News Release

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April 30, 1996

Colorado Legislature Okays Resolution Rejecting Efforts to Legalize
Medical Marijuana

        April 30, 1998, Denver, CO:   The Colorado Legislature approved a resolution on Tuesday opposing any efforts to exempt seriously ill patients who use marijuana medically from criminal penalties.   The measure -- House Joint Resolution 1042 -- further mandates the Legislature to reject any information provided to the general public demonstrating that marijuana has medical utility.
        "This is an incredibly close-minded and mean-spirited resolution that fails to consider the scientific evidence and disregards the pain and suffering experienced by thousands of seriously ill patients who only find therapeutic relief from marijuana," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.  He noted that the state's own nursing association supports legal access to medical marijuana.
        "The Colorado Nurses' Association recognize[s] the therapeutic use of cannabis [and] support[s] efforts to end federal policies which prohibit or unnecessarily restrict marijuana's legal availability for legitimate health care uses," the agency resolved in 1995.  "Marijuana must be placed in a less restrictive Schedule and made available to patients who may benefit from its use."
        Ironically, the Legislature is a former supporter of the use of medical marijuana by the seriously ill.  House Bill 1042, enacted in 1979, allowed qualified patients to use marijuana medically if they suffered from cancer or glaucoma.  The legislature repealed the measure in 1995.
        The Legislature's latest action comes at the same time voters await the opportunity to decide whether to legalize marijuana for those patients who use it under the supervision of their physician.  Petitioners Coloradans for Medical Rights are presently gathering signatures for an initiative to allow patients suffering from a "debilitating medical condition" and holding a state-issued identification card to legally possess up to two ounces of marijuana.  Petitioners must collect approximately 55,000 signatures from registered voters by August 3 to place the proposal on the November ballot.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Marty Chilcutt of Coloradans for Medical Rights @ (303) 861-4224.  For a directory of medical organizations supporting legal access to medical marijuana, please contact Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Former Marijuana Smokers Denied Entrance to the U.S., Canadian Paper Reports

        April 29, 1998, Ottawa, Canada:   American immigration inspectors are refusing to allow Canadians who admit they once smoked marijuana to enter the U.S., The Ottawa Citizen reported on April 23.   The paper revealed that Canadians who tell U.S. border officials the truth about their past use of marijuana will be denied entry to America indefinitely.
        Calgary lawyer Michael Green, who is national secretary of the Canadian Bar Association's immigration and citizenship section, said that American immigration inspectors have taken a "gatekeeper approach" that includes asking about one's marijuana history.  Green criticized the policy, which he said began last April, arguing that the same strict adherence to the law by Canadian inspectors would prohibit President Bill Clinton from entering their country.
        "Canadian officers are specifically trained not to ask that question because if we did ask, possibly half your population under 50 would be inadmissible to the country," he said.
        Admissions of marijuana use are entered into U.S. records and will result in future denials by inspectors, The Citizen reported.   Those who admit to marijuana use may only enter the U.S. if they obtain a waiver from the immigration service.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Tanya Kangas, Esq. of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Judge Rules Cannabis Healing Center Can Stay Open

        April 30, 1998, San Francisco, CA:   A Superior Court judge yesterday rejected California Attorney General Dan Lungren's request to immediately close San Francisco's newly renamed medical marijuana dispensary, the Cannabis Healing Center.  The judge ruled that the state failed to present sufficient evidence that the club was engaging in illegal activity.
        "I'm delighted," said 79-year-old Hazel Rogers, the club's new director.  "It will give us some breathing room and allow us ... to serve our thousands of sick and dying patients."
        Judge William Cahill will hear evidence from both sides of the issue at a new hearing in June.
        "We're saving lives," explained Rogers, who took over for former club director Dennis Peron last week.  "We will be happy to go to court and show Judge Cahill how important it is for us to be here relieving pain and suffering."
        Attorney J. David Nick, who represents the club, argued that Rogers is a legally authorized "caregiver" to the estimated 500 patients who visit the center each day and require medical marijuana. 
        Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge David Garcia granted an injunction calling for the closure of the city's largest dispensary -- then named the San Francisco Cultivators Club -- after finding evidence that it supplied medical marijuana to other clubs.  Rogers said that the Healing Center only provides medical marijuana to individualized patients who possess a doctor's recommendation.
        "Our patients, and there must be 9,000 of them, if they don't have this place for them to get legal medical marijuana they'll have to become criminals, or at least take chances and do it out on the street," Rogers said.
        For more information, please contact either Tanya Kangas, Esq. of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.  To contact Californians for Compassionate Use, please call (415) 621-3986.

Minnesota Governor Vetoes Hemp Research Bill

        April 29, 1998, Minneapolis, MN:   Governor Arne Carlson (R) vetoed legislation that would have authorized the University of Minnesota to study the "feasibility of industrial hemp production."  The legislation previously passed the Senate by a vote of 59-1 and the House by a vote of 68-64.
        "It is unfortunate that political leaders continue to allow 'reefer madness' to cloud their judgment on what is clearly an agricultural issue," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation.  "It is ironic that this veto comes at a time when farmers in Canada are growing commercial quantities of hemp for the first time in over 50 years."  
        The bill would have also authorized "field demonstration projects using experimental plots as part of the study to develop optimal agricultural practices for growing hemp in Minnesota."  St. Pierre noted that there already exists ample evidence that hemp is a feasible crop in the state.   Citing 1996 figures from the Drug Enforcement Administration's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, he said that 98 percent of the four million marijuana plants seized by law enforcement in Minnesota were wild growing marijuana.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.