News Release

1001 Connecticut Ave, NW - Ste 710 - Washington, DC 20036
Tel. 202.483.8751 - Fax 202.483.0057 - E-mail - Internet

July 30, 1998

MS Patients To Receive Whole Smoked Marijuana In English Trials

        July 30, 1998, London, England:   Clinical trials set to take place in England will examine the therapeutic effects of whole smoked marijuana on multiple sclerosis patients, a London researcher told a House of Lords select committee Tuesday.
        Dr. Geoffrey Guy, chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals, said that he hopes to begin administering marijuana to human subjects shortly.  Guy received permission from the federal government in June to grow marijuana for medical research purposes.  He said he hopes to license the drug as a legal medicine within five years.
        Guy said that several patients with MS report their spasticity improves after smoking marijuana, and discouraged efforts to synthesize medicinal compounds in the plant.  "I don't see the value in taking apart something that seems to work at the moment," he said.
        Neurologist Denis Petro, who conducted clinical trials examining the effects of THC on spasticity during the 1980s, applauded efforts to study the medical benefits of whole smoked marijuana.  Petro said that inhalation is an "ideal" delivery method for some patients, and speculated that marijuana's medical benefits come from several constituents in the plant, not just one isolated compound.  "If [Dr. Guy's] studies focus on spasticity, the chances of a positive outcome are high," he said.
        Compounds in marijuana, particularly cannabidiol, have historically demonstrated value as potenial therapeutic agents for treating patients suffering from movement disorders, epilepsy and the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.  Recently, NORML compiled abstracts of nearly twenty separate studies indicating therapeutic benefits of whole smoked marijuana and it's constituents on spasticity disorders.
        One of the strongest endorsements of marijuana's value in treating spasticity comes from the Drug Enforcement Agency's own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young.  In 1988, after hearing two years of testimony regarding marijuana's potential as a therapeutic agent, Young ruled: "Marijuana 'has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States' for spasticity from MS and other causes.  It would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious to find otherwise."
        Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, praised the impending research trials.  "It is encouraging to see English researchers focusing on the medicinal potential of the entire plant instead of limiting their scope to include only isolated compounds or marijuana-like analogs.   The United States government should follow England's lead and approve similar medical marijuana protocols."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation or Dr. Denis Petro @ (703) 528-2647.

Oakland City Council Votes To Shield Local Cannabis Dispensary From
Federal Prosecution

        July 30, 1998, Oakland, CA:   The Oakland City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Wednesday designed to protect the city's local medical marijuana dispensary from federal criminal and civil liability.
        The ordinance allows city officials to "designate" the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative to distribute medical marijuana to seriously ill patients.  The legislation attempts to provide immunity to the Cooperative against a federal lawsuit aimed at closing the dispensary.   Supporters of the ordinance believe that Section 885(d) of the Controlled Substances Act immunizes local officials who enforce local drug laws from federal sanctions.
        "Because the ordinance relies on provisions of federal law, it may be replicated in cities throughout the country, not just in California or other states that may pass laws similar to Proposition 215," said attorney Robert Raich, who drafted the measure.
        Oakland is the first city to apply the Controlled Substances Act in this manner, Raich said.
        For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or attorney Robert Raich @ (510) 338-0700.

North Carolina Appeals Court Rules Cops Can't Lie "In Good Faith" To Secure
Search Warrants

        July 30, 1998, Raleigh, NC:   Police may not knowingly make false statements "in good faith" to a magistrate to attain a search warrant, the state Court of Appeals ruled on July 21.   The Court dismissed a man's marijuana conviction because without the false statements, there did not exist probable cause to procure a search warrant.
        "It is shocking that this court of appeals decision would be necessary to convince the police in Raleigh that they must be truthful when seeking a warrant to search an individual's home," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.  "This case illustrates the corrosive effect the 'War on Drugs' has had on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure."
        Police officer R.A. McLeod filed an affidavit claiming he recovered "marijuana and cocaine from inside [the defendant's] residence, using investigative means."  He subsequently testified that he had not entered the house, but instead discovered marijuana seeds in the defendant's curbside trash.   He said he used the phrase "investigational means" because he believed local magistrates understood the term to mean a trash search, whereas the defense would not know the phrase's true meaning.  McLeod claimed he did not intend to mislead the magistrate.
        "It remains undisputed that no one entered the defendant's residence; the statement to the contrary was false and the affiant knew that it was false," Judge Y. Edward Greene wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.   "Because the statements made by Detective McLeod were false and made in bad faith, they must be stricken from the affidavit."
        The Court further determined that the term "using investigational means" supports "our holding that the affidavit was entered in bad faith.  [McLeod] testified that he used the words ... to conceal from the defendant how the evidence to support the search warrant was obtained."
        A review by a Charlotte newspaper found that nearly one-sixth of all search warrants issued for houses in that county bore the words "using investigational means."
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or attorney Tanya Kangas of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Off Campus Pot Arrest Not Grounds For Expulsion, State Supreme Court Rules

        July 30, 1998, Hartford, CT:   A Connecticut school board's decision to expel a high school senior for possession of marijuana off school grounds violated constitutional guarantees, the state Supreme Court ruled this week.
        "A 'War on Drugs' does not have to be a war on the Constitution," said attorney William Conti, who challenged the school policy.  "People have rights.  An education is guaranteed in the Constitution.  [This ruling] is a terrific victory for students everywhere."
        The high court determined a school board may only expel a student for an off-campus action that "markedly interrupts or severely impedes the day-to-day operation of a school," and not merely because the student's action violated school policy.  The court stated that conduct such as a telephoned bomb threat, or threatening harm to a teacher while off campus were adequate grounds for expulsion.  The court found the controlling statute too vague to support the school board's claim that the simple possession of marijuana off school grounds was "seriously disruptive [to] the educational process."
        For more information, please contact either attorney Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or attorney Tanya Kangas @ (202) 483-8751.