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

October 24, 1996

American Nurses Association Reviews Medical Marijuana

        October 24, 1996, Washington, D.C.:  The Congress of Nursing Practice recently approved two motions regarding the use of marijuana as a medicine.  The Congress agreed to: A) "Support education for RNs regarding current evidence based therapeutic uses of cannabis," and B) "Support investigation of therapeutic efficacy of cannabis in controlled trials."  These recommendations will be included in a report from the Congress to the American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors at their next scheduled meeting.
        The Congress took up the issue of medical marijuana following a presentation at the Centennial Conference of the American Nurses Association by two of the eight legal marijuana patients in support of the drug's therapeutic value.  The Congress also reviewed a position paper submitted by the Virginia Nurses Association entitled "Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis," but failed to issue a position statement on that issue.
        Nevertheless, Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, of Patients Out Of Time said that the Congress' twofold motion "is a de facto statement by the ANA that marijuana has medical value; a way of showing support for similar resolutions passed by other U.S. health care organizations; and should be recognized by the U.S. government as a polite way of calling for the denial of marijuana as medicine for the sick and dying as illogical."  Mathre notes that state nursing associations of Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, New York, and California have endorsed the use of marijuana as a medicine.
        Patients Out of Time is a non-profit organization comprised of five of the eight legal marijuana patients in the United States and various health care professionals.
        For more information, please contact Mary Lynn Mathre of Patients Out of Time @ (804) 263-4484 or write to: 1472 Fish Pond Rd., Howardsville, VA 24562.

Iowa Man Faces Prison Term For Using Marijuana To Ease Pain

        October 24, 1996, Waterloo, IA:  An Iowa man is facing prison for using marijuana to relieve the symptoms of chronic pain syndrome and fibromyalgia, a painful muscle disorder.  On Monday, October 28, the Black Hawk County District Court will decide whether to revoke his probation for refusing to stop smoking marijuana.
        Allen Helmers sustained a broken back in a 1983 car accident and was injured again in 1994 after being struck by a drunken driver.  Six months before the second accident, police seized three ounces of marijuana from Helmers' home.  He was placed on probation for 2 to 5 years under intensive supervision and fined $1,800.
        Helmers says that the pain he suffers daily makes it necessary that he use marijuana.  Helmers' doctor, W. H. Verdyne, agrees.  "Chronic neurological pain responds well to the medicinal use of marijuana ... causing much less side effects than the standard pain medications," Verdyne said.  He notes that routine medications have been unsuccessful in managing Helmers' pain.
        "The state of Iowa gave Allen a criminal conviction for possession of marijuana, and now they want to revoke his probation because he refuses to stop smoking it," said Carl Olsen of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, who organized a protest on Helmers' behalf earlier this month.  "The state of Iowa has the law on its side.  We have love and compassion.  The law must change."
        For more information, please contact Allen Helmers @ (319) 233-1336 or Carl Olsen of Iowans for Medical Marijuana @ (515) 288-5798.  Olsen may also be contacted via the Internet at:

Clinton Proposes Drug Testing Teenage Applicants For Driver's Licenses

        October 19, 1996, Washington, D.C.:  President Clinton proposed a new federal mandate on Saturday to require teenagers to pass a drug test before receiving a driver's license.
        Stating that a driver's license is a "privilege that should not be available to those who fail to demonstrate responsible behavior," Clinton directed the Office of National Drug Control Policy to come up with a strategy to implement nationwide drug testing for all teen applicants.  Clinton said that he hoped the "90 percent [of adolescents] who are drug-free" would participate in the program willingly.
        "We're already saying to teens if you drink you aren't allowed to drive.  Now we should say that teens should pass a drug test as a condition of getting a driver's license.  Our message should be simple: No drugs or no driver's license."
        Clinton's announcement drew harsh criticism from civil libertarians.
        "Once again we see civil liberties being pulverized by the political posturing of the president," charged Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne.  "Once again, we see millions of Americans having to prove their innocence to government bureaucrats.  ... Once again, we see the 'War on Drugs' being used as an excuse to give the federal government more power."
        Arthur Spitzer, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) District of Columbia branch, said the move was an example of "this drug mania gone crazy."  He said the organization would consider mounting a legal challenge.
        It is not yet known whether Clinton's proposal, if implemented, would be in violation of Constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.  Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled that high school athletes could be randomly drug tested regardless of individualized suspicion.
        "Mandatory drug testing is an affront to human dignity, and it's making a mockery of the United States Constitution," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.  "Clinton's latest proposal is ill conceived and unjustly labels an entire generation as suspected drug users."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.  The ACLU may be contacted @ (202) 544-1681.

California Man Fired From Job After Charged With Growing Marijuana

        October 24, 1996, Santa Rosa, CA:  An epileptic charged with marijuana cultivation this past August was suddenly dismissed from his two caregiver jobs.  Alan Martinez of Santa Rosa maintains that he grows and uses marijuana as a medicine and plans to raise a medical necessity defense in court.  He notes that individuals like himself, if they possess a physicians recommendation, would have an exemption under the law if Proposition 215 passes this November.
        Martinez worked for eight years as a well respected caregiver until his arrest this summer.  He believes that the media attention that surrounded his plea of "not guilty" and request for a trial to prove his medical necessity has caused his employers to fire him without notice.
        "I don't know what I'll do for money, but I know I will be acquitted and my name will be cleared," said Martinez.  "I did not expect all the uproar, but I will not back down.  This is a matter of my life and my health.  I hope no other patients have to go through this."
        A rally in support of Alan Martinez and his caregiver, Jason Miller, is scheduled for 12 noon in front of the Santa Rosa Court House on Tuesday, October 29.
        For more information, please contact Lynnette Shaw of the Marin-Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana @ (415) 256-9328 or NORML Legal Committee member William Panzer, Esq. @ (510) 834-1892.  Alan Martinez may be contacted @ (707) 526-9842.

ATTN:  NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre will debate a representative from Communities Against Drug Abuse (CADA) about Proposition 215 on C-Span's Wahington Journal this Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.  Also on the program will appear San Francisco Examiner reporter Laura Krieger.  Ms. Kreiger will have a feature-length cover story on Proposition 215 in the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Examiner.