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

February 22, 1996

Law Enforcement Raids Cincinnati Buyers Club

        February 16, 1996, Covington, KY:  The home of activist and medical marijuana user Richard Evans has been raided by law enforcement officials.  Evans' house served as the home base for the 9-year-old Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club.
        Evans, who was not home at the time of the raid, subsequently checked himself into a local hospital to combat onsetting symptoms of manic depression -- a medical condition which he is treated for.  Evans stayed at the hospital throughout the weekend and intends to turn himself over to local authorities.
        Evans informed NORML that he still has "no idea" what charges may be pending against him, but speculated that he may be facing felony offenses for two marijuana seedlings that were present in his home.  Ironically, witnesses report that law enforcement officers failed to seize the seedlings.
        The Cincinnati Buyers Club is one of an estimated 30 underground cannabis buyers clubs located throughout the country.  The Cincinnati CBC has an eight member board of directors and distributes marijuana to approximately 30 patients.  NORML will attempt to update this story next week.
        For more information on Richard Evans' case, please write to: Americans for Compassionate Use, P.O. Box 2175, Covington, KY 41012.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill Unanimously Passes Senate Public Health Committee

        February 15, 1996, Jefferson City, MO:  A medical marijuana bill (Senate Bill 573) introduced by State Senator Joe Mosley has unanimously passed the Senate Public Health Committee.  The bill states that "no criminal or civil penalty shall apply to any person for the act of possessing marijuana provided that ... a [physician] certifies in writing that the person is under professional care [and] ... needs marijuana as part of a therapeutic regimen.
        Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets says that he is pleased with the committee's recommendation to the Senate to pass the bill.  However, he added a note of skepticism regarding a last minute amendment to the bill that instructs the University of Missouri to conduct research on the efficacy and safety of whole-smoked cannabis to that of the synthetic-THC drug Marinol.
        "I hope this doesn't bog the bill down and undermine the overall purpose of the legislation: to stop seriously ill individuals from going to prison for their medical use of cannabis," Viets said.
        The bill will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.
        For more information, please contact Dan Viets of Missouri NORML @ (314) 443-6866.

Hemp Businessman Sentenced To More Than 8 Years In Prison

        February 15, 1996, Minneapolis, MN:  Hemp activist and founder of the U.S. Hemp Company, Arlin Trout, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to possess more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
        Trout accused the prosecution of utilizing paid informers and snitches to frame him and labeled himself a political prisoner who is being targeted for his beliefs.  Arlin's wife, Cathy, will now be left to run the successful clothing business and raise the Trout's six children on her own.
        Prior to his sentencing, Trout gave an impassioned speech to U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum.  "I was charged and convicted of conspiring to sell a plant that grows wild in this region and [that] once provided legal jobs for Minnesota.  This plant is the oldest, safest source of food, fuel, fiber and medicine on Earth and has infinite industrial and medicinal value to society.
        "... Fear and ignorance guided by greed and blind ambition created the prohibition of hemp.  I am morally and intellectually compelled to resist these forces.  When the American people find out what hemp is and why it's really illegal, may they deal with this government as harshly as it has dealt with me.
        Although Trout's supporters applauded Arlin's bold speech, Judge Rosenbaum was unmoved and sentenced Trout to the maximum sentence recommended under the U.S. sentencing guidelines.
        When asked if she felt that her husband's speech may have increased the length of his sentence, Cathy Trout responded, "Why not stand up for your rights?  One day in jail is too long.  You can't be expected to admit you're wrong when you don't believe you are.  You've got to live with yourself.  Besides, the extra time isn't going to destroy the fact that I love him and his children love him, and no matter how long he's in [prison], that won't change."
        Despite Trout's incarceration, he is reportedly planning to run as the United States vice presidential candidate for the 10-year-old Grassroots Party.
        For more information on this case, please contact either Cathy Trout of U.S. Hemp @ (602) 983-7065 or The Grassroots Party of Minnesota @ (612) 722-4GRP.
        Additional text relating to Trout's trial is available on the Internet at:

America Online Poll Reports That 91 Percent Of Americans Favor Marijuana Decriminalization

        February 19, 1996:  An informal poll conducted on America Online following this past Monday's debate between former Drug Czar Lee Brown and NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre reveals that 91 percent of those responding favored decriminalizing marijuana.
        A second poll conducted the following day, asked the question: Is the drug war failing?  Of the respondents who answered, 92.8 percent said "yes.
        A transcript of the February 19 debate is currently available on NORML's homepage @

