News Release

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September 3, 1998

French Police Threaten To Prosecute British Company For
Marketing Hemp Products

        September 3, 1998, Paris, France:   Body Shop International remains under investigation in France after law enforcement seized a line of beauty products containing hemp seed oil.  Although police readily returned the items -- which included lip conditioner, hand oil, and body lotion -- the company could face charges of encouraging drug use, a Body Shop spokeswoman told Bloomberg News Wire Sunday.
        "I know the French have perfected the art of irony in the past, but right now I'd like to see them get a better grip on the future," Body Shop founder Anita Roddick said.  She added that the hemp seed oil used in the products targeted by police came from France.  The country is one of Europe's leading producers of hemp fiber and goods.
        A spokesman for The Body Shop denied charges that the products promoted marijuana use, and said that they emphasized the differences between the two plant species.  A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Aix-en-Province countered that advertisements for the products depicted the hemp leaf because of its association with marijuana.
        The Body Shop launched their new hemp product line in France only two weeks ago after enjoying success in Britain and America.  In Britain, the hemp accessories accounted for 5 percent of the company's total sales one month after they introduced the series.
        Although U.S. federal law allows for the sale and use of hemp-based products, local law enforcement have occasionally tried to seize hemp accessories by claiming they violate marijuana laws.  In almost all cases, the police later returned the merchandise.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

California Legislature Closes Without Deciding On Medical Marijuana
Research Center

        September 3, 1998, Sacramento, CA:   Legislation to establish a Medical Marijuana Research Center at a campus of the University of California fell by the wayside Tuesday when the Senate adjourned prematurely.  The bill, S.B. 535, sought to provide $1 million to fund an ongoing study on the medical value of whole smoked marijuana on seriously ill patients.
        'The Legislature's inaction ignores demands from the public and scientific community to conduct
unbiased research on the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana," NORML Director R. Keith Stroup said.
        Introduced by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) in 1997, S.B. 535 enjoyed strong support from the medical and law enforcement communities.  Backers of the proposal induded the American Cancer Society, Attorney General Dan Lungren, the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Medical Association, and the California District Attorneys Association.  The Senate previously passed the bill in 1997, but adjourned before approving amendments proposed by the Assembly.  Reportedly, the bill enjoyed majority support from Assembly members.
        Robert Harris of Americans for Medical Rights said that he expects Vasconcellos to re-introduce similar legislation next year.   "We will bring this up again," he said.  "Stage three clinical trials have to be done."  He said that he expects new legislation to have a higher likelihood of becoming law because both gubernatorial candidates support medical marijuana research trials.
        The California Legislature previously funded clinical patient trials on the medical benefits of whole smoked marijuana and THC capsules from 1980 to 1986.
        For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Robert Harris of Americans for Medical Rights (Sacramento office) @ (916) 449-6190.

Judge Allows California Buyers' Clubs To Remain Open, Rejects Oakland Plan To
Immunize Dispensary From Prosecution

        September 3, 1998, San Francisco, CA:  U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer declined to issue an immediate order shutting down three cannabis buyers' clubs that continue to dispense marijuana to seriously ill patients in defiance of an April 16 injunction.  He scheduled further hearings to take place September 28, and indicated that he may eventually allow a jury to determine whether individual patients have a right to the club's supply of medical marijuana.
        Santa Clara law professor Gerald Uelmen, one of the attorneys defending the clubs, said that the outcome of much of Monday's hearing was favorable.  "We thought the hearing was positive in the sense that it denied the government's motion for summary judgment, and denied their request to [immediately close the remaining clubs,]" he said.  "[The clubs are still in operation and we are heading for a jury trial which is where we want to be."
        In a setback for medical marijuana proponents, Judge Breyer dismissed claims that designating staff members of the Oakland Buyers' Cooperative as city officials shielded the club from criminal and civil liability.   Attorneys for the Oakland CBC explained that Section 885(d) of the Federal Controlled Substances Act provides that any officer of the city who is enforcing a local ordinance relating to controlled substances will be protected from criminal sanctions.   "We're not dealing with a subversive effort to undercut the government's drug war," Uelmen argued in court.  "This is a careful and good-faith effort to implement the will of the people, consistent with federal law."
        Breyer rejected the claim and stated that individuals are not legally enforcing a drug-related law when their "purpose is to violate federal law."  Uelmen said they will appeal this ruling.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or NORML Legal Committee member William Panzer, Esq. @ (510) 834-1892.

Judge Finds City-Imposed Restrictions On Scheduled Marijuana Rally

        September 3, 1998, Boston, MA:   A Superior Court Judge ruled that free speech restrictions imposed on organizers of the annual "Boston Freedom Rally" by city officials are unconstitutional.
        William Downing, President of the NORML's Massachusetts state affiliate, praised the judge's decision to strike down the gag order.   "The judge's decision restores freedom of expression and assembly on the Boston Common."
        Earlier this year, city officials reluctantly granted the organization perinission to hold the event, but included a requirement that all speakers and performers discourage marijuana smoking and announce that police would enforce all state drug laws.
        This week, Judge Carol Ball determined that the city's stipulations for the speakers were "constitutionally impermissible," and also enjoined the city from enforcing many of the permit's other requirements.
        In past years, the "Freedom Rally" has drawn crowds approaching 100,000 people, making it the largest marijuana-reform event in the nation.  This year's event will take place on October 3 at the Boston Commons.
        For more information, please contact either Bill Downing of Mass Cann NORML @ (781) 944-2266 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.