News Release

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November 4, 1999

Maine Voters Say 'Yes' To Medical Marijuana Question

        Nov. 4, 1999, Augusta, ME:  Maine voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly showed their support for the medical use of marijuana.
        Sixty-one percent of Mainers voted "yes" to Initiative Question 2 which asked, "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?"  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 chronic, debilitating disease, such as multiple sclerosis will be exempted from prosecution under state law.
        "We think it's clear Maine people have taken a stronger stand for a compassionate drug policy than has the federal government," said Craig Brown, coordinator of Mainers for Medical Rights, who led the Question 2 campaign.
        Patients will be required to either cultivate their medical marijuana or purchase it from the black market.
        The new law which takes effect January 1, 1999, limits the amount a patient can possess to no more than 1 1/4 ounces of harvested marijuana or six marijuana plants, of which no more than three can be mature, flowering plants.
        Maine now becomes the sixth state to legalize the medical use of marijuana by voter initiative, and the first state east of the Mississippi River.  The other states are California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
        Voters in Nevada approved a medical use initiative in 1998, and as an amendment to the state constitution, vote again on the issue in 2000.  Colorado voters will also be voting on an initiative in November of 2000, where it has already been qualified for the ballot.
        District of Columbia voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, but Congress is considering a bill to override the results.
        "The impressive victory in Maine demonstrates that strong support exists for the medical use of marijuana among the voters in all parts of the country, not just on the West Coast," said Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director.  "Medical use has been approved by the voters in every state where it has appeared on the ballot."
        For more information, please contact Mainers for Medical Rights at (310) 394-2952 or Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500.  To view the complete wording of the law, visit

Australia Continues To Strive For Marijuana Decriminalization

        Nov. 4, 1999, Canberra, Australia:  The steady move toward the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use is continuing its rise in Australia, where public support for reform is strong.
        A recent study in Australia shows about 75 percent of the citizens support the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use.  Seventy percent supported treatment instead of incarceration.
        Provincial leaders are responding too.  In Queensland, Premier Peter Beattie has proposed permitting personal use of marijuana (up to 500 grams) to avoid criminal prosecution.  Marijuana users who are found in possession of lower than 500 grams would be subject to a rehabilitation course.
        Other provinces and territories have already approved similar plans.  Currently, South Australia allows for up to three marijuana plants, the Northern Territory allows two plants or 50 grams, Australian Capitol Territory has a 25 gram limit, Victoria and Tasmania have a 50 gram cut-off and New South Wales has a 15 gram limit.
        In Victoria, the Health Minister John Thwaites said this week that the government would further decriminalize marijuana for personal use.  Thwaites' plan would subject marijuana smokers to a $100 fine for smoking in public.
        "For the better part of 30 years, despite conducting numerous government studies, reports and commissions in favor of marijuana law reform, Australia has resisted changing the legal status of marijuana due to U.S. pressure," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director.  "It appears that resistance is finally crumbling."
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.