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February 1, 1996

NORML Targets Republican Task Force - Urges Panel To Lift Ban
On Medical Cannabis, Reconsider Decriminalization Of Marijuana

February 1, 1996, Washington, DC: NORML has sent a formal letter and 50-page informative booklet to each member of the new Republican task force on drugs. The letter urges the committee to lift the federal government's ban on medical cannabis and re-examine the decriminalization of marijuana as a public policy. NORML also asks the task force to include testimony from medical experts on these subjects when the committee holds public hearings on drug use later this year.

Enclosures to the letter include endorsements of the potential of medical marijuana from such well respected organizations as the National Academy of Sciences, American Public Health Association and others. Also included in the booklet is a summary of the 1981 Monitoring the Future briefing paper that stated, "decriminalization [of marijuana] has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or related attitudes and belief about marijuana use among American young people."

"This compendium makes a strong argument for a federal re-evaluation of our current marijuana policies," says NORML Deputy National Director Allen St. Pierre. "It is intended to persuade as well as inform the newly established Republican drug task force. "The letter and booklet are two of NORML's latest efforts to garner political attention and support for U.S. Representative Barney Frank's federal medical marijuana bill (H.R. 2618).

Frank's legislation would amend the federal law to permit doctor's to prescribe marijuana as a therapeutic agent to seriously ill patients. The bill has been referred to the Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime where it is presently awaiting a vote.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Washington State Senators Introduce Legislation To Allow Research Of Medical Marijuana

January 30, 1996, Olympia, Washington: Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl, D-36th District, along with Sens. Bob McCaslin, R-4th District; Darlene Fairley, D-32nd District; and Pat Thibaudeau, D-43rd District, has introduced a bill (S.B. 6744) that would allow further research to be conducted regarding the medical uses of marijuana.

The legislation, known as the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, finds that there is a need for research regarding the cultivation, processing, and distribution of medicinal marijuana under strictly controlled circumstances. Therefore, S.B. 6744 amends current state statutes, creates new sections, and allows for appropriations to achieve those ends. The bill has been referred to the 25-member Committee on Ways and Means and must be brought to an initial vote by February 6.

For more information, please contact Joanna McKee of Green Cross at (206) 780-0630. For more information on the medical uses of marijuana, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Senator Jeanne Kohl may be contacted at (360) 786-7670.

Pot Charges Against Legal Marijuana User Dismissed

January 31, 1996, Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Attorney Norman Elliot Kent announced today that all charges against Elvy Mussika, a 56-year old glaucoma patient from Hollywood, Florida, and one of only eight people in the country allowed by the federal government to use marijuana for medical treatment, have been dropped by the Alachua County State's Attorney's Office.

Musikka was arrested by Gainesville police on December 9, 1995 while performing on stage at the sixth annual Florida Hempfest. Despite having a prescription for marijuana issued to her by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Mussika was arrested after she took out one of her marijuana cigarettes and began smoking. She was dragged off the stage arm-and-arm by two police officers and was later charged with possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct.

"The police just attacked the stage, reached up and grabbed me, and knocked me down," Musikka said. "I was in total shock."

"The State Attorney honorably entered a nolle prosequi [decision not to prosecute] all charges after we presented them with the medical and legal documentation that supported our position," stated Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent.

Musikka says that she will continue to work as a medical marijuana activist.

For more information, please contact either Elvy Musikka at (954) 966-4238 or Attorney Norman Kent at (954) 763-1900.

Trial Date Set In Johann Moore Case

January 25, 1996, New York City, NY: A trial date has been set for April 3, 1996, in the case of Johann Moore, the longtime marijuana activist who was arrested last August when law enforcement officials busted New York City's underground cannabis buyers club. Moore is the coordinator of the club.

At a preliminary hearing, Judge Stolz of Manhattan's Criminal Court chose not to dismiss felony sales charges against Moore. Stolz refused the defense's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the sale took place in a public space and because Moore has no formal training in medicine.

Moore has stated that he has no intention of ceasing operation of the club.

