News Release

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April 1, 1999

Marijuana Induces Minimum Driving Impairment Compared to Alcohol,
Toronto Study Says

        April 1, 1999, Toronto, Ontario:   Drivers under the influence of marijuana pose far fewer risks on roadways than do drivers intoxicated by alcohol, a new University of Toronto study suggests.  The study corroborates earlier research demonstrating that marijuana is not a significant causal factor in traffic accidents.
        "The failure of the Toronto University researchers to observe a significant effect of marijuana on driving culpability is consistent with findings from earlier studies," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said.  He noted that a May 1998 study by the University of Adelaide (South Australia) Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology determined, "There was no evidence of any increase in the likelihood of being culpable for [automobile] crash[es] amongst those injured drivers in whom cannabinoids were detected.   ... [Their] culpability rates were no higher than those for the drug free group."
        Toronto researchers analyzed new data as well as several controlled international studies and concluded that marijuana-impaired drivers compensate by driving more slowly and cautiously.
        "The more cautious behavior of subjects who received marijuana [in studies] decreased the drug's impact on performance," said Alison Smiley of the University's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.   "Their behavior is more appropriate to their impairment, whereas subjects who received alcohol tend to drive in a more risky manner."
        The new study appears in the March issue of Health Effects of Cannabis, a publication of Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health.
        Previous marijuana and driving studies performed in the U.S. by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also found "no indication that marijuana by itself was a cause of fatal accidents."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.   California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer is also available for comment @ (415) 563-5858.

Gallup Poll Shows Americans Support Medical Marijuana By 3 To 1 Margin

        April 1, 1999, Washington, D.C.:   Seventy-three percent of Americans support amending federal law to allow for the legal use of marijuana as a medicine, a Gallup Poll reported Friday.
        "Medical marijuana is an issue where the voters are far ahead of the politicians," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said.  "Legislators must realize that legalizing marijuana as medicine is politically safe and supported by mainstream Americans across all political boundaries."
        The Gallup Poll News Service stated that, "By a three-to-one margin Americans would support making marijuana available to doctors, so it could be prescribed to reduce pain and suffering."
        These results mimic earlier surveys conducted by ABC News, The Luntz Research Company, CBS News, and Lake Research that indicated a majority of Americans from both parties support legalizing medical marijuana.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  To read the results of previous medical marijuana polls, please visit the NORML website at:

California Democrats Adopt Resolution Supporting Hemp

        April 1, 1999, Sacramento, CA:   The California Democratic Party adopted a resolution supporting hemp cultivation at their state convention last weekend.
        "This is a first step toward [the introduction of] hemp legislation in California," said Sam Clauder III of Californians for Industrial Renewal (CAIR), which put forward the resolution.   Clauder said he hopes to see Democrats introduce legislation this month supporting hemp.
        Delegates resolved that, "The California Democratic Party endorses the legalization of the domestic production of industrial hemp, and strongly recommends to the state legislature that laws be adopted to allow industrial hemp to be cultivated and harvested under the control and regulation of the California State Department of Food and Agriculture."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Sam Clauder of CAIR @ (714) 543-6400.

Senate Okays Bill Forcing Michigan Cities To Impose Criminal Penalties
For Marijuana Offenders

        April 1, 1999, Lansing, MI:   The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation last week that would impose criminal penalties for minor marijuana offenders in the cities of Ann Arbor and East Lansing.
        "Senate Bill 380 would needlessly subject thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens in Ann Arbor and East Lansing who smoke marijuana to criminal arrest and incarceration," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq., who denounced the measure.  "Many of these citizens are college age students, just starting careers, who could find their futures jeopardized by the long-term ramifications of an arrest and criminal record."
        Local ordinances in Ann Arbor and East Lansing punish minor marijuana offenders with a $25 fine, a penalty that deviates from the state law which calls for a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Senate Bill 380, introduced by Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom (R-Temperance), would prohibit municipalities from adopting local drug ordinances with penalties softer than the state law.
        The Senate approved the measure by a 36 to 1 vote last Thursday.  It now awaits action by the House of Representatives.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  To read more about S.B. 380 or additional pending state marijuana legislation, please visit the NORML website at:

Crime Committee Kills Minnesota Hemp Bill

        April 1, 1999, St. Paul, MN:   The Republican controlled House Crime Prevention Committee voted down a Senate bill that sought to establish a regulated hemp industry in Minnesota.  The defeat angered proponents, who hoped Minnesota would become the first state to legalize hemp production, and disappointed Gov. Jesse Venture who backed the legislation.
        "This was an agricultural bill that had no business being placed in a crime committee," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.  The Senate had previously approved the legislation by a vote of 54 to 4.
        Senate File 122 classified hemp "as an agriculture crop subject to regulation and registration by the commission of agriculture."  The Legislature passed a similar version of the bill last year, but then-Gov. Arne Carlson (R) vetoed it.  That proposal was approved by the Agriculture Committees in both Houses, and was never assigned to a crime committee.
        Several states this year have passed hemp reform proposals, including Illinois, Montana, North Dakota, and Virginia, but none of these measures license farmers to grow the crop.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  To read about additional pending state marijuana legislation, please visit the NORML website at: