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. . . a weekly service for the media on news items related to marijuana prohibition.

June 26, 1997

Millions Of Taxpayer Dollars To Be Used To Fund Local
Anti-Drug Groups

          June 26, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  Locally based anti-drug groups such as CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) and PRIDE (National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education) can expect a major increase in federal funding thanks to legislation approved by Congress on June 20.
          H.R. 956, the "Drug-Free Communities Act," authorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to appropriate $143,500,000 over five years to community-based anti-drug groups that "demonstrate a comprehensive, long term commitment to reduce substance abuse among youth."  Rep. Bob Portman (R-Ohio), sponsor of the measure and a CADCA board member, described the bill as "a fundamentally different approach to addressing the nation's drug crisis."  The legislation now awaits President Bill Clinton's signature.
          Ironically, the measure's supporters cite conflicting findings as endorsements for the legislation.  Section 1021 states that, "Substance abuse among youth has more than doubled in the five-year period preceding 1996, with substantial increases in the use of marijuana, inhalants, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and heroin."  Conversely, the bill later states that, "Community anti-drug coalitions throughout the United States are successfully developing and implementing comprehensive, long-term strategies to reduce substance abuse among youth on a sustained basis."  NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. questioned this apparent conflict.
          "How can Congress claim that local anti-drug coalitions are successfully combating youth drug use while also maintaining that youth drug use has significantly increased every year since 1991?" Stroup asked.  "The age group experiencing the greatest increase in drug use is the same group that has been subject to the most comprehensive anti-drug education campaign in our nation's history.  Unfortunately, that campaign -- based primarily on lies and exaggerations regarding the potential dangers of marijuana -- is totally ineffective."
          Stroup also reinforced NORML's opposition to adolescent drug use.  "NORML opposes the use of marijuana, or other drugs including alcohol and tobacco, by adolescents.  NORML remains committed to the notion that adolescents should grow up drug-free.  However, NORML also opposes legislation that would designate taxpayers dollars into the hands of propaganda groups that have failed to demonstrate success at preventing adolescent drug use."
          For more information, please contact either R. Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  For more information on community-based anti-drug coalitions, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

(Meanwhile) Drug Czar Announces Youth Drug Use Still On The Rise,
Advocates More Funding

          June 26, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  Highlights from a semi-annual White House report on drug use trends indicate that adolescent drug use remains on the rise, announced Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey at a Tuesday press conference.  The full report, Pulse Check: National Trends in Drug Abuse, will be released this summer.
          McCaffrey used the forum to encourage Congress to approve a proposed $175 million dollar anti-drug media campaign aimed at adolescents.  The money would pay for the purchase of broadcast, print, billboard, and Internet messages designed to keep adolescents away from drugs.  The Clinton administration estimates that the campaign will reach 90 percent of all youths aged 9 to 17 with an anti-drug message at least four times a week.
          McCaffrey confirmed that the federally supported media campaign will not target alcohol and tobacco use by young people despite evidence that adolescents consume both drugs at far higher levels than they do marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug by youngsters.
          The Drug Czar also announced that his office will put out a $400,000 contract to develop a more comprehensive anti-drug campaign on the Internet.  The announcement came just days after The New York Times featured a front page story entitled: "A Drug Culture Flourishes on the Internet."  The article alleged that drug-tolerant messages on the Internet are undercutting the Government's anti-drug policies.
          Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, responded that almost every federal health agency and anti-drug organization such as The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), and others already have Internet capability and active websites.  "This appropriation is yet another example of gross government excess in the War on Drugs," he said.
          For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Sweeping Drug Testing Bill Passed By The Louisiana Legislature

          June 26, 1997, Baton Rouge, LA:  The state Legislature approved sweeping legislation on June 21 that would mandate welfare recipients and others to submit to drug tests.  The measure now awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Foster who is a proponent of wide-scale drug testing.
          House Bill 2435, introduced by Rep. Heulette "Clo" Fontenot (R-Livingston), requires drug testing for virtually all residents receiving moneys from the state, including welfare recipients and individuals who enter into contracts with the state to provide goods and services.  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spokeswoman Martha Kegel, who argued against the bill, said that no other state in the nation has implemented such a program and estimated that the policy could cost Louisiana taxpayers millions of dollars.
          The legislation requires individuals in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant Program to undergo mandatory drug testing.  Participants who test positive for illicit drugs on one occasion must complete a drug rehabilitation program.  Individuals who test positive a second time will no longer be eligible to receive state entitlements.
          "This bill ... subject[s] ... impoverished people to the indignity and gross invasion of privacy of having to urinate in a jar as a condition of getting the assistance that they need," Kegel said.
          The bill also requires random drug testing for "all persons who receive anything of economic value or receive funding from the state."  Individuals who refuse to comply with the policy or who test positive for an illegal drug on more than one occasion shall be subject to "termination, removal, or loss of the contract or loan."
          "There is little evidence indicating that this policy is either necessary or legal," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.  Stroup noted that the Supreme Court recently struck down a Georgia drug testing statute because the state failed to demonstrate a "special need" substantial enough to override Constitutional protections granted by the Fourth Amendment.  Stroup speculated that a similar court challenge could strike down Louisiana's measure.
          Backers of the measure alleged that a "state of emergency" exists in Louisiana because of illicit drug use.
          For more information, please contact either attorney William Rittenberg of the NORML Legal Committee @ (504) 524-5555 or R. Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.