News Release

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May 28, 1998

CMA Backs Removal Of Marijuana From Schedule I
Prohibitive Status

        May 28, 1998, Sacramento, CA:   One of the country's largest state medical associations supports rescheduling marijuana so that researchers may better study the drug's therapeutic value. 
        "Due to the lack of scientific justification for Schedule I classification of marijuana and the consequent virtual standstill in research on its medical benefits, ... we support efforts to reschedule marijuana," the California Medical Association's Board of Trustee's announced last week.  "In addition, the Board support[s] efforts to obtain federal approval for a safe, reliable source of marijuana in California for research."
        The Board also voted to back "federal control over [the] distribution [of marijuana] for medical use in California through closely regulated sources."   
        The CMA joins the American Public Health Association, the Florida Medical Association, the California Nurses Association, the AIDS Action Council, and over 20 other prominent medical groups that presently support rescheduling marijuana.
        The announcement marked a major policy shift for the CMA, which had previously taken the position that more research was needed before making marijuana legally available.
        California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer praised the CMA's decision.  "The CMA has now come to the realization that the federal law is bankrupt," he said.  "It is apparent that the CMA is concerned about the conflict between federal and state law and the lawless manner in which marijuana is distributed now."
        Gieringer also said that the CMA's position may undermine the passage of federal House Resolution 372, a "sense of the House Resolution" stating that "marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug [that] should not be legalized for medical use."  The House will likely debate the issue shortly.
        "I don't know how any California Congressman could support the measure in light of this evidence," Gieringer speculated.
        For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Alice Mead at the California Medical Association @ (415) 541-0900.

NORML, Others Testify Against DEA Marijuana Eradication Program At
Washington, D.C. Hearing

        May 28, 1998, Washington, D.C.:   NORML joined other concerned groups and citizens to testify against the aerial application of herbicides in DEA-sponsored marijuana eradication efforts, at a public hearing yesterday.  The meeting, organized by the Department of Justice, was part of an ongoing review of the "environmental impact" posed by the DEA's use of herbicides, particularly glyphosate, to eliminate wild growing marijuana.  The agency has not conducted such a review since May 1986.
        "The NORML Foundation strongly opposes the aerial directed spraying of herbicides from low flying aircraft for the purpose of eliminating wild growing marijuana plots," Publications Director Paul Armentano told DEA officials.  "After evaluating the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication Suppression Program, we find it misguided, excessively burdensome on taxpayers, counterproductive, and potentially harmful to the health and safety of residents and the environment."
        Armentano cited evidence that the multi-million dollar a year program targets almost entirely nonpsychoactive hemp, and that the aerial use of glyphosate in marijuana eradication efforts is ineffective and environmentally hazardous.
        "This program almost exclusively eradicates ditchweed which presents no threat to public safety," he said.   "In addition, the aerial application of herbicides to eliminate ditchweed poses a demonstrated threat to the general public and wildlife through contamination of ground water, surface water, air and soil, and the elimination of many animals' habitat.   Only in America do federal law enforcement continue to place public safety at risk and our tax dollars to waste eliminating this proven worldwide cash crop."
        Previous forums held in Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, and Atlanta also drew testimony and criticism from drug reform activists and environmentalists. The DEA will review the testimony and include it in the final supplement to the Environmental Impact Statement.
        For more information, please contact Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  Copies of NORML's testimony are available upon request.

S.F. Officials Explore Distributing Medical Marijuana In Wake Of Cannabis Healing
Center's Closure

        May 28, 1998, San Francisco, CA:   City officials seeking alternatives to the state's privately-run medical marijuana dispensaries are promoting plans to distribute the drug through the Department of Public Health.
        "The will is there to put this [issue] in Public Health's court," Supervisor Tom Ammiano said shortly after local law enforcement officials complied with a court order to shut down the city's 9,000 member Cannabis Healing Center.  "We have to make this happen as soon as possible."
        Ammiano said the Board of Supervisors may soon draft legislation to allow the health department to distribute marijuana to city residents who use the drug under their doctor's supervision.  The proposal shares the support of District Attorney Terence Hallinan, who compares the idea to the city's policy of distributing clean hypodermic needles to addicts.  While the latter program violates federal law, Department of Justice officials have not challenged the issue.
        Mitchell Katz, director of the Public Health Department, said his agency is examining the distribution issue.  "We believe that medical marijuana eases suffering and that providing it is a compassionate service," he said.
        City officials will meet today with Mayor Willie Brown's office to debate the issue, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
        For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.

International Drug Reform Coalition Declares "Global Days Against The Drug War"

        May 28, 1998, New York, NY:   More than 90 drug policy reform groups worldwide will participate in the upcoming "Global Days Against the Drug War," a five day series of events beginning on June 5 to be held in response to the United Nations Special Session on Narcotics.   Several groups -- including NORML, the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), Common Sense for Drug Policy, and others -- will host events in over 40 cities to promote alternative drug policies. 
        Participating cities include Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Auckland, New Zealand; Dallas, Texas; London, England; Los Angeles, California; Madrid, Spain; Munich, Germany; New Orleans, Louisiana; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Sidney, Australia; Tuscon, Arizona; Washington, D.C., and Winnipeg, Canada.
        For more information on scheduled events, please contact Adam Smith of DRCNet @ (202) 293-8340 or Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy @ (703) 354-5694.  Additional information is available on-line at: