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

February 29, 1996

NORML Issues Principles Of Responsible Cannabis Use

        February 29, 1995, Washington D.C.:  The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the nation's oldest and largest interest group dedicated solely to marijuana law reform, has adopted a set of Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use.  NORML maintains that when marijuana is enjoyed responsibly, subjecting users to harsh criminal and civil penalties provides no public health benefit and causes terrible injustices.  For reasons of public safety, public health, economics, and justice, the prohibition laws should be repealed to the extent that they criminalize responsible marijuana use.  The key points to the Principles of Responsible Use are as follows:

        For more information on the Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Vermont House Of Representatives Approves Hemp Cultivation Legislation

        February 29, 1996, Montpelier, Vermont:  Legislation that proposes to permit development of a domestic hemp industry in Vermont (H.783) was approved by the House of Representatives by a voice vote today.  The bill had received wide-scale bi-partisan support one day earlier when the second reading was approved by a 108-33 vote.  The overwhelming number of votes in favor of the legislation would override the Governor's veto if he chooses to oppose it.  In the past, Gov. Howard B. Dean has spoken out against hemp cultivation claiming that it would be tantamount to legalizing marijuana.
        The Vermont legislation is similar to a pending Colorado hemp bill introduced by Senator Lloyd Casey (D-Northglenn) and would authorize the University of Vermont to undertake research of industrial hemp production in the state.  A key aspect of this research would include growing test plots of industrial hemp.
        The bill is expected to go to the Senate after session tomorrow barring any last minute calls for reconsideration.  Legislators note that there appears to be little opposition for the proposal in the Senate.
        Sen. Thomas Bahre (R-Addison), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee told the Vermont Times that he hopes to begin taking testimony on the bill as soon as March 18.  "We want to seriously look at whether there is anybody out there to buy this fiber, and what its potential is to create manufacturing jobs," he said.  "If it doesn't then I don't see a need to go any further.  But, I do think this fiber has the potential to have land produce something that isn't producing milk."
        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 can be used to produce a variety of products such as cosmetics, textiles, paper, paints, plastics, and animal feed.
        For more information about industrial hemp, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Hemp To Be Planted On American Indian Soil

        February 17, 1996, Chandler Heights, AZ:  The Coalition for Hemp Awareness (CHA) announced that the Navajo Nation has issued a resolution allowing for hemp cultivation to take place on American Indian soil.  CHA has scheduled a spring planting to take place on March 17, 1996.
        The Navaho Hemp Project began in 1992 when activists Jim Robinson and Tom and Carolyn McCormick moved to the reservation for the purpose of introducing hemp cultivation on sovereign soil.  The trio were so successful in their education campaign that the resolution was passed by the Navajo Nation with a unanimous vote of 30-0.
        Although over 30,000 acres of the Navajo Nation have been allocated for hemp cultivation, CHA's initial planting will be limited to a small seed bank crop.  In addition, CHA states that the organization is close to securing approval for similar cultivation projects from ten other tribes located across the United States.
        The Coalition for Hemp Awareness was founded in 1991 to incite the rapid return of cannabis hemp as an agricultural base crop.  CHA is a political advocacy network group that assimilates and disseminates hemp information to both politicians and the public.
        For more information on the Coalition for Hemp Awareness or the Navajo Hemp Project, please contact CHA @ (602) 988-9355 or write to: P.O. Box 9068, Chandler Heights, AZ 85227.  CHA can be contacted on the Internet @

Illinois Supreme Court Finds Cannabis Tax Stamps Unconstitutional

        February 15, 1996, Illinois:  The Illinois Supreme Court has declared that the application of the state's Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act in the case a defendant who had previously plead guilty to drug possession charges constitutes double jeopardy under the United States Constitution.  This decision follows closely on the heels of similar rulings reached by both an Arizona trial court and the Indiana Supreme Court.
        Writing the opinion of the court, Justice Harrison rejected the state's argument that the application of the Illinois act is not contingent upon commission of a crime.  "Under the Act, the only persons liable for the tax are 'dealers,'" the justice writes.  "[T]o be a 'dealer' within the meaning of the statute, one must have carried out certain enumerated acts 'in violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Cannabis Control Act,' both of which are criminal statutes.  [Hence,] by the terms of the Act, criminal conduct is a prerequisite to tax liability. ..."
        ... [Consequently,] because the Department of Revenue cannot determine whether a person is a 'dealer' subject to the tax unless and until that person had been found guilty of the underlying criminal offense, the Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act not only assumes that a crime has been committed, it also presupposes that the offending party has been arrested, charged and convicted.  In this regard, the act ... [is] a form of punishment for double jeopardy."
        For more information on this case, please refer to Docket No. 77708 (Keith Robert Wilson v. The Department Of Revenue), filed February 15, 1996.  For more information on cannabis tax stamps, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

California Medical Marijuana Initiative Heads Toward November State Ballot

        February 26, 1996, Santa Monica, CA: An initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana appears headed for the November 1996 California ballot thanks to crucial last-minute financial support from a group of major donors.  The new donations make it likely that supporters will garner the necessary number of signatures by the April 20 deadline to place the initiative on the ballot.
        Initiative organizers were elated by the gift and expressed confidence that voters would approve the measure.  Polls indicate that a solid majority of Californians support the medicinal legalization of marijuana.  The current medical marijuana initiative would guarantee the right of patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if they possess a physician's recommendation.
        Medical marijuana has remained illegal despite growing acceptance in the health care community of its efficacy in the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and muscle spasticity.  Under current state law, Californians who cultivate marijuana for medicinal use may be subject to up to three years in state prison.
        The 1996 medical marijuana initiative has been endorsed by the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and West Hollywood; the Santa Cruz and Marin Boards of Supervisors; the California Nurses Association; the Los Angeles AIDS Commission, the California Multiple Sclerosis Society, the California Seniors' Legislature, and many other organizations and public leaders.
        According to statements made to the New York Times by Dennis Peron, Director of the California Medical Marijuana Initiative, the all-volunteer signature drive has gathered approximately 200,000 signatures to date.  The coalition must collect 600,000 signatures by April 20 to place the initiative on the November ballot.
        For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (510) 540-1066 or Scott Imler of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (310) 314-4049.

Cincinnati Buyers Club Founder Takes Offensive Following Police Raid

        February 29, 1996, Covington, KY:  Richard Evans, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club -- one of an estimated 30 underground clubs located across the country that supplies marijuana as a therapeutic to seriously ill patients who possess a physician's recommendation -- has taken the offensive since his home was raided by police on February 16.  Evans' home served as the headquarters for the club which distributed marijuana to approximately 30 patients.
        Evans and his attorney, marijuana activist Gatewood Galbraith, held a press conference on the Covington courthouse steps at the Kenton County Municipal Building to protest the police action.  "If they want to make this the battle [for medical marijuana clubs,] then we're ready to do battle," Galbraith told the press.  "Only a fascist nation would keep this premiere medicine from the hands of seriously ill patients ... for whom it is the best therapy."
        Even though Evans' house was raided over one week ago and marijuana was confiscated, law enforcement officials have yet to produce a warrant for Evans' arrest.  Even so, Evans' case and subsequent press conference have drawn an exceptional amount of favorable press coverage including features in the Kentucky Post, Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, and at least two television news stations.  Covington police have refused to comment on the situation.
        "I am sick of living in a country where I can't be free," summarized Evans.  "Give me liberty or give me death.  We are going to have a cannabis buyers club."
        For more information on the Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club, please contact Americans for Compassionate Use @ (606) 431-8719.  For more information on medical marijuana and cannabis buyers clubs, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.