News Release

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November 30, 1999

Governor Johnson Seeks To Revive Medical Marijuana Program

        November 30, 1999, Santa Fe, NM:  Governor Gary Johnson has asked the state health secretary to draft a measure to restart a medical marijuana program in New Mexico.
        Passed by New Mexico law makers in 1978, the Lynn Pierson Act allowed for the medical use of marijuana to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy and for glaucoma.  The law calls for state health secretary Alex Valdez to put together a review board comprised of a psychiatrist, an ophthalmologist and an oncologist to approve patients and their physicians.  The review board can also approve other medical marijuana uses.  About 250 patients legally used marijuana under the state law until 1986, when lawmakers stopped funding the $50,000 a year program.  The current legislation would appropriate $150,000 for the program.
        "I'd probably vote to fund it if it's just a straight vote to fund," said Rep. Max Coll (D), vice chairman of the legislative finance committee.  "We passed that (Pierson Act) to help people who are badly in need of that kind of help. I think in those kinds of cases it's OK."
        For more information, please contact Alex Valdez, State Health Secretary at (505) 827-2613.

British Police Show Lenient Attitude Towards Marijuana

        Nov. 30, 1999, London, England:  A recent Bristol University study shows that law enforcement officers in England view marijuana as harmless.
        Ninety-five police officers were asked to rank 11 substances in order of addictiveness and marijuana was considered the least addictive, just behind coffee.  Crack, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol were the top five most addictive substances.
        Marijuana ranked 10th (out of 11) in being considered a harmful substance by the officers, just behind alcohol and ahead of coffee.  Crack, heroin, and cocaine were considered the top three most harmful.
        The officers were then presented with a situation where they go to a house where the owner is growing four marijuana plants and there is harvested marijuana in eyesight.  Two-thirds said they would not arrest the owner, saying it was a run of the mill sort of case.  Only 11 percent said they would definitely prosecute.  Nine out of 10 felt that as far as drug cases go, this was not serious.
        "Too often marijuana is lumped into the same category as hard drugs," said Scott Colvin, NORML Publication Director.  "It is refreshing to see that for the most part police in England are willing to take a reasonable approach to marijuana prosecutions."
        For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director, at (202) 483-5500.