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

May 2, 1996

White House Unveils New Drug Strategy

        April 29, 1996, Cora Gables, FL:  Amidst a wave of media fanfare, President Clinton and Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey unveiled a new 10-year anti-drug strategy this past Monday in Miami.  The program asks for a record high $15.1 billion budget to initiate a "decade-long commitment" to reduce drug use in America.
        Although both the President and the Drug Czar emphasized that the new strategy is chiefly focused on "motivat[ing] America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse," a comprehensive breakdown of the 1997 budget request illustrates that the plan's largest component remains domestic law enforcement.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the President is requesting $8.3 billion in fiscal year 1997 for domestic enforcement.
        In addition, McCaffrey admitted that the new 1996 Clinton anti-drug strategy is essentially the same as those of previous administrations.  "Everything in this strategy is already being done," he told reporters in Miami.  "I don't think the drug strategy has new tricks in it."
        In a follow-up conference this past Wednesday in Washington, D.C., McCaffrey reiterated this point.  This strategy contains "no sudden surprise attacks," he said.  "[We] recognize that there is no silver bullet."  McCaffrey added that he sees the new approach as a "permanent commitment to young people" and was optimistic that "there is no reason why we can't return America to a ... pre-Vietnam era level of drug use."  When asked by the moderator what he felt about the idea of legalization, McCaffrey called the notion "nonsense."
        "The federal government's war on drugs has risen from a $1.5 billion yearly battle in 1981 to $15.1 billion battle today.  During that time, America has experienced millions of casualties and very few gains," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.  "The Clinton administration's latest proposals are simply an escalation of the same policies that resulted in the arrest of nearly one-half million marijuana smokers in 1994 alone."
        For more information on the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy or the just-released Gallup Poll: A Look at How American's View the Country's Drug Problem, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  For additional information, please contact the Drug Policy Foundation @ (202) 537-5005.

Update: Judge Suspends Sentence Against Quadriplegic
Who Used Marijuana As Medicine

        April 18, 1996, Toledo, OH:  Daniel Asbury, a quadriplegic who grew marijuana to alleviate reoccurring pain and muscle spasms, has been given a two-year suspended sentence by Lucas County Court Judge Ruth Ann Franks.  Asbury, who was found guilty of trafficking in marijuana despite expert testimony by NORML Board member Dr. John Morgan on the use of marijuana and pain management, must now refrain from using cannabis if he wants to stay out of jail.
        "This court does not condone the use of marijuana," Franks said.  "This court has sent people to the penitentiary for using marijuana.  ... But I believe this is a unique case.
        "The evidence is clear that you were using this drug for medicinal purposes."
        However, any further use may land Asbury in jail.  "Essentially, David Asbury's future -- like the futures of the tens of thousands of patients who use marijuana as a medicine -- is limited to two options: suffer in pain or risk arrest and jail," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
        Asbury suffered a broken neck 15 years ago and began to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent after prescription drugs proved ineffective at controlling his pain.  "I need it," Asbury told the court.  "It's the only thing that makes me feel better."
        For more information on the case of Daniel Asbury, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML @ (216) 521-9333.

NORML Chapter's Marijuana Measure To Be Placed On City Ballot

        April 27, 1996, Traverse City, MI:  An initiative put forth by the Traverse City NORML chapter to reduce marijuana penalties has the necessary number of signatures to be placed on the city ballot.  The petition seeks to make possession, use, or sale of less than one ounce of marijuana in Traverse City punishable by a maximum penalty of $100 and up to ten hours of community service for a first-time offender.
        The road to the ballot has been a rocky one for marijuana activists.  Chapter organizers' 1994 initiative drive was rejected by the city commission despite having well over the required number of signatures, because it allegedly conflicted with state law.  This year's petition was devoid of legal problems, but faced severe opposition from city commissioners who in December unanimously passed a resolution asking residents not to sign the petition.
        Bill Bustance, president of the Traverse City NORML Chapter, told local media that he feels that there is a good chance that the measure will be approved by voters.  "We're just asking a simple question," he said.  "We're not asking: 'Are you for marijuana or are you against marijuana? or 'If you're for NORML or against NORML?'  ... We're asking: 'Do you want to throw people in prison at a cost of $30,000 per year or do you want to enact fines and community service that will go directly to the community?"
        For more information, please contact Bill Bustance of Traverse City NORML @ (616) 264-9565.

Update: Cincinnati Buyers Club Founder Pleads Not Guilty To Felony Pot Charges

        April 29, 1996, Covington, KY:  Richard Evans, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Buyers Club -- one of an estimated 30 underground clubs located across the country that supply marijuana as a therapeutic agent to seriously ill patients who possess a physician's recommendation -- pled not guilty on Monday to three felony counts of trafficking marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school in connection with a February raid by law enforcement officers on the club's headquarters.  Evans' home, which is located in close proximity of a school, served as the headquarters for the Cincinnati club.  Evans informed NORML last February that he had two marijuana seedlings growing at the time of the bust.
        "[This case] will have national implications," stated attorney and marijuana activist Gatewood Galbraith, one of three lawyers representing Evans in the case.  "I think the mood of the nation is: Why not let these people have their medication."  Galbraith maintains that he intends to launch a full-scale attack on Kentucky's anti-marijuana laws.
        "The resolution of this case could set an example for all legal treatment of Buyer's Clubs in the future," he said.
        For more information on this case, please contact Richard Evans of Americans for Compassionate Use @ (606) 431-8719.  In addition, Gatewood Galbraith is asking for contributions to help offset expenses associated with bringing in expert witnesses such as NORML Board members Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Dr. John Morgan to testify in this case.  Mr. Galbraith may be contacted via e- mail @: or