June 17, 1999
Judge Forbids State-Licensed Marijuana Patient From Using Pot While On Probation, Sentences Her To 10 Days In Jail
1999, Eugene, OR: An Oregon judge ordered a cancer and arthritis
sufferer to jail for using marijuana even though she has been approved by the
state to use it medicinally.
"This judge may not like the state's new medical marijuana law, but he still must abide by it," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said. "State law clearly defines that the marijuana consumed by the defendant in this case was a legal medicine and not contraband. The judge has no authority to deny her access to a legal medication."
Patient Pamela Jill Stafsholt, who is undergoing chemotherapy, uses marijuana to treat nausea and chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The Oregon state health department licensed Stafsholt this spring to legally possess and use limited amounts of the drug. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, which took effect in December, legalizes the use of medical marijuana by patients who possess a physician's recommendation and register with the state.
Judge Dan Harris ruled that Stafsholt's use of medical marijuana violated her probation from a previous marijuana arrest despite her compliance with state law. Harris sentenced Stafsholt to serve ten days in jail for using marijuana and prohibited her from smoking it while on probation.
Harris called Stafsholt's marijuana's use "highly inappropriate" and said that it violated federal drug laws.
For more information, please contact NORML Foundation Litigation Director Tom Dean, Esq. @ (202) 483-8751.
Canadian Senator Urges Drug Policy Review, Endorses Legalization Of Marijuana, "Soft" Drugs
1999, Ottawa, Ontario: Senator Pierre Claude Nolin (Progressive
Conservative Party-De Salaberry) introduce legislation this week to establish a
nonpartisan committee to review and lessen Canada's drug policies.
"In the future, we should have a much more lenient policy toward users of all drugs," Nolin said, calling illicit drug use a public health issue, not a criminal one. "My personal opinion is that we should legalize the use of soft drugs."
Nolin chastised the Canadian government for refusing to implement the recommendations of previously appointed commissions that advised decriminalizing marijuana. He said that the Le Dain Commission endorsed removing criminal marijuana penalties thirty years ago, and stressed that their findings remain valid today. Nolin also highlighted a shelved 1979 Health Canada report recommending the federal government decriminalize marijuana.
"The problems arising out of the criminalization of drug users, out of its economic and social costs and out of the non-decreasing supply have still not been dealt with," he said. "The Canadian government [should] justify departing from the prohibition policy by stating that criminalization goes against the fundamental principle of moderation in our criminal justice system."
Nolin's resolution mandates the appointment of a "Special Senate Committee" to "reassess Canada's anti-drug legislation and policies." This review would include a "study of harm reduction models adopted by other countries," and explore alternatives to marijuana prohibition, including decriminalization.
Recently, Member of Parliament Keith Martin (Reform Party-Esquimalt) introduced legislation in the House of Commons to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, C-503, mimics a position adopted by the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs recommending marijuana offenders be fined, but no longer arrested. The Royal Canadian Mounted Polices also recently announced their support for decriminalization.
For more information, please contact R. Keith Stroup, Esq. or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. A transcript of Senator Nolin's remarks is available online at: <http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/parlbus/chambus/senate/deb-e/149DB_1999-06-14-e.htm>.
Politician Advocates San Francisco Hemp Gardens
1999, San Francisco, CA: City Supervisor Mike Leno believes he's found
the ideal place to cultivate hemp: the nonprofit gardens of San Francisco.
"I'd like to see San Francisco get ahead of the ball on this," Leno said last week after pitching his idea to the city council. "This would help our nonprofits do good and make money at the same time."
Leno requested the city attorney's office to draft regulations allowing local agencies to grow the crop downtown. He intends to pattern his proposal after a recently passed North Dakota law licensing and regulating farmers to grow hemp.
In April, North Dakota became the first state in over 50 years to remove criminal penalties for hemp cultivation. Recently, the California Democratic Party adopted a resolution at their state convention supporting hemp farming.
The San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, a nonprofit agency that teaches gardening skills, supports Leno's proposal, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.
Parliament Committee Urges New Zealand Government To Consider Marijuana Decriminalization, Again
1999, Wellington, New Zealand: For the second time in six months, New
Zealand's parliamentary health committee recommended the government review its
criminal policies regarding marijuana.
"In light of the evidence we have heard on the effects of cannabis and the high rate of cannabis use in New Zealand, the effectiveness of the current policy on cannabis requires examination," health committee chair Brian Neeson said. "Accordingly, we restate the recommendations made in [December] ... that the government review the appropriateness of existing policy on cannabis and its use and reconsider the legal status of cannabis."
The committee's initial report, issued last year, concluded that "occasional cannabis use presents few risks to the mental health of most adult users," and argued for a "harm minimization" approach to dealing with the marijuana issue. At that time, government officials ignored the report.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.