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

August 14, 1997

Activist Loses Challenge To Have Marijuana Removed From The
Canadian Criminal Code

          August 14, 1997, London, Ontario:  Canadian marijuana activist and business owner Chris Clay lost his bid to strike down federal laws outlawing the use of marijuana.  Clay launched his constutitional challenge with the assistance of Toronto law professor Alan Young and attorney Paul Burstein after law enforcement officials raided his retail store in London, Ontario in December 1996 for selling non-sterilized marijuana seeds.
          Clay challenged the validity of Canada's present laws outlawing marijuana on several grounds.  Citing a 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision affirming a woman's right to an abortion, he argued that Canadians have a right to make autonomous decisions with respect to their bodily integrity and security.  Clay also relied on a 1975 Alaskan Supreme Court decision asserting that an individual's right to privacy embodied the right to cultivate small amounts of marijuana in one's home.  He further argued that the current law is overly vague, and that it is arbitrary for Parliament to criminalize conduct which is relatively harmless.
          The case was decided late Thursday afternoon.
          For more information, please contact attorney Paul Burstein @ (416) 204-1825 or visit the Hemp Nation website at: www.hempnation.com.

NIH Report Supports Marijuana's Medical Potential,
Recommends Future Trials

          August 14, 1997, Washington, DC:  Marijuana has therapeutic potential in the treatment of many serious illnesses including AIDS wasting syndrome, spasticity disorders, and glaucoma, and future scientific trials should be funded by the federal government, said a report released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on August 8.
          NIH experts agreed that marijuana "looks promising enough to recommend that there be new controlled studies done."  Panelists insisted that future trials should not hold marijuana to higher scientific standards than those applied to other medications or required by law.  The report also noted that there are patients "for whom the inhalation route might offer advantages over the currently available capsule formulation."
          NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. praised the panelists findings, but warned that previous calls for research have gone unanswered by federal health organizations.  "The National Academy of Sciences issued similar recommendations in 1982," Stroup explained.  "Unfortunately, the federal government failed to act on their findings."  Presently, research protocols to examine marijuana's therapeutic value in the treatment of the AIDS wasting syndrome and acute migraines are awaiting NIH approval.
          Stroup also said that calls for future research must in no way preclude seriously ill patients from using marijuana medicinally in states that already allow for its therapeutic use.  "A lack of conclusive scientific evidence in this area does not warrant arresting patients who are currently using marijuana medicinally nor does it justify harassing doctors who wish to recommend or prescribe marijuana in compliance with state law."
          White House spokesman Mike McCurry told the Associated Press that the administration continues to oppose the use of marijuana to treat sick people.  Earlier this year, Clinton administration officials threatened to arrest doctors who recommend or prescribe marijuana in accordance with state law.
          "The NIH report is a step in the right direction, but provides little protection to those thousands of seriously ill patients already using medical marijuana," summarized Stroup.  He added that health officials gave no explanation as to why the report was delayed for more than four months.
          For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

New England Journal Of Medicine Opines For Immediate Legal Access
To Medical Marijuana

          August 14, 1997:  For the second time this year, the highly acclaimed New England Journal of Medicine, argued for the medicinal use of marijuana.  Just one day prior to the release of an NIH report recommending future medical marijuana trials, an article by George Annas in the August 7 edition of the magazine demanded that seriously ill patients have legal access to marijuana.  Annas is a professor at Boston University's School of Medicine.
          The following excerpt is taken from the "Conclusions" of that article.

          "Doctors are not the enemy in the 'war' on drugs; ignorance and hypocrisy are.  Research should go on, and while it does, marijuana should be available to all patients who need it to help them undergo treatment for life-threatening illnesses. [Emphasis added. -ed.]  There is certainly sufficient evidence to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug.  ...Marijuana is not claimed to be a treatment in itself; instead it is used to help patients withstand the effect of accepted treatment that can lead to a cure or amelioration of their condition.  As long as therapy is safe and has not been proven ineffective, seriously ill patients (and their physicians) should have access to whatever they need to fight for their lives."