Public Hemp Display Under Attack From Local Residents

        February 21, 1996, Norman, OK:  A month long hemp display arranged by the University of Oklahoma NORML chapter is under fire from parents and local officials.
        The three case exhibit, currently on display at The Norman Public Library, advocates the legalization of the hemp plant for industrial and agricultural purposes.  On display are various products made from hemp such as hats, shoes, and backpacks as well as a caption next to a picture of former President George Washington encouraging farmers to: "Grow hemp."
        School patron Robert Coffman, who said he was representing other parents, recently criticized the display at a City Council meeting and argued that such an exhibit was inappropriate for children.  In addition, Mayor Bill Nations reports that he has had at least a dozen calls from people opposed to the exhibit.  Nations admits that both city and library officials had tried to prevent UO NORML from running the exhibit.
        Tony Smith, a member of UO NORML, states that the library has received an equal number of compliments as well as complaints from patrons regarding the controversial exhibit.  He further argues that children should be allowed to view the exhibit so they can learn about the historical and industrial uses of the hemp plant.
        "We teach our children that we have a free country where dissenting opinions can be expressed," Smith says.  "Our children are well-informed about the government's position on marijuana.  Our exhibit in a public forum demonstrates that we ... live in a country where freedom of expression exists."
        For more information, please contact Eric Copenhaver of University of Oklahoma NORML @ (405) 366-7610.

Man Held In Texas Jail Begins Hunger Strike
To Protest Incarceration For Marijuana Possession

        February 21, 1996, Macogdoches County, TX:  A native of New York who was arrested in Texas for possessing a minor amount of marijuana has announced that he has begun a hunger strike while in jail to protest Texas' harsh stance on marijuana possession.
        Robert Magill of Buffalo informs NORML that he is in his third day of a hunger strike to bring attention to the severity of Texas laws regarding marijuana possession.  Magill is currently being held on a $1500 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on February 27.
        Magill explained to NORML that he was in the process of hitchhiking to California and does not possess the necessary funds to bail himself out of jail.  He notes that under New York state statutes, he would have faced only a minor fine for possessing marijuana.
        Magill intends to continue his hunger strike at least until his arraignment.

Marin County Police Chief Supports Medical Marijuana Initiative

        February 14, 1996, Fairfax, CA:  Jim Anderson, a long-time police chief for the town of Fairfax is one of the latest law enforcement officials to speak out in favor of California's current medical marijuana initiative.
        "I believe there is adequate unbiased and scientific evidence that marijuana does have medicinal benefit.  When we consider the associated consequences of other prescription drugs it seems illogical to exclude marijuana as another alternative available to physicians for prescription. ..."
        "... Even if there are no other benefits than relief of pain or stimulation of appetite, there appears to be a legitimate place for marijuana in the wide array of legally prescribed drugs.  The legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes seems to strike a reasonable balance between the abuse and illegal use of the drug and its legitimate medicinal value that could be available through prescriptive use.
        "With the increased public attention on my own support of the medicinal use of marijuana, I find that many other conservative persons share this belief.  ...Marijuana is not the street degenerate that ravages society."
        Anderson has been employed in law enforcement and public safety since 1964 and has been a police chief for 14 years.  He is also a member of the U.S. Army Reserve with rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
        The Californians for Compassionate Use coalition is attempting to place an initiative on the 1996 general election ballot that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana as a therapeutic agent.  The coalition needs to collect 600,000 signatures by April 20 to place the initiative on the November ballot.
        For more information, please contact Dennis Peron of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (415) 621-3986.

Marijuana Reformers Demonstrate In New Zealand

        February 20, 1996, Wellington, New Zealand:  According to a Reuters news feature, an estimated 250 people demonstrated outside of New Zealand's parliament for the legalization of marijuana.  The demonstrators were members of the Aotearoa (New Zealand) Legalize Cannabis Party.
        Spokesman for the party, Mike Finlayson, told supporters that the government should get out of people's lives and concentrate police resources on fighting violent crime.  The marijuana-reform group estimates that half a million New Zealanders use the drug.
        Police made 11 arrests during the protest after several of the demonstrators lit marijuana cigarettes.  The eleven individuals were detained for possession of marijuana and obstructing police.