For more information on this case, please contact Cures Not Wars at (212) 677-7180. E-mail: Internet address:

Washington Human Rights Group Criticizes Incoming Drug Czar

January 24, 1996, Washington, DC: The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) released the following statements concerning President Clinton's nomination of Army General Barry R. McCaffrey as the nation's new "Drug Czar."

"General McCaffrey has an impressive record of service to this country," says George R. Vickers, Executive Director of WOLA. "But what is needed is a fundamental shift in U.S. anti-narcotic policies, away from failed military strategies that have had little impact on the supply of illicit drugs coming to the United States."

"Regardless of his personal qualities, McCaffrey's nomination symbolizes the misguided militarization of U.S. drug policy," adds WOLA Senior Associate Colleta Younger, "and suggests a continued erosion of civilian control over law enforcement efforts in this field." As Commander in Chief of the United States Southern Command, General McCaffrey has overseen the U.S. military's anti-narcotics operations in Latin America.

The WOLA has monitored human rights and United States policy in Latin America since 1974 and has produced numerous reports on U.S. anti-narcotics policy in the Andes.

For more information, please contact either Colletta Youngers or Bill Spencer of the Washington Office on Latin America at (202) 544-8054.

CNN Marijuana Special Slated To Air On February 11

January 25, 1996, Atlanta, GA: The much talked about CNN special on marijuana is scheduled to air at 9:00 p.m. EST. Entitled "Higher Times," the feature will explore a comparative analysis of federal marijuana policies in America and Holland. The segment will feature interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and political figures from both countries.

In addition, the special will contain footage of interviews conducted with NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre and Senior Policy Analyst Richard Cowan.

The CNN feature was initially slated to run in late 1995, but was delayed due to scheduling conflicts.




Regional and other news

Body Count

Every Thursday
The Oregonian, in its "Portland" zoned edition, which is delivered to subscribers in the broader central metropolitan area, details those sentenced to jail for felonies by Multnomah County courts. (Portland NORML Director Terry Miller has confirmed with the editors that these tallies are meant to be comprehensive.) Generally 65% to 95% are nonviolent drug offenders. In this week's tally (Feb. 1, 1996), five of nine were sentenced for controlled-substances violations [p. 3M-MP5]. These new inmates are now pretty much unemployable. Statistics and a variety of research on recidivism show a much-higher-than-normal proportion of them will learn in jail that there is little or no chance of returning to jail for crimes against property and, for the first time, will subsequently become real criminals upon their release. A much-higher-than-normal proportion of them will also be introduced to heroin in jail. If you're curious look at "Junk in the Joint: The Real Dope on the Prison Drug Scene," from the January-February issue of "Prison Life."

'Firing Line' Schedules War-On-Drugs Debate

The first of three weekly programs on "Why we should legalize drugs" airs on "Firing Line," reportedly at 10:30 am PST Sunday, Feb. 4th (but check your local listings). William F. Buckley hosts the show, syndicated by the Public Broadcasting Service.

Corporate Heads - High In High Places'

The Metro, a weekly Silicon Valley newspaper, had a feature story last week titled "Corporate Heads: High In High Places." The cover features an executive with a cellular phone, but his head is replaced by a marijuana-pipe bowl being lit up. The front cover subtitle is "Bye-bye tie-dye. Pot smokers today can be found wearing Armani suits and police badges and walking the halls of Congress." The title on the inside is "High in High Places," with a subtitle there of "Where are the baby boomers who inhale? They're running companies, policing streets, and blazing new trails in science. In public they may say no, but it's actually just a show." It goes on to show pictures of unidentifiable business executives smoking pot. The article interviews a variety of business owners and scientists who make over $100,000 per year and who like to smoke pot, on the condition of being anonymous. It mentions the tobacco, alcohol and other funding sources behind the PDFA public service announcements. It mentions Marijuana Anonymous, but quotes one of their counselors saying that some people don't have any problem with pot, they are not addicted, they are "normies." It mentions medical marijuana, and quotes Dr. Lester Grinspoon comparing the prejudice against pot smokers and the danger they face by "coming out" with the problems gay people face. The entire article looks at what would happen if the "corporate heads" and the "normies" were to start coming out as gays have, and how that might affect public sentiment toward people who smoke pot.

