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February 29, 1996

NORML Issues Principles Of Responsible Cannabis Use

February 29, 1995, Washington D.C.: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the nation's oldest and largest interest group dedicated solely to marijuana law reform, has adopted a set of Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use. NORML maintains that when marijuana is enjoyed responsibly, subjecting users to harsh criminal and civil penalties provides no public health benefit and causes terrible injustices. For reasons of public safety, public health, economics, and justice, the prohibition laws should be repealed to the extent that they criminalize responsible marijuana use. The key points to the Principles of Responsible Use are as follows: * Cannabis consumption is for adults only. Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others absolutely are not. Children do not drive cars, enter into contracts or marry, and they must not use drugs.

  • The responsible cannabis user does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery impaired by cannabis. Although cannabis is said by most experts to be safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs with motorists, public safety demands that impaired drivers be taken off the road and that objective measures of impairment be developed and used, rather than chemical testing.
  • The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her setting and regulate use accordingly. The responsible cannabis consumer will be vigilant as to conditions -- time, place, mood, etc. -- and does not hesitate to say "no" when those conditions are not conducive to a safe, pleasant and/or productive experience.
  • Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse and should be resisted by responsible cannabis users. Abuse means harm. Some cannabis use is harmful; most is not. That which is harmful should be discouraged; that which is not need not be.
  • The responsible cannabis user does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis entirely. Regardless of the legal status of cannabis, responsible users will adhere to emerging tobacco smoking protocols in public and private places. For more information on the Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

    Vermont House Of Representatives Approves Hemp Cultivation Legislation

    February 29, 1996, Montpelier, Vermont: Legislation that proposes to permit development of a domestic hemp industry in Vermont (H.783) was approved by the House of Representatives by a voice vote today. The bill had received wide-scale bi-partisan support one day earlier when the second reading was approved by a 108-33 vote. The overwhelming number of votes in favor of the legislation would override the Governor's veto if he chooses to oppose it.

    In the past, Gov. Howard B. Dean has spoken out against hemp cultivation claiming that it would be tantamount to legalizing marijuana.

    The Vermont legislation is similar to a pending Colorado hemp bill introduced by Senator Lloyd Casey (D-Northglenn) and would authorize the University of Vermont to undertake research of industrial hemp production in the state. A key aspect of this research would include growing test plots of industrial hemp.

    The bill is expected to go to the Senate after session tomorrow barring any last minute calls for reconsideration. Legislators note that there appears to be little opposition for the proposal in the Senate.

    Sen. Thomas Bahre (R-Addison), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee told the Vermont Times that he hopes to begin taking testimony on the bill as soon as March 18. "We want to seriously look at whether there is anybody out there to buy this fiber, and what its potential is to create manufacturing jobs," he said. "If it doesn't then I don't see a need to go any further. But, I do think this fiber has the potential to have land produce something that isn't producing milk."

    Often described as "marijuana's misunderstood cousin," industrial hemp is from the same plant species that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its euphoric properties. Industrial hemp is currently grown legally throughout much of Europe and Asia and can be used to produce a variety of products such as cosmetics, textiles, paper, paints, plastics, and animal feed.

    For more information about industrial hemp, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

    Hemp To Be Planted On American Indian Soil

    February 17, 1996, Chandler Heights, AZ: The Coalition for Hemp Awareness (CHA) announced that the Navajo Nation has issued a resolution allowing for hemp cultivation to take place on American Indian soil. CHA has scheduled a spring planting to take place on March 17, 1996.

    The Navaho Hemp Project began in 1992 when activists Jim Robinson and Tom and Carolyn McCormick moved to the reservation for the purpose of introducing hemp cultivation on sovereign soil. The trio were so successful in their education campaign that the resolution was passed by the Navajo Nation with a unanimous vote of 30-0.

    Although over 30,000 acres of the Navajo Nation have been allocated for hemp cultivation, CHA's initial planting will be limited to a small seed bank crop. In addition, CHA states that the organization is close to securing approval for similar cultivation projects from ten other tribes located across the United States.

    The Coalition for Hemp Awareness was founded in 1991 to incite the rapid return of cannabis hemp as an agricultural base crop. CHA is a political advocacy network group that assimilates and disseminates hemp information to both politicians and the public.

    For more information on the Coalition for Hemp Awareness or the Navajo Hemp Project, please contact CHA @ (602) 988-9355 or write to: P.O. Box 9068, Chandler Heights, AZ 85227. CHA can be contacted on the Internet @:

    Illinois Supreme Court Finds Cannabis Tax Stamps Unconstitutional

    February 15, 1996, Illinois: The Illinois Supreme Court has declared that the application of the state's Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act in the case a defendant who had previously plead guilty to drug possession charges constitutes double jeopardy under the United States Constitution.

    This decision follows closely on the heels of similar rulings reached by both an Arizona trial court and the Indiana Supreme Court.

