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

October 19, 1995

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Rules
That Cancer Patient Should Be Allowed To Use Marijuana

        October 13, 1995, Tacoma, WA:  In a decision that may be a first for the nation, Superior Court Judge Rosanne Buckner has ruled that a cancer patient's need to use marijuana as medicine overrides the state's interest in outlawing its prescription.
        Defendant Ralph Seeley--a former journalist, lawyer, and cancer patient--accomplished what no one else has done in a quarter century of attempts.  Seeley filed a declaratory judgment action in Pierce County Superior Court, asking for a ruling that the State's Constitution's reliance on "fundamental principles" requires that marijuana be available as a prescription substance.  This past Friday, the Honorable Judge Buckner agreed.  A final order is being prepared.
        "I think, practically speaking, the effect [of this ruling] is to put prosecutions for medical marijuana use on hold," Seeley said.  During the court proceedings, Seeley's moving argument contained numerous references to his own experiences as a cancer patient, forced to choose between breaking the law or enduring unbearable suffering.  Seeley has undergone eight surgeries on his spine, two lung surgeries--including the removal of one lung--radiation, and several bouts of chemotherapy.  He faces another surgery next month.
        Jeffrey Steinborn, a Seattle lawyer who has represented a number of clients in medical marijuana cases, called the ruling significant.  "I think it's going to open the door to a new wave of attempts to make this a legitimate medicine," commented Steinborn, who is a friend of Seeley's.  "There's a crack in the door now, a crack in the shell and I think it's going to spread."
        "It is monstrous to say [that] this substance cannot be used as a medicine by people who are dying," Steinborn concluded.  "I challenge any federal official to come and debate the wisdom of this."
        For more information on Honorable Judge Buckner's ruling, please contact Ralph Seeley @ (206) 383-3434 or Jeff Steinborn @ (202) 622-5117.  For more information on the medical uses of marijuana, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

(As Expected) Governor Wilson Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill
Californians For Compassionate Use Band Together To File Medical Marijuana Initiative

        October 16, 1995, Sacramento CA:  California Governor Pete Wilson vetoed a bill (A.B. 1529) by Assemblyman John Vasconcellos to allow for the prescribed medical use of marijuana by the sick and terminally ill.  The legislation would have provided 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.  This is the third consecutive time that Wilson has vetoed a medical marijuana proposal.
        In reaction to Wilson's veto, a coalition of AIDS activists, cancer survivors, seniors, nurses, and medical experts have filed a medical marijuana initiative with the California Attorney General's Office.  Marijuana activist and head of Californians for Compassionate Use, Dennis Peron, will be directing the initiative drive.
        The initiative maintains that any patients who possess a valid doctor's recommendation should be allowed to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent without fear or risk of prosecution.  The initiative also allows citizens to cultivate their own marijuana for personal use and encourages state and federal governments to establish a program that will provide for a safe and affordable method of distribution.  This coalition has 150 days to collect 600,000 signatures.
        "Using patients as pawns is not right," declared Anna Boyce, RN, in response to the governor's action.  Boyce is president of the petition drive as well as an elected member of the California Senior Legislature.  "Marijuana helps people who are suffering; it is being denied to them for purely political reasons and that must change."
        For more information on the California medical marijuana initiative, please contact Dennis Peron of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (415) 621-3986.

HEMPILATION CD Draws National Attention On CNN

        September 13, 1993, New York City, NY:  Showbiz Today, a regular half hour program on CNN, featured a segment on the growing controversy surrounding the release of HEMPILATION: Freedom Is NORML.  HEMPILATION is the first ever major release devoted solely to the "wonders of weed."
        The approximately two minute news segment featured positive comments from NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre as well as musicians Ian Moore and B-Real of Cypress Hill.  Both Moore and Cypress Hill are featured on the CD.
        The CNN piece also featured criticism from David Chamberlain of the Washington DC-based Family Research Council.  Stating that be hoped that Capricorn Records would abandon the project, Chamberlain commented that he felt the CD would encourage teenagers to try marijuana.
        A portion of the profits of the CD go directly to benefit the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.  HEMPILATION: Freedom Is NORML hit record stores across the nation on September 26.

Meanwhile, Drug Czar Lee Brown Is Not Amused

        October 19,1995, Washington, DC:  The Washington Post recently reported that Drug Czar Lee Brown is steaming over the release of HEMPILATION: Freedom Is NORML.  The Post quoted Brown as stating that song titles appearing on the CD such as "I Wanna Get High" and "Who's Got the Herb" were "enough to make one sick."  Brown is set to voice his frustration over the CD as well as what he considers to be Hollywood's overall glorification of marijuana in a speech to the Entertainment Industries Council in Los Angeles.
        Other prohibitionist groups who have recently voiced their ardent disapproval over the release of the HEMPILATION CD include the Atlanta-based Parents Resource and Information on Drug Education (PRIDE), the Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse (CASA), and the Family Research Council.

Alaska Court Rules Roadside Marijuana Search To Be Illegal

        September 27, 1995, Anchorage, AK:  In a ruling that could cast doubt upon the legality of many roadside searches, Alaska District Court Judge William Fuld has dismissed charges against a man who was arrested after a state trooper reportedly smelled marijuana and then demanded that the defendant "hand it over."  In the court's view, the officer's phrase: "hand it over" was not a choice, but a demand to search the defendant's vehicle.  Therefore, the court ruled that the roadside search was improper because no valid consent was ever given by the defendant.
        "The trooper was in uniform and the defendant testified that he felt he had to respond to the officer's command," summarized Fuld in his court opinion.  "The demand to 'hand it over' admitted to by the trooper was an illegal search of the defendant.  While the trooper smelled marijuana, he had no right to search the passenger.  ...
        ... The state argues that there was a valid consent to a search.  I don't think so.  No choice was offered [to the defendant.]"
        For more information on this decision, please contact Don Hart of the National Lawyers Guild @ (907) 376-2232 or Len Karpinski of Anchorage NORML @ (907) 248-HEMP.

Sentencing Project Report Reveals That Nearly One In Three Black Males
Are Under Criminal Justice Supervision

        October 4, 1995, Washington, DC:  Nearly one in three African American males in their twenties is either in prison, jail, on probation, or on parole, according to report issued this month by the Washington DC-based Sentencing Project.  This figure is a significant increase over the approximately 25 percent of five years ago.  The report, entitled Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later, cites the federal "war on drugs" as the largest contributing factor to the disproportionate number of young black males currently under criminal justice supervision.
        For more information or to receive a copy of the Sentencing Project's latest report, please contact Mark Mauer of the Sentencing Project @ (202) 628-0871.