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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.
November 16, 1995
Judge Dismisses Drug Charges Against
State "Licensed" Marijuana Dealer:
Court Rules Marijuana Tax Stamps To Be Double Jeopardy
November 1, 1995, Phoenix, AZ: In a
ruling whose implications have been described as "staggering,"
a Phoenix court has dismissed charges against Arizona NORML
Chairman, Peter Wilson, because of evidence that he is licensed
by the state to sell marijuana. Wilson was charged with
possession of marijuana after police confiscated a bag of
marijuana at his home on August 22.
Basing his ruling on constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy, Judge John Barclay concluded that Wilson could not be prosecuted for possession of marijuana because of taxes he has paid to the Arizona Department of Review to sell cannabis. Under Title 42 of a 1983 law, Arizona residents can purchase both a license and tax stamps ($10 per ounce) to legally possess and sell marijuana. Wilson possessed both a license and over $200 dollars worth of stamps at the time of his arrest.
Noting that the creation of Title 42 creates a "confusing paradox," Judge Barclay ruled that "the facts in this case prohibit prosecution for the possession of marijuana because the tax imposed prior to the prosecution served a punitive purpose." The Fifth Amendment strictly prohibits citizens from being punished more than once for the same offense.
Bill Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, says that the state intends to appeal the ruling.
In the meantime, Wilson is encouraging the Arizona cannabis community to contact the Department of Revenue and -- as quickly as possible -- acquire the "trinity:" a marijuana license, stamps, and a copy of Judge Barclay's decision. "The police should then say to you something like, 'Well, sir, I see [that] you are lawfully in possession of marijuana. Have a good day.'"
For more information, please contact Peter Wilson of AZ4NORML @ (602) 861-0855. To acquire a copy of Judge Barclay's decision, please contact the Northwest Phoenix Justice Court @ (602) 395-0293 and refer to case # CR95-02094-FE (State of Arizona vs Peter Banker Wilson).
Massachusetts Governor Refuses To Sign Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense Act
November 10, 1995, Massachusetts:
Governor William Weld has refused to sign legislation that would
allow for defendants facing charges of marijuana possession to
argue that they use the drug as a medicine. Weld returned
the bill (H 2170 aka the Joe Hutchins Act) back to the Legislature
requesting that lawmakers tighten the bill's language.
According to press reports, Weld balked at the bill because he felt that, as written, the legislation "would in all likelihood lead to inappropriate assertions of the defense." Weld also notes that the bill would allow a defendant to take a "self-diagnosis approach." Weld suggested amending the bill to require that the defendant must be certified to participate in a therapeutic research program and possess the marijuana for personal use as a result of that program.
Rep. Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), the bill's sponsor, was shocked by the governor's actions. Jehlen claimed that House members have worked closely with Weld's staff and did not anticipate the governor's recent concerns over defendants misusing the defense. "We [already] have language to address that [problem,]" Jehlen said. "All my original bill would've done is let people who are suffering tell the jury why they were smoking marijuana."
Moreover, backers of H 2170 claim that Weld's amended language for the bill is nothing more than an empty gesture. There exists no such state research program, proponents for the bill note, and even if there was, the government no longer makes the drug available for medical research. In short, "[Weld's] amendment means that there is no bill," Jehlen said.
Currently, eight Americans receive marijuana from the federal government as part of the Compassionate Investigative New Drug (IND) program. This program was closed to new applicants in 1992 and it remains in operation only for the eight surviving previously-approved recipients.
For more information on the Joe Hutchins Act (H 2170), please contact Steven Epstein of MASS CANN NORML @ (617) 599 3161.
ACLU Poll Demonstrates That Americans Clearly Support Medical Marijuana
November 9, 1995: Preliminary findings
from a recent study conducted by the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) demonstrate that the legalization of marijuana for
medical use is favored by a clear majority of American voters.
The poll notes that 79 percent of Americans thought it would be a "good idea" to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes. Eighty five percent of the respondents said that they would "favor" making marijuana legally available for medical uses where it has been proven effective for treating a problem.
