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

January 11, 1996

Canadian Hemp Activist, Businessman Busted By Vancouver Police

        January 4, Vancouver, Canada:  Police have raided the Hemp BC store in Vancouver, British Columbia, and are charging the store's owner, vocal hemp activist Marc Emery, and three employees with selling marijuana seeds.  Emery had been selling marijuana seeds, along with hemp products and literature, from his retail store for the last 19 months in open defiance of the law.
        Emery was recently featured in a front page article of the Wall Street Journal where he boasted to have sold "130,000 seeds" this year alone.
        The raid took place at approximately 1 p.m. and law enforcement officials seized seeds and drug paraphernalia such as pipes, bongs, and mushroom grow kits.  A large Budget Rent-a-truck was parked outside to help the police move Hemp BC's wide assortment of products.  Emery and three employees were taken away in handcuffs and all four activists are being charged with trafficking marijuana seeds and selling instruments and paraphernalia for illicit drug use.  If found guilty of both charges, all four could face each life imprisonment and fines of $100,000.
        Police Constable Anne Drennan states that the Hemp BC bust is the first time in Vancouver history that trafficking charges have been filed against individuals for selling marijuana seeds.  Drennan further added that she expects Emery -- a self-proclaimed libertarian who has previously served time in jail for opening his bookstore on Sunday in disobedience of Ontario's blue laws -- to conduct a very public court challenge.
        Both Emery and the three Hemp BC employees were released Friday on their own recognizance.  A preliminary hearing has been set for February 8, 1996.
        Dana Larsen, editor of the magazine Cannabis Canada, reports that the Hemp BC retail storefront continues to remain open for business in spite of last Thursday's raid.  "We will be selling pipes, bongs, and seeds as per usual, although we might be understocked for a day or two," he says.
        For more information on Hemp BC or Marc Emery's arrest, please contact Hemp BC @ (800) 330-HEMP.

American Farm Bureau Supports Industrial Hemp Research

        January 11, 1995, Reno, Nevada:  The American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest farming organization in the United States, passed a resolution at its annual convention calling for research that could lead to the re-introduction of hemp into the American farm economy.
        The resolution, adopted by a unanimous vote of the 51 state presidents and all 300 voting delegates, reads: "We recommend that [the] American Farm Bureau Federation encourage research into the viability and economic potential of industrial hemp production in the United States.  We further recommend that such research includes planting test plots in the United States using modern agricultural techniques."
        Often described as "marijuana's misunderstood cousin," industrial hemp is from the same plant species that produces marijuana.  Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its euphoric properties.  Industrial hemp is currently grown legally throughout much of Europe and Asia and is being cultivated in test plots in Australia and Canada.
        Andrew Graves, incoming president of the Fayette County chapter of the Kentucky Farm Bureau and vice-president of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, introduced the resolution at the convention.  "What we are asking for is research to determine whether industrial hemp can once again become a profitable agricultural commodity for American farmers just as it is for farmers around the world," Graves said in his presentation.  "Where would agriculture be without research?"
        In a separate resolution, the AFB also voted to affirm its policy in support of government efforts to eradicate illegal drugs, including marijuana.
        For more information on the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, please contact Andrew Graves @ (606) 293-0579 or write to P.O. Box 8395, Lexington, KY 40533.  The American Farm Bureau Federation may be contacted @ (202) 484-3600.

U.S. Representative Criticizes Hempilation Protest Rally

        January 3, 1996, Washington, DC:  In response to a December 1 rally held outside the offices of Boston radio station WBCN to the protest the airplay of the NORML benefit CD Hempilation, U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has issued a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno both condemning the actions of rally organizers, the Governor's Alliance Against Drugs, and requesting an inquiry into whether federal law enforcement officials were involved.
        Like many others who have voiced their disapproval over the actions of the G.A.A.D. (i.e., National Writers Union, Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression, Mass/Cann, etc.), Frank is highly critical of the actions of a Drug Enforcement Administration official who allegedly took an active role in the protest.  "It does not seem to me at all appropriate for a federal law enforcement agent to accompany an individual [G.A.A.D. Executive Director Georgette Watson] who is making a demand that a media outlet cease broadcasting a particular album, no matter how ... ill-advised you, I and the DEA might find it to be," Frank writes.  "This [sort of conduct] puts the federal government in the position of lending official support to an interference with freedom of expression. ..."
        ... [Therefore,] if in fact a DEA agent accompanied Ms. Watson and lent support by his ... presence to her demand that the radio station stop playing [the Hempilation] CD, [then] that is a wholly inappropriate action for a federal law enforcement official ... and I ask that you look into it and make clear that this is not the sort of thing that should happen."
        For more information, please contact either Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML @ (617) 944-2266 or Jeremy Much of Capricorn Records @ (615) 320-8470.  For further information on the Hempilation CD, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

College Freshman Survey Shows Renewed Support For Marijuana Legalization

        January 8, 1996:  Results from an annual survey of college freshmen indicates that support for marijuana legalization currently stands at a 15-year high.  Nearly 34 percent of the respondents favored the legalization of cannabis, The Associated Press reported.  This figure was double the 17 percent who held that view in 1989.

Bipartisan Committee Set To Analyze Violent Crime In America; Issues First Report

        January 5, 1996, Washington, DC:  The bipartisan committee, Council on Crime in America, held a press conference to issue its debut report on the state of violent crime in America.  The task force is co-chaired by former Drug Czar William Bennett and former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell.
        The committee's first report is "descriptive" rather than "prescriptive" and reveals that violent crime today still remains at a historic high.  "This study paints a realistic and sobering picture of violent crime in America," says Bennett.
        Future reports and conferences will be aimed at addressing potential solutions to America's violent crime problem, the bipartisan task force announced.  One of the problems that the bipartisan commission intends to address is the notion that America's current criminal justice system is simply a "revolving door" for career offenders.
        "We are hear to underscore the American people's perception on violent crime," Bennett concluded.
        For more information or for a copy of the report, "The State of Violent Crime In America," please contact Lara Stead by fax @ (202) 822-8328.