NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR THE REFORM OF
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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.
July 18, 1996
USA Today Endorses Access To Medical Marijuana
July 18, 1996, Arlington, VA: USA
Today, the nation's most widely read daily newspaper, has
endorsed access to medical marijuana. The endorsement
stemmed from a USA Today editorial entitled
"Anti-drug focus keeps marijuana from the ill" and came
just two days after the newspaper featured a major article on a
California ballot initiative that would allow seriously ill patients
to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent with a doctor's
Calling marijuana "one of the least toxic medical compounds in the world," the editorial cited both marijuana's relative safety when compared to other legal drugs and medicines and decades of scientific and anecdotal research maintaining its medical efficacy.
"It is entirely possible to fight the drug war without harming innocent civilians in the process," concluded the USA Today. "But lawmakers must be careful to choose the right battles. Therapeutic marijuana isn't one of them."
"The statements made by USA Today in support of medical access to therapeutic marijuana should have a positive impact on America's views toward this issue and may translate into a significant number of votes among California citizens in favor of the Medical Marijuana Initiative," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
For more information, please contact Dave Fratello of Californians for Medical Rights @ (310) 394-2952.
NORML Chapter Places Advertising Billboards On Buses
July 11, 1996, Cleveland, OH:
Several buses of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
will start promoting marijuana law reform thanks to the work of
dedicated local activists. After a year long struggle, the
Northcoast NORML chapter has paid for a three month advertising campaign
to run on the inside and outside of RTA buses.
Northcoast NORML first approached the RTA with their advertising campaign in 1995 at which time the RTA denied the chapter's request because they claimed the public service announcements would promote the illegal use of marijuana. Northcoast NORML refused to accept the RTA's reasoning and brought the issue to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio. After several correspondences between the ACLU and RTA's legal staff, the RTA conceded that NORML's ad was not promoting marijuana use and was political in nature.
According to Northcoast NORML president John Hartman, the chapter's billboards carry two basic messages. The announcement appearing on the tailgate of buses emphasizes the 10 million-plus marijuana arrests that have occurred since 1965 while the billboard displayed on the inside reads: "If you don't care about the people sent to prison for smoking marijuana, at least consider who gets released to make room for them." Hartman adds that the RTA will soon begin displaying prohibitionist billboards to counter Northcoast NORML's message.
Northcoast NORML's billboards began running on area buses this week.
For more information, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML @ (216) 521-9333.
Man Sentenced To Probation
After Killing Individual He Suspected Sold His Son Marijuana
July 1996, Hartsville, TN: A father
was given three year's probation after pleading guilty to killing
the man he suspected of selling marijuana to his teenage
son. The defendant, Dennis Denham, had been indicted for
second degree murder.
Emotions ran high for participants on both sides of the case. At one point, the shooting victim's mother told the court that the defendant could see his children, but added that, "[She has] to go to the cemetery to see [hers.]"
Denham apparently blamed the man for injuries his son sustained in an auto accident while allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana.
"Have we demonized marijuana consumers in this country to such a point that we allow citizens to murder them and get away with it?" questioned NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
Law That Allows Citizens To Sue Drug Dealers
Moves Forward In California
July 1996, Sacramento, CA: The
California state Senate has unanimously approved a sweeping bill
(S.B. 1754) that would allow private parties to sue drug dealers
for damages even if the defendant had nothing to do with the
specific drugs or incident that caused the damage.
Under the Drug Dealer Liability Act, introduced by Sen. Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) and co-sponsored by Attorney General Dan Lungren, drug dealers could be sued in civil court for any damages caused by the same kind of drug elsewhere in the same city or county, regardless of who actually furnished it, using a radical, new "market participation" liability doctrine. For example, under the provisions of a similar law in Michigan, dealers who can be shown to have sold 650 grams of a controlled substance are liable for injuries throughout the state, while those who sold less than 50 grams can be held liable for injuries in the county where the sales occurred.
Those allowed to sue under the California proposal would include: parents or family members of users; employers of users; medical facilities, insurers, or other institutions that fund drug treatment programs; individuals exposed in utero to an illegal substance; and persons injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of an individual substance user.
"It's a way of fighting [drug dealers] by hitting them right in the pocket," said actor Carroll O'Connor, who has lobbied for the measure.
Defendants could be sued if they (1) provided the drug or (2) had "as a pattern" participated in the market for that drug within the same city or county. The latter is defined to mean that they provided the same illicit drug on at least two instances, with at least one conviction. Cultivation of under 25 marijuana plants would not count as an offense.
"When is enough enough?" asked Mark Kappelhoff, legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington, D.C., in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Kappelhoff maintained that adding civil judgments to criminal prosecution and civil forfeiture could be tantamount to constitutionally cruel or unusual punishment or double jeopardy.
The California state assembly is expected to approve the measure by the end of August.
For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.
PBS Special To Focus On Human Rights Violations And The Drug War
July 1996, New York, NY: PBS is
slated to air a half hour broadcast entitled "Human Rights and
the War on Drugs." The show will feature footage from
a public policy forum organized by the Partnership for
Responsible Drug Information (PRDI) -- a New York think tank
intent on fostering open and informed discussion on drug policy
-- as well as interviews with Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, Prison
Life Magazine Editor Richard Stratton, and Jamie Fellner of Human
The segment is scheduled to air during the period of July 18 through July 24.
For more information, please contact the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information @ (212) 362-1964.
ATTENTION: TUNE INTO CNBC'S "AMERICA AFTER HOURS" THIS EVENING AS THE SHOW WILL FOCUS ON THE CALIFORNIA MEDICAL MARIJUANA INITIATIVE. NORML BOARD MEMBERS LESTER GRINSPOON, M.D. AND JOHN MORGAN, M.D. WILL BE FEATURED ALONG WITH ACTIVISTS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA ISSUE.
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 65 SECONDS!