News Release

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July 15, 1999

Gov. Balks As Medical Marijuana Task Force Recommendations Move Forward In California Senate

        July 15, 1999, Sacramento, CA:  Governor Gray Davis' office announced yesterday that he opposes recommendations made by the "Attorney General's Task Force on Medical Marijuana," and would likely veto Senate legislation that seeks to implement them.
        "Governor Davis is ignoring the will of California voters and the findings of his own expert committee," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq., who called the decision shameful.  "Does the governor care so little about the rights of sick and dying Californians who benefit from medical marijuana that he is willing to sacrifice their health to pander to Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey?"
        The 30-member task force of police, prosecutors, and marijuana advocates, which convened this spring under the direction of Attorney General Bill Lockyer, recommended the establishment of a voluntary state-run registry that would issue ID cards to qualified patients and caregivers.  Persons legally possessing the cards would be immune from arrest under state law for the possession, transportation, delivery, or cultivation of medical marijuana.  The task force also endorsed allowing "qualified persons to collectively or cooperatively cultivate [medical] marijuana."  Senator John Vasconcellos introduced legislation last week to implement the committee's recommendations.  The Assembly Health Committee passed the measure, S.B. 848, Tuesday by a 9 to 3 vote.
        Davis' office announced his opposition following the Health Committee's action. Vasconcellos called the governor's response offensive.  "This defies anything I've seen in 30 years," he said.  "I thought the people of California elected the governor, not Barry McCaffrey."
        The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Davis has previously argued that elected officials should respect the will of the voters when they approve initiatives.
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.

No Facts Behind CASA Report Attacking Marijuana Decriminalization, NORML Charges

        July 15, 1999, Washington, D.C.:  More than a dozen federal and independent studies conducted over the past 25 years demonstrate that decriminalizing marijuana does not increase marijuana use, the NORMLFoundation announced today.
        "Studies performed by the U.S. government, the National Academy of Sciences, foreign governments, and state legislatures comparing marijuana use rates and attitudes among citizens who live in decriminalized states and those who do not all determined that decriminalization does not play a role in encouraging use," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said in response to allegations made by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).  "CASA's claims to the contrary are baseless."
        CASA released a white paper Tuesday alleging that decriminalizing marijuana "lead[s] to more widespread use, especially among children."
     Presently, the possession of small amounts of marijuana is a noncriminal offense in ten U.S. states, and several countries around the world.
        Testifying before Congress Tuesday, University of California Law Professor Robert MacCoun said that survey analysis found little difference in marijuana use patterns among decriminalized and non-decriminalized states.  "Decriminalization [is] not associated with any detectable changes in adolescent attitudes toward marijuana," he said.  "Most cross-state comparisons have found no difference in adolescent marijuana use in decriminalization states."
        The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine released a report in March that determined, "There is little evidence that the decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use."
        A summary of commissions' findings regarding marijuana decriminalization and use patterns is available on NORML's website at: <>.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

Police-Administered Drug Testing Program For Teens To Spread Statewide

        July 15, 1999, Molalla, OR:  A Molalla Police Department program that encourages parents to bring in their children for free drug testing will likely expand statewide this year.  The two-year-old program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, screens participants at police headquarters for various drugs, and reports its findings within 15 minutes.
        NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre criticized the policy.  "Parents intent on evaluating their children's excrement for evidence of past drug use can go to any major drug chain store and purchase a private drug test, rather than expose their children to the criminal justice system and its structural infirmities," he said.
        The Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police recently voted to expand the program to 10 other cities.
        State ACLU Director David Fidanque questioned the confidentiality of the program, maintaining that police could eventually target participants who test positive.  "I think [this issue] ought to be between kids, families and their doctors," he said.  "Parents should not expect the government to be parents to their kids."
        The Molalla program uses urine samples to detect drug metabolites, but does not confirm positive results or allow independent labs to review their findings.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Litigation Director Tom Dean, Esq. @ (202) 483-8751.

Canada: Marijuana In AIDS Treatment Study Likely To Begin This Year

        July 15, 1999, Toronto, Ontario:  Canada's federal health agency, Health Canada, has requested a Toronto research group to design the country's first ever clinical trial on the use of marijuana in AIDS treatment.
        "This is further evidence that the Canadian government is serious about addressing the medical marijuana issue," NORML Director Keith Stroup said.
        In June, Health Canada released guidelines for upcoming medical marijuana trials, and announced plans to grow marijuana for medical research.
        Health Canada asked the Community Research Initiative of Toronto (CRIT) to design the AIDS protocol, which will reportedly begin this year.  Currently, one U.S. study examining the effects of marijuana on patients with AIDS is taking place in San Francisco.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.