News Release

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February 25, 1999

U.N. Calls For Medical Marijuana Research, Maintains Hardline
On Recreational Use

        February, 25, 1999, New York, NY:   The United States should begin scientific trials to determine marijuana's medicinal value, a United Nations report recommended this week.
        The U.N. "renews its call for additional scientific research to be carried out on ... the use of cannabis for certain medical purposes," states the report, released Tuesday by the International Drug Control Board.  The 13-member board oversees U.N. drug treaties.
        The Board's request comes one week after leaders of 17 national AIDS organizations demanded that White House officials allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to people suffering from the disease.
        NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said that U.S. officials typically refuse to conduct medical marijuana research, even when their own commissions recommended it.  "Similar requests made by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana have gone unanswered," St. Pierre said.
        The National Academy of Sciences is scheduled to release an updated report on medical marijuana next month, he said.
        The U.N. board remained unyielding on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.  However, it concedes that, "The abuse of cannabis has become widespread in virtually all countries of the world ... in recent decades," despite international efforts to prohibit the drug.
        The report also said that new technologies like the Internet pose a significant threat to drug prohibition.  "Governments ... should work in close cooperation with the Internet industry, community organizations, families and educators to set up a framework that will ensure that such emerging technologies are not misused for the proliferation of drug abuse," it said.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  Excerpts of the report are available online from:

Body Shop Owner Sends White House Hemp, Congratulations

        February 25, 1999, Washington, D.C.:   Body Shop International Founder Anita Roddick sent President William Clinton several hemp goods last week, and urged him to support legal distinctions between hemp and marijuana.
        "Don't go wobbly with misinformation," Roddick plead.  "Hemp is a good product and not a drug. Across the planet people use it for food, clothing, fuel and lotions to make people more comfortable in their own skin."
        The Body Shop distributes several hemp-based skin care products including lip conditioner, hand oil, soap, and body lotion.   Roddick sent her appeal to Clinton after learning that Air Force One stewards offered the President hemp beer while returning from Mexico.
        "Congratulations on breaking the hemp barrier on Air Force One," she wrote.
        A spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced that officials will no longer serve the beverage, Hemp Golden Beer, aboard Air Force One.  Despite the beer's legality, the spokesman called it an "inappropriate" drink to have on the President's plane.
        Ironically, the Air Force, which operates Air Force One, recently prohibited all personnel from ingesting any food or nutritional products containing hemp because military drug tests can not distinguish between the legal products and marijuana.
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or NORML board member Don Wirtshafter of The Ohio Hempery @ (740) 662-4367.

South Dakota Governor Proposes Mandatory Jail Time For Pot Offenses

        February 25, 1999, Pierre, SD: Gov. William Janklowe has introduced legislation that would impose mandatory jail sentences for all marijuana offenders, including children.
        NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. criticized the proposal.  "Marijuana smokers work hard, raise families, and contribute to their communities," he said.  "They are not part of the crime problem and we should not treat them like criminals.  This proposal would needlessly wreck the lives, careers, and families of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana."
        Stroup continued, "In addition, there is no evidence that making the possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by mandatory jail time will do anything to reduce use, particularly among adolescents."   He noted that the only federal study ever to compare marijuana use patterns among decriminalized states and those that still arrest marijuana smokers determined that, "Decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among young people."
        He concluded, "Rather than imposing harsh and mandatory jail sentences for minor marijuana offenders, we should develop a policy that distinguishes between use and abuse, and which reflects the importance we have always attached in this country to the right of the individual to be free from the overreaching power of the state."
        Senate Bill 210 states that any individual convicted of a marijuana violation shall serve ten days in jail.  Janklowe's initial proposal mandated a 30 day sentence for all offenders, but the Senate Affairs Committee amended the measure before passing it 5 to 3 last week.  The Senate approved it days later and the bill now awaits action by the House.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

South Carolina Mulls Making Sale Of Urine A Felony Offense

        February 25, 1999, Columbia, SC:   Legislation proposed by Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) seeks to crack down on individuals who attempt to skirt a drug test by using someone else's urine.  General Bill 277 makes "selling or purchasing urine with intent to defraud a drug screening test a felony" punishable by up to five years in jail.
        "Legislators must not have much to do if they have time to consider this measure," NORML's R. Keith Stroup said.   "Consider the irony here.  Failing a drug test is not a crime, but trying to pass it would be a felony under this measure.  This proposal illustrates the disproportionality of the 'war on drugs.'"
        Kenneth Curtis, owner of Privacy Protection Services, a Marietta-based company that markets urine substitution kits, surmises that the measure is in response to the ability of products like his to thwart a urine test.   "Lawmakers are trying to shoot the messenger here," he said.   "This situation is an example of law enforcement encroachment into what is now mostly a private sector testing business.  People should be concerned about government officials that would support over stepping into private sector testing."
        Thomas argues that his legislation is necessary because "the safety of the public is at stake here."  His measure awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  Kenneth Curtis of Privacy Protection Services may be contacted @ (864) 836-4341.