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

September 14, 1995

Latest National Household Survey Results Sound Marijuana Alarm (Again)

        September 12, Washington, DC:  Speaking at a formal press conference, both Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Drug Czar Lee Brown took time out to once again urge Americans to denounce the use of marijuana.  "Marijuana use is illegal, dangerous, unhealthy, and wrong," Shalala reaffirmed.
        Armed with preliminary estimates from the 1994 National Survey on Drug Abuse, the duo remarked that while overall illicit drug use (defined as once in the past month) among the population as a whole rose only marginally in the past year, the number of teenagers using marijuana has nearly doubled since 1992.  "Anyone who thinks we've licked the drug problem in this country is living in a fantasy land," the Secretary remarked at the press conference.
        According to the study's preliminary findings, teens using marijuana at least once a month rose from 4% in 1992 to 7.3% in 1994.  Shalala called the findings "a wake-up call for America."
        Put in historical context, however, the latest adolescent use statistics still remain far below the peak reached in 1980.  According to annual studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of high school seniors ever having admitted to experimenting with marijuana dropped significantly from 50.9 percent in 1980 to 38.2 percent in 1994.  Although neither Brown nor Shalala mentioned this data during the conference, the Office of National Drug Control Policy did specify that even with the recent increase in the number of teenagers admitting to having used marijuana regularly, current adolescent rates of marijuana use still rank well below what they were fifteen years ago.
        Brown speculated that the latest increase in teen marijuana consumption might be due to pot's glamorization by the entertainment industry.
        For more information on the 1994 Household Survey preliminary estimates, please contact NORML.  Copies of the survey are currently available on the Internet at: or from SAMSHA, Office of Applied Studies, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 16C-06, Rockville, MD 20857.  SAMSHA also has transcripts of Shalala's speech available upon request.

Update: Todd McCormick Free On Bail!

        September 7, 1995, Bryan, OH:  At a September 7 bail reduction hearing, medical marijuana user and San Diego Compassionate Use Club founder Todd McCormick had his bail dropped from $50,000 to $2,000.  He posted bail at approximately 4:55 p.m. the following day and is currently staying with Don Wirtshafter at the Ohio Hempery in Guysville.
        McCormick was arrested on July 18 when Ohio State Patrolmen discovered in excess of thirty pounds of marijuana in his van.  McCormick maintains that the cannabis, all of which was visibly 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.  He is charged with four felony drug counts.
        For more information on Todd McCormick, please contact the Todd McCormick Alliance @ (619) 582-7303 or (619) 582-7330 (fax).

Meanwhile, Landmark State Decision Could Spell Victory
For McCormick's Upcoming Trial

        September 10, 1995, Columbus, OH:  Civil liberty and personal privacy proponents achieved a major victory last week when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled to severely limit the rights of police to question citizens or search their property after misdemeanor roadside traffic stops.  Northcoast NORML President John Hartman applauded the court's ruling.  "People in the cannabis community will be driving a little easier [now] in the state of Ohio," he said.
        In a 4-3 decision, the court struck down the drug arrest of a man whose car was searched following a routine traffic stop.  The court maintained that the evidence seized during the search was invalid because the search itself was in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  According to the AP, "The court said that although the driver gave his consent, the search was improper because the deputy never told the driver [that] he was free to go after the traffic stop and before the drug search began."  The law states that police cannot automatically search a car based upon a traffic misdemeanor.
        Defense attorney Harry R. Reinhart praised the ruling.  He explained that hundreds of innocent Ohio motorists are stopped each year by police and intimidated into having their automobiles searched because law enforcement officials purposely neglect to inform citizens of their legal right to say no.
        One can only wait and see what potential ramifications this decision may have on Todd McCormick's upcoming trial.  McCormick had his van searched after Ohio State Patrolmen pulled him over "because the curtains in [his] van were closed."  McCormick maintains that he did not give police permission to search his vehicle.
        For more information on the Ohio State Supreme Court ruling, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML @ (216) 521-WEED, or William Saks of the Cleveland ACLU @ (216) 781-6277.  For more information on your legal rights as a motorist please contact NORML to acquire a copy of NORML's Citizens' Guides To Marijuana Laws.  The report is available for $2.00.

Distinguished Chicago Judge Advocates Marijuana Legalization

        September 14, 1995, Chicago, IL:  Richard Posner, Chicago's chief federal appeals judge and one of America's most prominent legal scholars, recommends that marijuana use should be legalized as a way of reducing crime and unclogging the courts.  Posner, a Reagan administration appointee once heralded by American Lawyer magazine as "the most brilliant judge in the country," is the highest ranking judge to ever publicly advocate the repeal of marijuana laws.  His endorsement of marijuana reform was the focus of a feature article in both USA Today and The Times Literary Supplement, a British publication.
        In the USA Today article, Posner stated that: "It is nonsense that we should be devoting so many law enforcement resources to marijuana.  I am skeptical that a society that is so tolerant of alcohol and cigarettes should come down so hard on marijuana use and send people to prison for life without parole."  NORML's Senior Policy Advisor, Richard Cowan, was also quoted in the story.
        USA Today also ran an editorial endorsing the use of marijuana as a medicine last month.

Secret Service Threatens Couple For Stamping One Dollar Bills

        September 11, 1995, Woodstock, New York:  A couple who habitually brand their one dollar bills with a marijuana leaf and the quote: "I grew hemp," were recently contacted by Woodstock police acting on behalf of the Secret Service.  Joy Beckerman and James Horn, owners of the Heaven On Earth Hemp Store, report that the police came to them with Xerox copies of stamped dollar bills and a written warning from the secret service specifying that the practice of defacing United States currency was a federal crime.  Although Horn admits that the local officers were laid back about the whole issue, he claims that the notice stated that the U.S. Attorney General would be contacted and charges would be pressed if the couple didn't immediately stop the stamping.
        While Horn fully admits to stamping many of his dollar bills with the pro-hemp message, he is alarmed that the federal government seems to be targeting him alone.  Since Heaven On Earth sells the "I grew hemp" stampers, the couple argues that the government has no way of proving that the bills in question were defaced by them.
        Horn says that he will continue to both sell stampers and stamp some of his one dollar bills despite the warning.  The couple see their action as a way of informing the community of hemp's industrial uses and its historical background as an integral American crop.
        For more information, please contact either Joy Beckerman or James Horn of Heaven On Earth @ (914) 679-4990.