News Release

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April 22, 1999

North Dakota Becomes First State To Legalize Hemp Cultivation

        April 22, 1999, Bismarck, ND:   Governor Ed Schafer (R) signed legislation Saturday allowing local farmers to "plant, grow, harvest, possess, sell, and buy industrial hemp."  North Dakota is the first state to remove criminal penalties for hemp cultivation.
        "North Dakota is pushing the envelope for the sake of their farmers who could benefit from a legal, statewide hemp industry," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said.  He said the state's new law challenges federal law prohibiting non-federally licensed hemp cultivation.
        House Bill 1428 reclassifies hemp containing no more than three-tenths of one percent THC as a legal commercial crop, and allows licensed farmers to grow it.  The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure before the governor signed it.  The Legislature commissioned a study two years ago that determined locally grown hemp could yield profits as high as $141 per acre.
        North Dakota's new regulations are modeled closely after Canada's, which legalized commercial hemp cultivation last year.  Bill sponsor Rep. David Monson (D-Osnabrock) said that local farmers are eager to grow hemp after seeing the crop's economic success north of the border.
        Farmers who wish to grow hemp must have no prior criminal history, use certified seeds, and allow random inspections of their crop for THC content.  Farmers must pay a minimum $150 fee to apply for a hemp license.
        John Howell, CEO of New York City's Hemp Company of America and a plaintiff in a 1998 federal lawsuit to legalize hemp cultivation, said that "the future of hemp in America now looks much, much brighter."   He noted that federal permits to grow hemp require applicants to answer whether cultivation is legal in their state.  "Until now, every applicant had to check 'no' and applications were denied.  Now that Catch-22 cycle has been broken by North Dakota's action."
        The Legislature also approved measures allowing university researchers who have federal permission to grow small quantities of hemp, and urging Congress to acknowledge legal distinctions between hemp and marijuana.   Twenty-nine nations, including France, England, Germany, Japan, and Australia allow farmers to grow non-psychoactive hemp for its fiber content.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  To download a copy of this legislation, please visit: <>.   To read about additional state reform legislation, please visit the NORML website at: <>.

Drug Czar's Office Endorses Arresting, Jailing Medical Marijuana Smokers
Despite Report Backing Drug's Value

        April 22, 1999, Washington, D.C.:   Patients using marijuana medicinally should still face arrest and prosecution despite a federally commissioned report concluding the drug has medical value, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) stated in a recent interview.
        The statements drew the ire of NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.  "Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and his minions are not only misguided in their naked opposition to medical marijuana; unfortunately, they are also malevolent."
        ONDCP Deputy Director Donald Vereen called physicians who recommend marijuana to their patients "irresponsible" and endorsed arresting patients who use the drug, in the April 16, 1999, issue of Psychiatric News, the journal of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
        "It doesn't matter what the excuse [for using marijuana is,] ... you are going to get arrested just as fast," Vereen said.   "Individuals and individual doctors don't make medical policy, and that's what this is."
        Last month, a report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that,"Short term marijuana use appears to be suitable in treating conditions like chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, or the wasting syndrome caused by AIDS ... for patients who do not respond well to other medications."
        For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Hawaiian Hemp Research Cultivation Bill In Final Stages

        April 22, 1999, Honolulu, HI:   The Legislature narrowly approved a measure last week allowing hemp cultivation for research purposes, but still must debate the bill's amendments in conference committee.   House Bill 32's sponsor, Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R-Kailua), said that Gov. Ben Cayetano (D) supports the measure and will sign the bill by June.
        "While other states have approved hemp research, Hawaii is the first to approve state-sponsored research that includes the possibility of cultivation," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said.
        House Bill 32 permits "privately funded ... research on the agronomic potential of industrial hemp."  Thielen says she anticipates cooperation from federal officials to conduct the research, which may include allowing "seed variety trials of industrial hemp."  She added that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may soon unveil "revised security measures for industrial hemp that will not be cost prohibitive or as harsh as those for marijuana."
        The bill defines industrial hemp as marijuana that contains no more than three-tenths of one percent THC.
        For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  To download a copy of this legislation, please visit: <>.   To read about additional state reform legislation, please visit the NORML website at: <>.

Canada's Parliament Resumes Historic Medical Marijuana Debate

        April 22, 1999, Ottawa, Ontario:   Canada's House of Commons resumed debate last week on a motion to make marijuana available for medical purposes.  The House will vote on the motion, M-381, in June.   The hearing marked only the second time the House of Commons has debated legalizing medical marijuana.
        "The government must stop holding sick people hostage," said MP Pauline Picard (Bloc Quebecois-Drummond), whose party is one of the chief backers of the measure.  "This is a health debate, a justice debate, based on the values of fairness, mutual aid and compassion that we all share as a society."
        Picard testified that the motion must do no less than put Parliament on record as supporting legalizing medical marijuana, and argued against efforts to delay the drug's legal access.
        Member of Parliament Libby Davies (New Democrats Party-East Vancouver) agreed.  "We must make it very clear that we do not want to wait another two or three years for trials to be conducted," she testified, criticizing allegations by Health Minister Allan Rock that his office is developing guidelines for medical marijuana research.  "We do not want to wait for another study or another plan.  We want help and relief to be provided now."
        Rock announced earlier this year that he has asked federal officials to draw up a plan to provide for the distribution and use of marijuana in clinical trials.  Several MPs questioned Rock's sincerity, noting that he made similar statements over a year ago, but took no action.
        Motion 381, introduced by MP Bernard Bigras (Bloc Quebecois-Rosemont), recommends the government to "undertake all necessary steps concerning the possible legal use of marijuana for health and medical purposes."  An aide to Bigras estimated that 100 MPs support the measure, about 50 short of a majority in the 301-member House.
        Debate on M-381 will continue for a third day before MPs vote on the motion.
        For more information, please contact either R. Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  Transcripts of the debate are available online at: <>.