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

September 21, 1995

California Legislature "Just Says No" To Unpopular Marijuana Law

        September 15, 1995, Sacramento, CA:  California Governor and possible Presidential nominee Pete Wilson suffered a major defeat when the Republican controlled California Assembly rejected his last ditch effort to renew the state's "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" law.  The controversial legislation requires that the state impose a six-month drivers license suspension upon conviction of any drug offense, regardless of whether the offense is driving related.  The law will expire on the 2nd of December.
        Looming heavy over the head of the California Assembly's decision to dissolve the "Smoke a Joint" legislation is the issue of federal mandates.  Because Wilson initially pushed for the license suspension law by co-sponsoring a 1990 federal mandate requiring the state to either enact the legislation or pass an "opt-out" resolution explicitly rejecting the policy, California now stands at risk of losing nearly $100 million in federal highway aid.  Ironically, in recent years, Wilson has been an outspoken proponent against the legitimacy of federal mandates.
        For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.

Meanwhile, Governor Pete Wilson Expects To Veto Medical Marijuana Bill
For Third Consecutive Year

        September 12, 1995, Sacramento, CA:  For the third time in as many years, the California State Assembly has voted in favor of a bill that would allow for the medical use of marijuana by the sick and terminally ill.  However, sources close to the governor claim that Wilson will once again veto the proposed legislation.
        The bill, AB 1529, would provide for the controlled compassionate use of marijuana for those individuals diagnosed by a physician to be suffering from the diseases of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.  In addition, this revised version of the bill is worded in such a way so that it expressly avoids conflicting with current federal policies prohibiting use of the drug.  (Wilson cited these policies as the basis for last year's veto.)  Despite the revision, however, a spokesman for Wilson told the San Diego Union Tribune that the governor "hates" the bill.  AB 1529 is supported by both the California Nurses Association and the California Senior Legislature.
        In response to claims that Wilson will veto the measure, the bill's author, Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), has blasted the governor as being more concerned with politics than with human suffering.  "In a free society, people who are ill shouldn't be made criminals to alleviate their pain," said Vasconcellos.  "Wilson is engaging in politics of pain.  That's pathetic."
        For more information on bill AB 1529, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or contact Dennis Peron of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (415) 864-1961.  In the coming months, the CCU intends to collect the 600,000 signatures necessary to place this measure on the 1996 statewide ballot.  This initiative is set to be filed with the Attorney General's Office for title and summary on Friday, September 29.

New York Times Runs Feature On Todd McCormick Bust

        September 17, 1995, Bryan, 0H:  The New York Times featured a major story on the case of medical marijuana user Todd McCormick in the national edition of this week's Sunday paper.  The Times is the second nationally syndicated paper to publicize McCormick's legal battle since his arrest on July 18.  USA Today referred to McCormick in an August 21 editorial supporting the use of medicinal marijuana.
        McCormick was arrested this past July when Ohio State Patrolmen discovered in excess of thirty pounds of marijuana in his van.  He is currently free on bail and staying with Don Wirtshafter at the Ohio Hempery since having his bail dropped at a September 7 bail reduction bearing.  McCormick maintains that the cannabis found in his vehicle, 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.
        When asked to comment on the McCormick case, John A. Mutter, president of the 3000 member American Judge's Association, told the New York Times that: "It strikes me as being incongruous that a doctor can prescribe for the well being of his patients narcotic drugs like morphine that are habit forming, but they can't prescribe marijuana."
        For more information on Todd McCormick, please contact either NORML or 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' Guide To Marijuana Laws.  The report is available for $2.00.

Update: Richard Martinez Set Free!

        September 18, 1995, Tucson, AZ:  The plight of medical marijuana user Richard Martinez looks to have finally come to an end.  Martinez was released from jail at 12 pm on September 18 and the charges against him have been dismissed under rule 11 for incompetence.  Martinez suffered for over four months in Arizona jails while the state conducted tests to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial.  He was shot through the right eye in 1991 and now has brain damage.  Martinez was charged with drug possession when local authorities discovered that he was using marijuana in place of his prescribed medication, Marinol.
        Martinez is once again being tended to by his neuro-rehabilitation nurse and legal guardian, Connie Theis.
        For more information about Richard Martinez and/or the formation of Tucson NORML, please contact Connie Theis @ (602) 790-1595.

NIDA To Hold International Drug Abuse Conference In Texas

        September 14, 1995, Houston, TX:  In accordance with its recent anti-marijuana campaign, NIDA will be holding a special session on marijuana's supposed effects on the brain as part of an international drug abuse conference taking place in Houston, TX on September 22 and 23.  The workshops will touch on such subjects as marijuana's possible cognitive and behavioral effects and will features such speakers as Dr. Merle G. Paule of the National Center for Toxicological Research and Dr. Billy R. Martin.  Dr. Martin recently surprised many when he announced that "average THC [potency] has not changed" in over a decade while speaking at NIDA's first ever Conference on Marijuana Use.
        Activists from Houston NORML are planning to attend the event.
        The two day conference will be held at the Sheraton Astrodome Hotel Heritage Center, in Houston Texas.