News Release

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October 28, 1999

NORML Foundation Files FOIA With Five Federal Agencies On Anti-Marijuana Fungus

        Oct. 28, 1999, Washington, DC:  The NORML Foundation has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with five U.S. Government agencies in an attempt to retrieve all information pertaining to the study and use of the cannabis killing fungus, Fusarium Oxysporum.
        FOIA requests were sent this week to The United States Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. State Department and the U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey's Office.  NORML Foundation requested a copy of "all records pertaining to the use of Fusarium Oxysporum as a pathogen to the Cannabis species of plant."
        The fungus was developed at Montana State University at Bozeman in conjunction with a private company.  In August, Montana NORML filed a civil rights lawsuit against the university seeking to receive all documents about the fungus possessed by the researchers.  Florida state drug czar Jim McDonough has also expressed interest in using the fungus despite claims the fungus could be harmful to the environment. Reform activists in Florida have filed similar FOIA requests with their state agencies.
        "We hope to obtain enough information to prove that the government is funding field experiments with the fungus," said Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director.  "These tests present a very real threat to the environment and to legal agricultural crops."
        "There is no such thing as a 'controlled' field test of a microscopic fungus," he continued.  "Once the Genie is out of the bottle there is no going back."
        For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director.

Mainers To Vote On Medical Marijuana On Tuesday

        Oct. 28, 1999, Augusta, ME:  Maine voters will be deciding next Tuesday on ballot Question 2, which would allow patients to possess and use marijuana medically.
        Question 2 asks voters, "Do you want to allow patients with specific illnesses to grow and use small amounts of marijuana for treatment, as long as such use is approved by a doctor?"  Question 2 would protect patients who have been diagnosed by a physician as suffering from: persistent nausea, vomiting, wasting syndrome or loss of appetite as a result of AIDS or chemotherapy for cancer, glaucoma, and seizures associated with a chronic, debilitating disease, such as multiple sclerosis.
        Recent polls show 70 percent of Maine residents support Question 2.  There is presently no active organized opposition. The Maine Medical Association does not support the proposal, but Mainers for Medical Rights, the group organizing Question 2 efforts, have over 175 health care professionals who support medical marijuana and they are using some of the MMA's dissenters in a television ad campaign.
        The first commercial shows a Maine doctor in an office as he states, "If you're undergoing cancer chemotherapy, severe nausea and vomiting are common side effects and they often fail to respond to available medications.  Fortunately there is a medicine that can help.  It's marijuana."  The second commercial features a nurse who cares for patients in the last stages of cancer.  She states, "Marijuana could ease the suffering of some of them.  I know it works, but today it's against the law."
        For more information, please contact Mainers for Medical Rights at (310) 394-2952.

Federal Government Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Medical Marijuana Ruling

        October 28, 1999, San Francisco, CA:  The U.S. Justice Department is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to permit the distribution of marijuana to patients who can demonstrate a medical necessity.
        In September, the appeals court ruled in favor of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative (OCBC) when they asked U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer to reconsider his injunction against the OCBC and consider "the criteria for a medical necessity exemption."
        Robert Raich, Esq., attorney for the OCBC, called the government's latest maneuver "yet another hurdle to jump over."
        "This shows that the Clinton Administration is out of touch with the voters of California, the political establishment of California and the medical establishment of California," Raich said.  "The State Attorney General asked U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to not request reconsideration in this case."
        For more information, please contact Robert Raich, Esq., attorney for the OCBC at (510) 338-0700 or Tom Dean, NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.

California Attorney General Reports Over 250,000 Marijuana Plants Seized This Year

        October 28,1999, Arcadia, CA:  State Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced yesterday that the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting has seized over 250,000 marijuana plants.  Lockyer said the plants' value is close to $1 billion.
        The number of plants seized almost doubled last year's total.  This year also saw California's largest single haul when agents raided a grower in southern California with 48,000 plants.
        "Growing marijuana is a non-violent offense and should not be a high priority for California authorities," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "This is an enormous waste of law enforcement resources that should be focused on violent and serious crime."
        For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500 or Dale Gieringer, State Coordinator for California NORML at (415) 563-5858.