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

March 21, 1996

Industrial Hemp Planted On American Indian Soil

        March 17, 1996, Navajo Nation, Arizona:  A scheduled planting of industrial hemp seeds by the Coalition for Hemp Awareness (CHA) took place on test plots of American Indian soil.  The initial planting came about following a resolution passed unanimously by the Navajo Nation to allow for hemp cultivation to occur on sovereign soil.
        Following meetings with both the Vice President and the Director of Agriculture of the Navajo Nation, CHA spokesman Christie Bohling told NORML that support for the hemp cultivation project is "overwhelming beyond our wildest dreams."  Bohling notes that adverse weather and a lack of seeds limited CHA's spring planting to a small "ceremonial celebration," but adds that a widescale planting is scheduled for the end of April.
        The Navajo 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.  Currently, well over 30,000 acres of Navajo nation land has been allocated for hemp cultivation.  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.  This will enable CHA the opportunity to grow hemp in a variety of "different [climates and] environments," Bohling explains.
        The Coalition for Hemp Awareness was founded in 1991 to incite the rapid return of cannabis hemp as an agricultural 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.

DC NORML, Virginia Activists Thwart Prohibitionist Movement In Virginia

        March 19, 1996, Crewe, VA:  A dazzling array of tough new anti-drug proposals failed to pass the Virginia General Assembly this week.  The measures were opposed by a drug-law reform coalition that included members of DC NORML, Virginians Against Drug Violence, and Virginia's Cannabis Action Network.  The measures would have increased marijuana penalties, permitted drug testing of high-school students, and given courts the broad authority to continue cases despite improper procedures or incomplete lab results.
        "This year we had a real show of force," said activist Lennice Werth of Virginians Against Drug Violence.  "[We had] lots of anti-prohibitionists showing up at the state house to voice their dissatisfaction with this kind of legislation."
        Among bills defeated outright were measures to include marijuana seeds and stems as evidence to increase marijuana penalties (SB34, SB58, HB96, HB169); allow courts to continue cases that have been dismissed due to improper procedures (HB646, SB53); add a $1,000 additional fine for possession or distribution charges to go to local authorities (HB1002), and permit the drug testing of high school students (HB949, HB950, HB579).
        A measure that was not killed, but amended, was legislation that would have greatly expanded the use of military for drug law enforcement, particularly for searching private property.  Werth notes that the amended bill limits use of the military to aerial surveillance only and called the revision "a substantial victory" for the drug reform movement.
        Some measures that passed the General Assembly despite the efforts of drug-law reformers include legislation to legalize double jeopardy (SB435, SJR73) and deny bail to drug offenders (HB504).  Altogether, reformers monitored a total of 48 bills.
        For more information, please contact Lennice Werth of Virginians Against Drug Violence @ (804) 645-8816.

Court TV To Televise Medical Marijuana Trial

        March 1996, New York, NY:  The national cable television station Court TV will be televising the trial of Johann Moore. Moore is the coordinator of the New York City Medical Buyers Club, a small organization that supplies marijuana as a therapeutic agent to seriously ill patients who possess a doctor's recommendation.  He was arrested this past August and charged with one count of felony sales.
        Moore's televised case will present testimony from a number of expert witnesses on the medicinal value of marijuana such as Harvard Medical School Professor and international authority on medical marijuana, NORML board member Dr. Lester Grinspoon, CUNY Medical School Professor and NORML board member Dr. John Morgan, and Dr. Tod Mikuriya.  This will be the first ever televised trail regarding medical marijuana.  The trial is expected to begin in early April.
        For more information on the case of Johann Moore, please contact Cures Not Wars @ (212) 677-4899.  For more information on Cannabis Buyers Clubs, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Update: Charges Dismissed Against North Carolina Medical Marijuana User

        March 15, 1996, Sunny View, NC:  All charges have been dismissed against Jean Marlowe, a medical marijuana user and vocal activist who was facing various drug charges including possession with intent to manufacture a controlled substance after law enforcement agents raided her home and discovered 50 marijuana seedlings.
        Marlowe, who is clinically disabled and admits to using marijuana at least three times a day to obtain therapeutic relief from three orthopedic conditions she suffers, told NORML that she successfully utilized the medical necessity defense.  However, she adds that her fight is still far from over.
        "I [intend] to file suit against both the state and federal government for medical access to marijuana," she said.  "Nobody should have to perform a criminal act to obtain a safe, natural medicine."
        For more information, please contact Jean Marlowe of the Marijuana Relegalization Movement @ (704) 625-2958.

Medical Marijuana User, Quadriplegic Found Guilty Of Trafficking Charges

        March 15, 1996, Oregon, Ohio:  Daniel Asbury, a quadriplegic who grew his own marijuana to alleviate reoccurring pain and muscle spasms, was found guilty of trafficking in marijuana over three times the bulk amount and could face a sentence of up to five years in prison.  Asbury's sentencing will occur on April 18.
        The guilty verdict was a setback for marijuana reform advocates who had hoped to set a legal precedent in Ohio for the medical use of marijuana.  John Hartman, President of Northcoast NORML, notes that the organization flew in NORML Board member and CUNY Medical School Professor Dr. John Morgan to testify as an expert witness on the use of marijuana and pain management.  "For whatever reason, the jury [who found Asbury innocent on charges of cultivation] didn't find Daniel's medical necessity case strong enough to nullify [the trafficking charge,]" Hartman notes.
        Hartman adds that Asbury's defense was made more difficult because Ohio currently provides no medical marijuana defense in its body of established state law.  Therefore, Asbury's defense was basically asking the jury to "find the compassion to rule over the law," Hartman said.
        Asbury suffered a broken neck 15 years ago and began to use marijuana as a therapeutic after prescription drugs proved ineffective at controlling his pain.  Marijuana made me "fe[el] like a human being again," he said.
        For more information on the case of Daniel Asbury, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML @ (216) 521-9333.