News Release

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October 22, 1998

Marijuana Plays No Significant Role In Automotive Crashes,
Australian Study Finds

        October 22, 1998, Adelaide, South Australia:  Drivers under the influence of marijuana run little risk of having automobile accidents, researchers from the University of Adelaide and Transport for South Australia announced Monday.  The research team examined blood samples of 2,500 South Australian drivers and determined that those under the influence of marijuana were no more likely to have an accident than those who were drug free.
        "These findings, like those of the National Highway Transportation Administration, indicate that alcohol is by far the leading cause of drug-related traffic accidents, while marijuana's role is negligible explained Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the NORML Foundation.
        The South Australian study is the largest ever undertaken to determine the link between drug use and roadside accidents.
        Study leader, Dr. Jason White, said that the findings hold worldwide significance.  "[Alcohol produces the greatest impairment to driving and the effects of other drugs are very small when compared with [its] effects," he said.  He speculated that marijuana smokers are seldom involved in car accidents because they "compensate for the impairing effects of the drug.  They are more cautious, less likely to take risks, and drive slower."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202)483-8751.

Magazine Publishers Of America Enlist In Drug War Media Blitz

        October 22, 1998, Orlando, FL:   The Board of Directors of the Magazine Publishers of America announced Monday that it will promote a recently launched federal anti-drug media campaign by "running compelling ads in their magazines and providing editorial support appropriate for their audiences."
        Allen St. Piene, executive director of The NORML Foundation, criticized the MPA's involvement in the federal ad campaign.   "The 'objective' media have no business being involved in an anti-marijuana ad campaign that is based primarily upon propaganda and half truths," he said.
        The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched a five-year, $775 million ad campaign this past January and challenged media oudets to contribute matching funds in the form of television, radio, and print advertising.
        The resolution passed by the MPA board states: "[We] accept the challenge presented to the magazine industry by [Drug Czar] General McCaffrey to join with the Ad Council, the Partnership for a Drug Free America, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.   ... The MPA will use its best efforts to coordinate membership participation in a national magazine 'roadblock' in 1999 to raise the level of awareness of the campaign among parents and kids."
        The MPA joins the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), who announced in June 1997 that it would cooperate with the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) to launch a nationwide television campaign against marijuana use.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202)483-8751.

Alaska Nurses Association Backs Passage Of Medical Marijuana Initiative

        October 22, 1998, Anchorage, AK:   The Alaska Nurses Association recently passed a resolution supporting the passage of Ballot Measure No.8, an initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
        NORML Publications Director Paul Armentano praised the ANA's stance.  "Over the past several years, the medical community and nurses in particular, have spoken in favor of allowing certain patients legal access to medical marijuana," he said.  "It remains law enforcement and politicians in Washington -- not doctors and nurses -- that continue to support policies prohibiting the use of marijuana as a medicine."
        The resolution states that marijuana "has a wide margin of safety for use under medical supervision," and is effective in reducing nausea, stimulating appetite, controlling spasticity, treating glaucoma, and controlling seizures.
        The ANA position aligns it with nursing associations in California, Colorado, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.   All support legalizing medical access to marijuana for some patients.
        For more information, please contact Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

National Black Police Association Supports Passage of D.C. Medical
Marijuana Proposal

        October 22, 1998, Washington, D.C.:   The National Black Police Association announced its support Monday for voter passage of Initiative 59, the "Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998."
        "We believe this medical initiative is about providing a helping hand to those who are living with AIDS and other terminal diseases," stated NBPA Executive Director Ronald Hampton.  "Initiative 59 is not promoting recreational drug [use] or the legalization of marijuana.
        The NBPA's support position came one day prior to a vote by the Major City Chiefs Association opposing medical marijuana.  The NBPA represents more than 30,000 law enforcement officials nationwide.
        Initiative 59 seeks to exempt patients who use marijuana under a doctor's supervision from the District's criminal marijuana penalties.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Wayne Turner of ACT-UP @ (202) 547-9494.

Medical Marijuana Proposal To Appear On Colorado Ballot, But Votes Won't Count,
Secretary of State Announces

        October 22, 1998, Denver, CO:   State officials alleged medical marijuana petitioners fell 2,338 signatures short of qualifying for the November 3 ballot after completing a line-by-line check of the more than 88,000 signatures gathered in support of the proposal.  The state Supreme Court ordered the review after state officials appealed an earlier ruling ordering the initiative on the November ballot.
        Medical marijuana proponents, Coloradans for Medical Rights, said that they are conducting their own review to double-check the Secretary of State's signature count.  In August, petitioners discovered that state officials had made several mistakes when conducting a random sample check of some 4,500 signatures.
        "We will be checking every bit of work that [Secretary of State Vikki Buckley's office] did to make sure there aren't massive errors like we found before," said CMR spokesman Luther Symons.  "Should we find any legal basis for challenging this ruling, for example that she made a large number of errors, we will pursue all of our legal remedies."
        The Colorado initiative sought to allow seriously ill patients who have a doctor's recommendation to possess up to two ounces of marijuana or grow three plants for medical use.  Voters in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington will decide on similar medical marijuana initiatives this year.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.