First Casualty Is The Truth As General Takes Over Drug War

According to the Wall Street Journal, even though General McCaffrey will have to resign from the army to become the new Drug Czar, Clinton's reason for appointing him was because "he proved to me that we could use the military ... to cut off drugs coming into our country."

That is quite odd, since General McCaffrey is on record as testifying to just the opposite before Congress. As reported in an Associated Press report of Feb. 16, 1995, included in the Hemp News archives at this site:

APn 02/16/95 Drug War

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The multibillion-dollar U.S. war on drugs has done little to stop the flow of cocaine and other narcotics into the United States, a top general told lawmakers Thursday.

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, head of the U.S. Southern Command encompassing all of Latin America, said that despite a well organized and costly counter-drug operation, "these current efforts are not achieving their purpose."

Cocaine remains plentiful on the streets of the United States at stable prices. Production in cocaine-growing regions continues to increase. Organized seizures and destruction of cocaine crops eradicates a tiny fraction of total production.

"A multiyear effort involving substantial resources and enormous energy and creativity," McCaffrey said, "has not had the effect we desired."

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed concern that a $13 billion annual U.S. commitment to the war on drugs has produced so little.

"Your message is candid but very discouraging," said Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev. "I don't see how we impact this overall problem."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., suggested that the Pentagon conduct a "bottom-up review" of its anti-drug efforts and develop new strategies.

The military spends about $700 million contributing to the U.S. counter-drug strategy. Most of the rest of the $13 billion annual drug war budget goes to law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency, and to programs designed to assist other countries combat drug production within their borders.

McCaffrey portrayed an insatiable drug market able to adapt to law enforcement agencies by quickly changing drug routes and methods of production.

"All too often, progress in one area is offset by a negative development elsewhere," McCaffrey said. "As long as there is domestic demand, some entrepreneur will find a way to meet it."

For example, where drug smugglers recently used Guatemala as a way station for cocaine shipments from Colombia to Mexico, smugglers now are skipping the halfway point and using Boeing 727-sized aircraft with multi-ton loads, McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey said the Southern Command, headquartered in Panama, is turning its focus to Peru as the source of 80 percent of the cocaine that reaches America's streets. Having checked rebel insurrection and improved the local economy, McCaffrey said, the government of President Alberto Fujimori "is now ready to tackle narco-trafficking."

While he acknowledged the difficulty of tackling the drug problem, McCaffrey rejected suggestions that it is insurmountable.

"I think part of the problem has been our decision to call it a war," McCaffrey said. "I prefer to think of it as more of a cancer. I don't think about achieving victory but about dealing with the problem."

The new Drug Czar's testimony before Congress, while undercutting his new line, has been confirmed by others who have looked at the problem at length (ask for details if curious). Even if interdiction were effective, the law of unintended consequences would still come into effect. According to Judge James P. Gray of the Orange County, California Superior Court, "...if the demand is still there, the demand will be met. And anybody that has a high-school chemistry education will be able to make synthetic drugs in their garage or in their bathrooms. And then we'll have absolutely no quality control whatsoever, and people will be overdosing on all these synthetic drugs; where at least there's a little bit of quality control with the more natural drugs." (Judge Gray, a crusader to decriminalize all illegal drugs, is interviewed in the current, March 1996 issue of High Times, available in Portland at more than 100 newsstands, gas stations and convenience stores. The interview, "Preaching to the Unconverted" (pp. 58ff), opens, "I'm not Tim Leary....I don't use this stuff. I never will. I'm a conservative judge in a conservative county, and I think I'm positioned for people to be able to listen to the merits of what I'm suggesting."

Mexico's Finest At Work

The Zychik Chronicle, Jan. 31, 1996
(Los Angeles Times) Jose Guiterrez was voted "Policeman of the Year" in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. He was even given his own private car.

Yesterday he was arrested for drug trafficking, after authorities discovered 436 pounds of marijuana in his possession. It wasn't the profits from the war on drugs that corrupted him. It was the car, right?



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