investigate the abuse charges.  As a result of their letter, the Todd McCormick Alliance reports that the warden has renewed McCormick's phone privileges and is once again permitting him to speak to the media.  The warden is also allowing McCormick to use muscle relaxers to help alleviate the pain and limited lateral head movement he suffers as a result of acute nerve damage in his neck.
        McCormick is presently awaiting trial on four felony drug charges following the discovery of 31 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle by Ohio State Highway Patrolmen.  McCormick maintains that the cannabis, which was clearly marked "for medicinal use only," was intended to be used to establish a Compassionate Use Club in Rhode Island and was not meant for sale.  McCormick had previously founded a Compassionate Use Club in San Diego.
        A hearing to determine whether or not McCormick's $50,000 bail should be lowered will be held on September 7, 1995.
        For additional information on Todd McCormick's case, please contact the Todd McCormick Alliance @ (619) 582-7303.  Those wishing to donate funds to McCormick's legal defense can send their financial support to the following address: Don Wirtshafter Law Trust Account, P.O. Box 18, Guysville, Ohio 45735.  NORML may also be contacted for more information.

U.S. Court Of Appeals Reverses Czuprynski Conviction

        September 1, Bay City, MI:  Ed Czuprynski, the Bay City attorney who in 1992 was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for possessing 1.6 grams of marijuana, has had his conviction reversed by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.  Concluding that Federal Judge Robert Cleland "abused [his] discretion" in his evidentiary rulings during Czuprynski's trial, the higher court determined that the prosecution lacked sufficient relevant evidence to show that Czuprynski knowingly possessed marijuana.  Czuprynski had maintained throughout both his trial and conviction that the marijuana found in his office had been planted and that his prosecution was political.
        In a written statement affirming the higher court's decision to reverse, two of the judges admit that "the [Czuprynski] case...has occupied untold judicial resources."  The document also specifies that the amount of marijuana involved in the case was "minute" and "meager."  Federal sentencing guidelines for minor amounts of marijuana do not recommend that a prison sentence should exceed more than 6 months.
        Czuprynski's September 1 victory is actually the second time that his conviction has been reversed.  Czuprynski first won a reversal of his possession conviction in November of 1993, but the conviction was later upheld following the government's appeal.  Czuprynski said that he would not be surprised if the government chose to appeal this latest decision as well.
        For more information, please contact Ed Czuprynski @ (517) 894-1155.  A copy of the 7 page Order by the Court of Appeals is available upon request.

Prisoner To Be Force-Fed Intravenously
Despite Availability Of Prescription Alternative

        September 7, 1995, Fort Worth, TX:  Despite the fact that Alan McLemore has a doctor's prescription for Marinol, jail officials continue to deny him access to the medication because it is a schedule II narcotic.  McLemore maintains that he has no appetite without daily use of the drug and has not eaten a meal in the past 34 days.  McLemore had previously been allowed to use Marinol while he was incarcerated at the Jefferson County jail in Beaumont, Texas.  He had maintained a stable body weight of approximately 160 pounds during that time.
        In addition, McLemore's wife, Maggie Carter-McLemore, reports that her husband is now undergoing an isolated 72-hour "observation period."  Following this period, McLemore is to begin intravenous force-feeding.  Ms. Carter-McLemore maintains that the law permits force-feeding only as a last resort and believes that Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution authorities are in violation of the law by not granting her husband the prior option of using Marinol.  In a recent audio-taped phone conversation with his wife, McLemore stated: "They may kill me in here.  I'm worried about it."
        In the past, McLemore had used both marijuana and Marinol to provide relief from chronic migraines, depression, weight loss, and alcoholic tendencies.
        For more information on Alan McLemore, please contact Judy McLemore @ (409) 423-2429 or contact Ralph Hodges @ Houston NORML @ (713) 797-6567 or (713) 797-6759 (fax).  McLemore can be contacted directly at the following address: Alan D. McLemore #05204-078, Ft. Worth FCI, 3150 Horton Road, Ft. Worth, TX 76119.