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

January 18, 1996

U.S. Supreme Court To Review Double Jeopardy Case

        January 12, 1996, Washington, DC:  The United States Supreme Court has agreed to review the case that has virtually halted civil forfeitures across the country and resulted in thousands of convicted individuals asking courts to vacate their convictions.
        In United States v. $405,089.23 in U.S. Currency, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that civil forfeitures constitute punishment for the purpose of double jeopardy.  Soon thereafter, courts across the country were flooded with petitions from inmates claiming that they had been punished by civil forfeiture and demanding that their convictions must be vacated.  Consequently, prosecutors throughout the nation have been besieged with litigation which requires that they defend cases they thought they had already won.
        Criminal forfeiture statutes allow the government to simply combine the forfeiture and the criminal prosecution in the same case.  However, civil forfeitures are preferred by the government because the property owner is presumed guilty and because prosecutors have the added benefit of impoverishing the property owner as he or she faces a criminal prosecution.  Should the Supreme Court affirm the 9th Circuit's decision, even in part, many convictions and civil forfeitures will have to be undone.
        Both the government and the property owners urged the Supreme Court to take this case to resolve a host of issues which have arisen in the 6 years since the Court ruled in 1989 that civil forfeiture could be considered punishment for double jeopardy purposes.
        For more information on civil forfeiture, please contact counsel for the property owners: Jeffrey Steinborn (206) 622-5117, or Jeffrey Finer (509)455-3700.

Exiting Drug Czar Takes "Pot" Shot At New Hemp Shoe

        January 13, 1996, Washington, DC:  The name of Adidas' new hemp-based sneaker has fallen under staunch criticism from exiting drug czar, Lee Brown.  In a January 5 letter addressed to Adidas America President Steven Wynne, Brown asserts that the product's brand name -- "The Hemp" -- was specifically chosen to glorify and capitalize on the drug culture.  "On behalf of the children of America...," Brown writes, "I call upon you not to market [this] shoe."
        In response to the drug czar's sharp reproach, Wynne answers that the shoe's brand name was chosen simply as a way to call attention to the industrial material used to construct the shoe.  "Adidas ... is working to produce products that are environmentally responsible," responds Wynne.  "One such material is hemp.  ...Consistent with this direction, we have produced a shoe using hemp.  ..."
        ... [Furthermore,] products made from fiber hemp, including our shoes have no drug qualities.  I don't believe you will encounter anyone smoking our shoes anytime soon."
        This past Friday, Brown shot off a second letter to Wynne, chastising the "sarcastic" tone of his previous response and again repeating his demand that Adidas find another name for its shoe.  "What the shoe is made of is not the problem," Brown counters.  "The problem is what you call it.  ...I do not think it is in the goal of curbing drug abuse to imply that drugs are cool."
        Adidas spokesman John Fread says the company has not yet decided whether it will respond to Brown's latest letter.  The controversial Adidas shoe hit stores in December, but has not yet been publicly advertised.
        For more information on the uses of industrial hemp fiber, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Florida Schools To Consider Drug Testing Students

        January 12, 1996, Fort Myers, FL:  The Lee County school board is considering whether to impose random drug tests on its entire upper level student body as a way to deter teen drug use.  The proposed tests would be given regardless of reasonable suspicion and would extend to all students in middle and high school.  School board members intend to decide on the issue before the next school year.
        "I think there is a [drug] problem," board member Pat Riley told the Fort Myers News Press.  "When I mention it to students, they jokingly say: 'There goes the whole basketball team, or the whole football team.'  I don't think that's funny.
        Lee County school officials note that the schools already undergo random searches by drug dogs of students' lockers, although few drugs have been found.  Nevertheless, Superintendent Bobbie D'Alessandro states that results of a survey of 5,000 Lee County high school students demonstrate that there is a drug problem.
        For more information on student drug testing, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Clinton Administration Close To Naming New Drug Czar

        January 17, 1996, Washington, DC:  Army Lt. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey is a leading contender to be the nation's next drug czar, reports a recent story in The Washington Post.
        The Post article quotes an unnamed senior administration official who said McCaffrey is "looking good" for the position.  McCaffrey is one of the country's most decorated generals and in the past has taken a hard-line stance against drugs.  He recently criticized the United States' current drug interdiction efforts during a public forum at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington DC Republican think-tank.
        Many political analysts speculate that appointing a tough, no-nonsense military figure to head the federal "war on drugs" would be a wise strategic move for the Clinton administration, which has often been criticized for appearing "soft" on the illegal drug issue.
        If McCaffrey is selected for the position, he would be the nation's fourth drug czar, after William Bennett, former Florida governor Bob Martinez, and Lee Brown.

San Francisco D.A. Refuses To Charge Drug Offenses Under The Three Strikes Law

        January 17, 1995, San Francisco, CA:  The city's new top prosecutor will not charge nonviolent crimes, such as drug offenses, under the state's tough three strikes law.
        A drug violation is "not something someone should be going to prison for 25 years for," says District Attorney Terence Hallinan.  The Associated Press reports that drugs are involved in 63 percent of the three strikes cases in San Francisco.
        Hallinan's office is currently working out the details of his more lenient policy.
        For more information on mandatory minimum sentencing, please contact Julie Stewart at Families Against Mandatory Minimums @ (202) 457-5790.

NORML Chapter To Run Month Long Hemp Exhibit

        January 15, 1996, Norman, Oklahoma:  University of Oklahoma NORML will be running a month long hemp exhibit in the display case of the Norman (OK) Municipal Public Library starting on February 1.
        Initially, the NORML chapter's request to gain access to the display case was denied by library management.  UO NORML challenged this decision and contacted the ACLU alleging that the library was engaging in discrimination.  Library officials eventually consented last summer following the ACLU's involvement and UO NORML President Eric Copenhaver reports that the scheduled exhibit will be taking place next month as planned.
        For more information on the Norman Municipal Library hemp exhibit, please contact Eric Copenhaver of University of Oklahoma NORML @ (405) 366-7610.