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

June 6, 1996

"Cheers" Star Plants Hemp In Kentucky ... And Pays The Price
Harrelson Hopes To Challenge Federal Law By Act Of Civil Disobedience

        June 1, 1996, Lexington, KY:  Hemp activist and noted Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson was arrested and charged with cultivation of fewer than five marijuana plants after he brazenly planted four seeds of industrial hemp in full view of Lee County Sheriff William Kilburn.  The planting and subsequent arrest are part of an orchestrated protest by Harrelson to challenge the continued prohibition of industrial hemp.  Harrelson expects to be found guilty of the misdemeanor charge and intends to appeal because current law makes no distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp.
        "The [law prohibiting hemp cultivation] is overly broad," explained Burl McCoy, a Lexington attorney who was on hand to represent the actor.  "There is no rational basis for the statute."
        In a June 5 press release, the famed actor of both television and film explained his actions.
        "I am not one to go out of my way to get arrested.  But in this case, I thought it was important for me to take that step in order to demonstrate the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
        "Industrial hemp, like the four certified seeds I planted, was first grown in Kentucky two hundred and fifty years ago.  It is currently grown in other countries across the globe, including France, England, Canada, Australia, China, Hungary, and the Ukraine.  Industrial hemp has very little THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. [Therefore,] it cannot be used as a drug.  None of the countries that allow industrial hemp production have experienced any problems relating to the crop.
        "Industrial hemp is very clean and easy to grow.  It is one of the most environmentally sound sources of industrial fiber in the world.  ... Environmentally friendly detergents, plastics, paints, varnishes, cosmetics, and textiles are already being made from it in Europe.  ... Industrial hemp can meet our fiber needs while also revitalizing our struggling rural economies.
        "Congress never intended to make legitimate industrial hemp farming the same as marijuana cultivation.  I planted industrial hemp and got arrested because someone must highlight this difference and in order to truly know the law, one must test the law.  I think it is time for all of us to make a stand ... for environmentally friendly, rural economic development.  If the people lead the leaders will follow."
        Harrelson, who is part owner of The Hempstead Company -- one of the largest hemp clothing companies in the nation -- notes that he intends to plant hemp in additional states to further challenge the laws.
        For more information, please contact the office of Simon Halls @ (212) 957-0707 or the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) @ (303) 784-5632.  Press releases regarding Harrelson's arrest are available on the Internet at The Hempstead Company website.  Their website may be linked from the Hemp Industries Association homepage @:

Majority Of Police Chiefs Admit That War On Drugs Is Unsuccessful

        June 1996, Washington, D.C.:  Sixty percent of police chiefs nationwide admit that police and other law enforcement agencies have been unsuccessful in reducing the drug problem in the United States and an overwhelming majority (85 percent) call for major changes in the way America deals with drug use, according to a joint study conducted by the Police Foundation and Drug Strategies -- a Washington D.C. based organization that advocates a more balanced approach to fighting drugs.
        "Police Chiefs want to see a balanced approach," Police Foundation President Hubert Williams recently told the Law Enforcement News in response to the report.  "They recognize that a narrow strategy directed down a single corridor will not work."  More than 300 police chiefs from around the country participated in the study.
        The report's key findings are as follows:
        * Only 15 percent of the police chiefs polled say punishment would be more effective than education, interdiction, or treatment in controlling drug problems; only 10 percent of chiefs who have served in a narcotics division choose punishment over the other options.
        * Nearly three-fourths say that mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession have been only somewhat effective or not really the answer to drug trafficking in their communities; only 21 percent say mandatory sentences have been very or fairly effective.
        * Only 28 percent regard low conviction rates, either for dealers or users, as key limitations in their ability to deal with drugs in their communities.
        * By two to one, police chiefs say that putting drug users in court-supervised treatment programs (59 percent) is more effective than prison or jail time (28 percent).
        * Only three percent believe that current efforts by law enforcement have been very successful in reducing the drug problem in the United States.
        "The findings of the Police Foundation and Drug Strategies demonstrate that the majority of our nation's police chiefs who are on the front lines of the 'War on Drugs' do not favor the 'get-tough' approaches against drug users that are so often heralded by our political leaders and supported by the American public," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
        For more information, please contact Drug Strategies @ (202) 663-6090.

Small Town Mayor Claims She Was Unaware That Growing Marijuana Was Illegal

        May 29, 1996, Copperhill, TN:  Copperhill Mayor Janelle Kimsey admits that she grew marijuana, but argues that she was unaware that growing marijuana for "educational purposes" was illegal.  The rural-town mayor was recently found growing ten marijuana plants on her porch and may be indicted on charges of marijuana cultivation.
        "There may be a perfectly good explanation for this, but at this point we haven't found it," stated Polk County Sheriff Bill Davis.
        In her defense, the two-term mayor claims she was guilty of nothing more than ignorance.  "We made a drug bust a couple of months ago, and the citizens wanted to know what [marijuana] looked like," said the mayor, adding that she planned to take the full grown plants to the police department to be used as a display.  "I didn't know it was illegal to grow it for educational purposes."
        Kimsey also maintains that she intended to use the plants to train the city's drug sniffing dog to sniff out cannabis.  When asked why she was growing so many plants, the mayor responded that she thought several plants were needed so that she could choose the best quality.
        "I know ignorance is no excuse, but in my case, it was ignorance," she remarked.
        Although Kimsey has not been arrested, her case will be taken before the Polk County grand jury on July 1.  The 10 marijuana plants were confiscated by police.

Charges Dropped Against California Medical Marijuana User

        June 5, 1996, Toulomne County, CA:  Marijuana possession charges were dropped yesterday against Barbara Sloniker, a cancer patient who uses cannabis medicinally to ease her pain.  "The six-month battle was hurtful and draining at times ... but I am not angry at anyone," says Sloniker, who was informed in 1994 that she had at best a 20 percent chance of living through the chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  "Anger would kill me."
        An activist as well as a patient, Sloniker intends to spend the summer educating California voters about the need for medical marijuana and encouraging citizens to vote "yes" this November for an initiative to allow patients to use marijuana as a medicine without fear of repercussion from law enforcement.  "All of us who can need to speak up now," she said.