News Release

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October 8, 1998

Marijuana Derivative Benefits Head Trauma Victims,
Human Trials Show

        October 8, 1998, Jerusalem, Israel:   A synthetic drug derived from marijuana reduced mortality and eased intracranial pressure in patients suffering from severe head injuries, results from a study involving 67 patients demonstrated.  Patients treated with the drug, known as Dexanabinol, were also more likely "to resume to a normal life" than those not treated with the drug.
        "These results add to the growing body of evidence indicating that compounds in marijuana reduce damage to the brain caused by head trauma, strokes, and spinal cord injuries," announced Paul Armentano, director of publications and research for The NORML Foundation.
        Research demonstrates that Dexanabinol protects healthy brain cells after trauma by blocking the neurotransmitter, glutamate.  Head trauma and strokes cause the release of excessive glutamate, often resulting in irreversible damage to brain cells.
        "These [latest] study results are promising and open the door to a Phase III study (large human trial) in the U.S. and Europe next year," announced Haim Aviv, chairman and CEO of Pharmos Corporation, which licenses Dexanabinol.  He estimated that a Phase III study would involve trials with 700 to 900 patients and take nearly two years to complete.
        The study's lead investigator, Dr. Nachshon Knoller of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, said that no drugs are currently approved to treat severe head trauma.  Head injuries are the leading cause of death among U.S. children and young adults, he added.
        Similar medical marijuana research conducted this July by researchers at the National Institutes for Mental Health found that the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol (CBD) also appear to protect the brain against toxic levels of glutamate.
        For more information, please contact either NORML Foundation Vice-Chairman Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School @ (617) 277-3621 or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Clinton Signs Law Denying Student Aid To Marijuana Smokers

        October 8, 1998, Washington, D.C.:   President Bill Clinton signed legislation yesterday denying convicted marijuana offenders from receiving federal student loan assistance.  The language, introduced by Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) as an amendment to the Higher Education Act  (H.R. 6), mandates that "A student who has been convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance shall not be eligible to receive any [federal]
grant, loan, or work assistance."
        NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. called the new law unfair.  "It is outrageous that Congress and the President would pass this law denying financial aid to students for minor non-violent drug offenses, while a felony conviction for a serious violent crime brings no such penalty," he said.  "What kind of message is Washington sending?"
        The new law suspends first time drug offenders from receiving student aid for one year.  Second time offenders will be ineligible for two years, and multiple repeat offenders will be barred indefinitely.  Drug sellers will be ineligible for two years after their first conviction, and indefinitely prohibited from receiving aid upon a second conviction.  Students may resume eligibility before completing their suspension if they participate in a drug rehabilitation program and pass two random drug tests.
        Stroup questioned how fairly the new law would apply to marijuana offenders.  "In many states, marijuana possession is decriminalized (a civil violation punishable by payment of a small fine), while in others it's a misdemeanor or a felony.  Depending on which state students live in, this legislation may or may not apply to you."
        Scott Ehlers, spokesman for The Drug Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C., also criticized the measure.  "The Higher Education Act's denial of student loans to convicted drug offenders proves that drug laws can ruin a person's life more thoroughly than drug use," he said.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Scott Ehlers of The Drug Policy Foundation @ (202) 537-5005.

U.K. Drug Czar Backs Limited Use Of Medical Marijuana

        October 8, 1998, London, England:   United Kingdom Drug Czar Keith Hellawell said the use of marijuana as a medicine may be justified in some cases, The Daily Mail newspaper reported recently.   Hellawell's statement marked the first time the Drug Czar has indicated support for medical marijuana reform.
        The Daily Mail wrote, "Mr. Hellawell's remarks were taken as a powerful hint that Ministers are prepared to back legalization if trials now underway support doctors' claims that cannabis can help those suffering from serious diseases."
        A British researcher licensed by the U.K. government to grow medical marijuana plans to begin human trials shortly to determine the drug's effectiveness in treating patients with multiple sclerosis.
        "British officials seem ready to take a serious look at marijuana as a medicine and distinguish this public health issue from the war on drugs," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

South Carolina High School Issues Ban On Hemp Jewelry

        October 8, 1998, Columbia, South Carolina:  Students attending Spring Valley High School may no longer wear necklaces made out of hemp fiber, according to a new policy enacted by educators this year.  Administrators at the school said the ban was necessary because the necklaces are representative of the marijuana drug culture.
        "School officials' purpose for banning hemp jewelry likely violates students' constitutionally protected rights to speech," said Tanya Kangas, Esq., director of litigation for The NORML Foundation.
        Steven Bates, executive director of the state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), also voiced opposition to the new policy.   "The authoritarian nature of schools is becoming ridiculous," he said.   "It's silly.  You could smoke it (hemp) all day long and not get high."
        Spring Valley Assistant Principal Genny White defended the ban.  "Even though we know there are other legitimate uses for hemp, we don't think it is appropriate for school," she said.
        Presently, the hemp ban applies only to necklaces.  The policy does not prohibit students from wearing hemp clothing such as hemp T-shirts or shoes, and does not forbid the use of hemp cosmetic products like lip balm.
        The school's dress code previously banned students from wearing T-shirts with designs suggestive of drug, tobacco, or alcohol use.
        In past years, a handful of high schools have attempted to enforce similar bans on hemp jewelry.  Notably, North High School in Eastlake, Ohio outlawed hemp jewelry in 1996, but stopped enforcing the measure after pressure from the state NORML affiliate and the ACLU.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Tanya Kangas of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.