The ACLU study also reports that Americans tend to separate their opinions regarding marijuana for medical use and marijuana for recreational use. While the study demonstrates that a "clear majority" of respondents favor changes in the federal law that would allow for the medical use of marijuana, only a "near majority" support the decriminalization of marijuana for social use.
For more information, please contact the ACLU @ (212) 944-9800.
Germany To Begin Cultivating Industrial Hemp
November 1995, Germany: The New York Times
News Service reports that the German government is repealing its
ban on the cultivation of industrial hemp. The hemp
plant--also known as marijuana--can be used to make various
products such as clothes, textiles, foodstuffs, cosmetics, paper,
Hemp has been stigmatized in Germany because it can also produce marijuana, noted Health Minister Horst Seehofer. However, Seehofer stated that farmers now possess the technology to grow strains of hemp that contain less than 0.3 percent THC--the substance that gives marijuana and hashish their psychoactive qualities. Therefore, "the principle argument against a continuing ban on hemp cultivation is ... no longer valid," Seehofer said.
Hemp production is rapidly becoming a booming industry throughout Europe and is already permitted in Spain, Britain, France, and the majority of Eastern Europe. Recently, worldwide clothing manufacturers such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Adidas have all introduced hemp to their product lines.
"German farmers should be able to take advantage of the market potential for the hemp plant," Seehofer concluded.
For more information on the many uses of industrial hemp, please contact NORML to order a copy Industrial Hemp: Practical Products--Paper to Fabric to Cosmetics. The booklet is available for $4.50 ppd.
Annual PRIDE Survey Shows Increase In Adolescents Using Drugs, Marijuana
November 2, 1995, Atlanta, Georgia: A
recent survey from the National Parents' Resource Institute for
Drug Education (PRIDE) reports "significant increases"
in the use of cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens
among adolescents. These findings come shortly after data from
the 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse also noted an
increase in adolescent marijuana use.
The PRIDE report states that: "Marijuana use [has] increased more dramatically than any drug in the study. One third of high school seniors (33 percent) have smoked marijuana in the past year, and one fifth (21 percent) smoked monthly."
The report further notes that monthly marijuana use among high school students rose 2.9 percent over the past year and now stands at 18.5 percent. By comparison, the Household Survey data reported that 7.3 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 used marijuana on a regular basis.
PRIDE announced that the rising figures should serve as a warning to baby boomers with children. "More of your teenagers are using drug than last year," the parents organization warns, "and too few of you are doing what you can to prevent it."
For more information, please contact Doug Hall of PRIDE @ (770) 458-9900.
SAMHSA's Figures Don't Match Up
With Brown's Statements Regarding Marijuana Related Emergency Room Episodes
November 8, 1995, Washington, DC:
Recent figures released from an upcoming report that tracks the
number of Americans admitted to hospital emergency rooms with
drug-related problems conflict with statements made earlier this
summer by Drug Czar Lee Brown. The complete 1994 report
will be released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration later this year.
The report's press release states that just over a half-million Americans wound up in hospital emergency rooms with drug related problems in 1994, including a record number 142,000 with cocaine-related episodes. The release additionally states that some 40,000 episodes were related to marijuana and hashish, although it notes that almost half of these patients also used alcohol and cocaine.
This data directly conflicts with statements made by Drug Czar Lee Brown this past July regarding the supposed dangers of marijuana. At that time, Brown told the national media that, "[Marijuana] now sends nearly as many people to the hospital as cocaine." (Washington Post, July 28, 1995) Yet, the figures released by SAMHSA demonstrate that more than seven times as many individuals went to the emergency room because of cocaine related episodes in 1994 as did those who consumed marijuana alone. The newly released figures indicate that Brown grossly exaggerated his previous statements regarding marijuana-related emergency room admissions to incorrectly imply that marijuana is as dangerous as cocaine.
Some marijuana users are admitted to emergency rooms after suffering panic attacks from consuming cannabis. These attacks are relatively harmless and subside within a few hours. National data estimates that approximately 10 million Americans use marijuana monthly.
The SAMHSA release concluded that "cocaine ... appears to be the primary cause for the increase in total drug-related emergency department episodes since the mid 1980s."
