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

September 5, 1996

Drug Czar Says He Welcomes NORML's Participation In Drug Debate

        September 5, 1996, Washington D.C.:  Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey said that he welcomed NORML's involvement in the national debate over drug policy, while speaking on National Public Radio.
        NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. immediately responded to the invitation and delivered a written acceptance stating that the organization would be ready and willing to meet with McCaffrey in either a private meeting or as part of an appropriate forum.
        "We hereby request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns with the administration's current drug policy," announced Stroup.  "Although we clearly do not agree on many issues, there may well be some areas, such as adolescent marijuana smoking, in which we can work cooperatively to achieve a common goal."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Senate Holds Special Hearing On Teen Drug Use

        September 4, 1996, Washington, D.C.:  In wake of a Department of Health and Human Services report indicating that monthly use of illicit substances has doubled among adolescents since 1992, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a special hearing to examine the issue.
        Speaking before the committee were Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and John Walters.  All agreed that programs to reverse current trends in teen drug use must focus on 1) tougher drug penalties for adult users; 2) a clear and concise message that use of any illicit substance is wrong; and 3) increased federal spending on youth education programs such as DARE.
        "What both the speakers and senators neglected to mention is that none of these options have been effective in reducing teen drug use," stated NORML Publications Director Paul Armentano, who attended the hearing.  "Today's graduating seniors are the first generation of adolescents who were exposed to the most massive, consistent, and expensive federal anti-drug campaign ever launched.  They grew up listening to DARE officers in the classroom and public service announcements from the Partnership for a Drug Free America when they came home; yet the statistics indicate that they are using drugs at far higher rates than were their predecessors just four and five years ago.
        "In addition, more drug offenders are being arrested and incarcerated for longer periods of time than ever before in our nation's history.  Clearly, this problem requires more than the standard Washington rhetoric."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

California Re-Enacts Temporary "Smoke A Joint, Lose Your License" Bill

        September 3, 1996, Sacramento, CA:  Minutes before its post-midnight adjournment, the California State Senate enacted a temporary, emergency "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" bill.  The decision surprised many who noted that the Senate had turned down a similar measure earlier in the day.
        The legislation was passed at the insistence of Gov. Pete Wilson, a long-time advocate of the federal mandate.  The law requires a six-month driver's license suspension for all drug offenses, regardless of whether they are driving-related.
        State Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer is said to have reluctantly agreed to the measure as a means of guaranteeing federal highway aid.  Under federal law, California must be in compliance as of October 1, 1996 or else lose $100 million in highway funding.  The bill was passed as an emergency measure so as to take effect immediately upon the Governor's signature.
        In deference to opponents, the new law is set to expire within six months.  This will set the stage for another "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" battle next year.
        "Gov. Wilson's insistence on this foolish federal mandate is one more costly example of Republican anti-drug hypocrisy," said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.  "It's clearly absurd for the government to take [your] driver's license away for possessing a joint in your home, yet not for speeding and reckless driving with a bottle in your car."
        For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.

Marijuana Activists Arrested On Trespassing Charges
After Being Banned From Attending Public Rally

        September 1996, Columbus, NC:  A North Carolina couple were arrested and charged with trespassing by the Polk County Sheriff's Department after attending a public rally to promote medicinal marijuana in front of the county courthouse.
        Although both Steve and Jean Marlowe were involved in organizing the event, billed as the Second Annual Freedom Rally, Mr. Marlowe had been told by county officials that he was forbidden from attending because of allegations he smoked marijuana at last year's festival.  Marlowe was arrested on charges of marijuana possession after last year's event, but the case is still pending.
        Jean Marlowe argues that the recent arrest was in violation of their civil liberties and the couple plans on pursuing legal action against the county.  "County council says they can set their own rules, but they can't violate your rights," she said.  "They can't forbid you to attend a rally."
        Philadelphia attorney Lawrence Hirsch has agreed to take the case on behalf of the Marlowes and called the suit a matter of principle.  "To me, every step of the way, [the county] seem to be creating a case that's bound to blow up in there face," he said.
        In 1995, NORML and the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil rights lawsuit against an Anaheim ordinance that prohibited certain prior drug offenders from the right to use public parks for lawful purposes.  NORML eventually prevailed in the challenge.
        For more information, please contact Steve and Jean Marlowe of the Marijuana Relegalization Movement @ (704) 625-2958.

Juror Held In Contempt After Refusing To Convict Drug Offender

        September 1996, Gilpin County, CO:  A juror who maintains that she had "reasonable doubt" regarding the guilt of a drug defendant could face over six months in prison and an unspecified fine after being cited by Gilpin County Judge Kenneth Barnhill for contempt of court.
        Laura Kriho is scheduled to begin a jury trial in late September to defend herself against allegations that she tainted a jury in the case of a 19 year-old female defendant charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.  According to Barnhill, Kriho allegedly disobeyed a court order by discussing sentences in her deliberations.  Kriho insisted that she ultimately voted to acquit because she had reasonable doubts as to the defendant's guilt based on the facts of the case as presented by the prosecution.
        Barnhill also alleged that Kriho committed perjury by lying under oath to the Judge and the attorneys by failing to volunteer information regarding a prior drug conviction from 1984.  Kriho argued that she was never specifically asked about her criminal history and notes that she received a deferred sentence for the 1984 conviction.
        "I tried to do my job as a juror well," Kriho said.  "I had never been on a jury before, and the whole experience was unique and very stressful.  Now I feel I am being unfairly singled-out and punished for coming up with the 'wrong' verdict."
        Attorney Paul Grant, who is representing Kriho in this case, warned that the prosecution of his client threatens to undermine the jury system.  "Jurors must be able to deliberate independently of the judge, without the threat of criminal prosecution hanging over their heads," he stated.
        For more information, please contact Attorney Paul Grant @ (303) 841-9649 or e-mail:  Those wishing to donate money for Laura Kriho's defense fund may write to: Laura Kriho Defense Fund c/o Paul Grant, P.O. Box 1272, Parker, CO 80134.