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

June 20, 1996

University Of Mississippi Denies Assertion Of California
Narcotics Officers

Researcher Calls Claim Of Over 10,000 Studies Documenting The Harmful Effects Of Marijuana Groundless

        June 12, 1996, University of Mississippi:  A recent claim made by The California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA) that there are over 10,000 studies documenting the harmfulness of marijuana has been flatly denied by University of Mississippi Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.  For the past 25 years, the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences has been collecting national and international technical research papers on marijuana.  The organization is regarded as the most comprehensive federal source of such information available. The CNOA allegation recently appeared in a position paper denouncing the use of marijuana as a medicine and has been espoused by various other prohibitionist organizations.  However, in response to an inquiry by Harvard Professor and NORML board member Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Research Associate Beverly Urbanek said that the University of Mississippi "is totally in the dark as to where the statement that there are 10,000 studies showing the negative impact of marijuana could have originated."  Urbanek attests that the Research Institute does possess a bibliography which includes over 12,000 citations to marijuana, but notes that the total number also includes "papers on the chemistry and botany of the Cannabis plant, cultivation, epidemiological surveys, legal aspects, eradication studies, detection, storage, economic aspects and a whole spectrum of others that do not mention positive or negative effects."
        In conclusion, Urbanek states the following: "We are frequently contacted by various individuals and groups requesting the current number of publications that we have listed in the marijuana bibliography, and we readily give out that information.  ... However, we have never broken down that figure into positive/negative papers, and I would not even venture a guess as to what that number would be."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

DEA Agent Specializes In Stopping Medical Marijuana Efforts

        June 1996, Reading, MA:  DEA agent Steve Morealle says his current duty is " travel the country to stop proposed state-level medical marijuana legislation...," according to statements made in the March edition of Libertarian Party News.  Morealle is the same agent who fell under fire last winter from civil rights proponents for his participation in a rally held outside the offices of Boston radio station WBCN to protest the airplay of the NORML benefit CD, Hempilation.
        In response to Morealle's self-proclaimed job description, Mass/Cann President Bill Downing sent letters to Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Massachusetts ACLU, and Congressman Barney Frank addressing the potential improper use of federal money and authority.  Frank has previously engaged in correspondence with United States Attorney General Janet Reno and DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine over Morealle's actions during the Hempilation protest.
        "The fact that the DEA is using America's tax dollars to fund efforts to effectively suppress any public discourse regarding medical marijuana that differs from their belief that marijuana has no acceptable medical use is highly offensive, if not illegal," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
        Morealle also stated that he is employed to appear at public forums to counter individuals and organizations that the DEA considers to be leading advocates of marijuana decriminalization.  Morealle said that NORML is the main force his organization must counter.
        "I'm touched that the DEA feels they must employ special agents to counter NORML's position," said St. Pierre.  "However, it's unfortunate that American taxpayers must pay the cost of such nonsense."
        For more information, please contact Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML @ (617) 944-CANN or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Conference Gathers Experts To Explore Marijuana's Medicinal Value

        June 16, 1996, Dennis, Massachusetts:  Scientists and medical experts from around the world recently gathered at a conference to learn more about marijuana's various medicinal properties.  It is the belief of the attendees that chemical compounds found in marijuana promise to ease the symptoms of glaucoma, the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS, spastic disorders, the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy, arthritis -- and most dramatically -- severe brain injury.  While both NORML and a variety of scientific researchers have endorsed cannabis' therapeutic properties for several years, the possibility that marijuana may have medical utility in the treatment of head trauma is a relatively new concept.
        Esther Shohami, a senior lecturer in the department of pharmacology at Hebrew University in Israel, stated that animal and other tests of a synthetic compound called Dexanabinol seem to reduce the impact of brain trauma, such as that suffered in car accidents.  Shohami said that less paralysis and memory damage occurs if patients are administered the cannabinoid compound.  The patient's improvement is "not marginal.  It's significant," she asserted.
        Conference speakers also addressed the effectiveness of Marinol -- a THC-based synthetic drug occasionally prescribed for easing nausea in cancer patients. Many researchers noted that whole cannabis could be more effective than Marinol because there exists many medicinal properties in cannabis other than THC.
        Two members of NORML's Board of Directors, Dr. John P. Morgan of CUNY Medical School and Dr. Lynn Zimmer of Queens College in New York attended the symposium.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Legal Medical Marijuana Patients, Proponents Speak Before
American Nurses Association

        June 17, 1996, Washington, D.C.:  Activists for medical marijuana, including Barbara Douglas and Irv Rosenfeld -- two of the eight remaining legal marijuana patients -- and Mary Lynn Mathre, RN of the cannabis reform organization Patients Out of Time, recently spoke at the Centennial Conference of the American Nurses Association (ANA) in Washington, D.C.  Their presentation, entitled "Therapeutic Cannabis and the Law: Ethical Dilemma for Nurses," was received "incredibly well" by the numerous health-care professionals in attendance.  Activists note that no members of the ANA mounted any vocal opposition to the theme of the presentation.
        "Our goal is to reach people on a national level and we did," said Al Byrne of Patients Out of Time.  Byrne told NORML that he was encouraged by the positive response and hopes that the ANA will someday answer the requests of the Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, and New York State Nurses Associations by calling for the immediate end to the prohibition of therapeutic cannabis.
        Patients Out of Time is a grassroots organization comprised of patients, those who love them, and health care professionals who believe that the time has come for widescale medical access to cannabis.
        For more information, please contact Al Byrne of Patients Out Of Time @ (804) 263-4484 or write to: 1472 Fish Pond Rd., Howardsville, VA 24562.