For more information or to acquire a copy of the SAMHSA press release, please contact the Drugs & Crime Data Center & Clearinghouse @ 1-800-SAY-NO-TO or SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies @ (301) 443-7980.
Clinton, Brown Speak At Community Anti-Drug Coalition Of America Forum
November 2, 1995, Alexandria, VA: Both
President Clinton and Drug Czar Lee Brown were among those
federal officials speaking at the Community Anti-Drug Coalition
of America's (CADCA) annual National Leadership Forum. This
year's forum signified the kick-off of the CADCA's "Working
Together to Save Lives" drug-awareness campaign,
memorializing the men, women, and children who have died in
drug-related deaths. The campaign is handing out "Memorial
Bracelets" to symbolize the many victims of drug-related
deaths. The CADCA estimates that 35,000 people died in
drug-related incidents in 1992 alone; however, the organization
does not distinguish between deaths due to the use of illegal
drugs themselves (i.e., Tish Smith, an eighteen year old victim
of an accidental heroin and cocaine overdose) and deaths due to
the federal prohibition of drugs (i.e., Edward Plank, a 28 year
old police officer who was killed by drug runners this past
President Clinton, who was presented with the first "Memorial Bracelet," spoke broadly about drug use in general and specifically about concerns he held regarding a recent increase in casual marijuana use among teenagers. Clinton claimed that the recreational use of marijuana was "dangerous" because marijuana "is more toxic than ever before" and is a gateway to other drugs. The president later added that he would "convene a White House leadership conference on adolescent drug use and violence in January." NORML knows of no evidence indicating that today's marijuana is either more toxic than marijuana of the past or that it is a causal link to hard drug use.
Citing figures from a new survey conducted by the Parents Resource and Information on Drug Education (PRIDE), Drug Czar Lee Brown once again reiterated his beliefs that marijuana is a highly dangerous drug. "Marijuana fuel[s] a culture of violence which is destroying the lives of thousands of our young people," Brown stated.
For more information on the CADCA's new campaign, please contact either Sue Kennedy @ (202) 833-4230 or Tony Tijerino @ (202) 833-4208.
State Representative Advocates The Cultivation Of Industrial Hemp In Hawaii
November 1995, Hawaii: State
Representative David Tarnas voiced his support for establishing a
legal, domestic hemp industry in Hawaii in the November issue of
Ka'u Landing magazine. In an article written by Tarnas and
entitled The Politics of Hemp: An Emerging Public Policy Issue,
he states that: "The government must do its best to open up
commerce in industrial hemp. ... My goal is to remove
barriers to allow commerce to prove itself. Get government
out of the way, and let a legitimate hemp business support a
diversified, well integrated local economy."
Mr. Tarnas also used the feature article to state his stern consternation for the prosecution of Roger Christie and Aaron Anderson for possessing sterilized hemp seeds. Tarnas noted that state statutes "explicitly allow commerce in sterilized hemp seed" and further added that "the prosecutor has made public statements that the defendants are being targeted because they are hemp advocates."
"As a state representative, I say this [prosecution] is absurd! Government doesn't have money to waste on frivolous lawsuits. This is a flagrant example of commerce being strangled by unjustified government interference."
State Representative Dave Tarnas can be contacted at the following address: PO Box 2523, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745. For more information on Christie and Anderson's bizarre and controversial trial, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.
Connecticut Department Of Motor Vehicles Enters The Drug War
November, 1995, Connecticut: Angry
Connecticut residents have recently contacted NORML to alert
others of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles recent
practice of including drug interdiction information along with
one's license renewal forms. The additional anti-drug
flyers encourage area residents to provide information on illegal
drug trafficking, "including marijuana growing," in
exchange for a potential "$250,000 reward." The
flyer also entices snitching by stating that, "Both state
and federal authorities can pay a percentage of the value of
forfeited property to individuals providing information leading
to the seizure of property."
A toll free, twenty-four drug hotline is also included.
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 90 SECONDS!
A personal note from Carl E. Olsen:
The full text of the recently introduced (Nov. 13, 1995) federal medicial marijuana bill, H.R.2618 (therapeutic use of marihuana), is now available online. The URL is:
Sincerely, Carl E. Olsen
Iowa NORML coordinator