    Writing the opinion of the court, Justice Harrison rejected the state's argument that the application of the Illinois act is not contingent upon commission of a crime. "Under the Act, the only persons liable for the tax are 'dealers,'" the justice writes. "[T]o be a 'dealer' within the meaning of the statute, one must have carried out certain enumerated acts 'in violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Cannabis Control Act,' both of which are criminal statutes. [Hence,] by the terms of the Act, criminal conduct is a prerequisite to tax liability. ..." ... [Consequently,] because the Department of Revenue cannot determine whether a person is a 'dealer' subject to the tax unless and until that person had been found guilty of the underlying criminal offense, the Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act not only assumes that a crime has been committed, it also presupposes that the offending party has been arrested, charged and convicted. In this regard, the act ... [is] a form of punishment for double jeopardy."

    For more information on this case, please refer to Docket No. 77708 (Keith Robert Wilson v The Department Of Revenue), filed February 15, 1996. For more information on cannabis tax stamps, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

    California Medical Marijuana Initiative Heads Toward November State Ballot

    February 26, 1996, Santa Monica, CA: An initiative to legalize the medical use of marijuana appears headed for the November 1996 California ballot thanks to crucial last-minute financial support from a group of major donors.

    The new donations make it likely that supporters will garner the necessary number of signatures by the April 20 deadline to place the initiative on the ballot.

    Initiative organizers were elated by the gift and expressed confidence that voters would approve the measure. Polls indicate that a solid majority of Californians support the medicinal legalization of marijuana. The current medical marijuana initiative would guarantee the right of patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if they possess a physician's recommendation.

    Medical marijuana has remained illegal despite growing acceptance in the health care community of its efficacy in the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and muscle spasticity. Under current state law, Californians who cultivate marijuana for medicinal use may be subject to up to three years in state prison.

    The 1996 medical marijuana initiative has been endorsed by the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and West Hollywood; the Santa Cruz and Marin Boards of Supervisors; the California Nurses Association; the Los Angeles AIDS Commission, the California Multiple Sclerosis Society, the California Seniors' Legislature, and many other organizations and public leaders.

    According to statements made to the New York Times by Dennis Peron, Director of the California Medical Marijuana Initiative, the all-volunteer signature drive has gathered approximately 200,000 signatures to date. The coalition must collect 600,000 signatures by April 20 to place the initiative on the November ballot.

    For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (510) 540-1066 or Scott Imler of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (310) 314-4049.

    Cincinnati Buyers Club Founder Takes Offensive Following Police Raid

    February 29, 1996, Covington, KY: Richard Evans, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club -- one of an estimated 30 underground clubs located across the country that supplies marijuana as a therapeutic to seriously ill patients who possess a physician's recommendation -- has taken the offensive since his home was raided by police on February 16. Evans' home served as the headquarters for the club which distributed marijuana to approximately 30 patients.

    Evans and his attorney, marijuana activist Gatewood Galbraith, held a press conference on the Covington courthouse steps at the Kenton County Municipal Building to protest the police action. "If they want to make this the battle [for medical marijuana clubs,] then we're ready to do battle," Galbraith told the press. "Only a fascist nation would keep this premiere medicine from the hands of seriously ill patients ... for whom it is the best therapy." Even though Evan's house was raided over one week ago and marijuana was confiscated, law enforcement officials have yet to produce a warrant for Evans' arrest. Even so, Evans' case and subsequent press conference have drawn an exceptional amount of favorable press coverage including features in the Kentucky Post, Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, and at least two television news stations. Covington police have refused to comment on the situation.

    "I am sick of living in a country where I can't be free," summarized Evans.

    "Give me liberty or give me death. We are going to have a cannabis buyers club."

    For more information on the Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club, please contact Americans for Compassionate Use @ (606) 431-8719. For more information on medical marijuana and cannabis buyers clubs, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.



    Regional and other news

    Portland Hemp Fest

    The second annual celebration will take place at the grassy and tree-shaded Holladay Park near Lloyd Center on Saturday, June 22 - the longest day of the year. For details contact Jeff or Siouxsie Crawford, official producers of the 1996 Portland Hemp Fest (as well as the producers of the Billboard Award-winning
    Bohemia Afterdark alternative music-video show aired 1 am Sundays on KPDX Fox 49). Their phone number is (503) 224-9575. The Crawfords produced last year's festival while on work-release after being busted for cultivating cannabis, which both used medicinally. Out-of-towners should make their reservations now - the Red Lion Inn at Lloyd Center is just one nearby accommodation. The official Portland Park Bureau estimate of attendance last year was 15,000. No arrests or significant disturbances took place - more than the Rose Festival folks can say. The emphasis of this year's festival will be on collecting signatures for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 1997 and generating enough publicity to spur petitioners around the state to mail their signatures in by June 28. (The petition sheets must be processed and delivered to Salem by July 5.) Continuous music by a national act and top local bands is planned, plus vendors selling hemp foods, clothing, paper and other old and new hemp products.

    Body Count

    The "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area, shows that of nine felons sentenced to jail or prison this week by Multnomah County courts, six were controlled-substance violators. (Feb. 29, 1996, p. 6, 3M-MP-SE). On Jan. 30, Multnomah County Commissioners Sharron Kelley and Gary Hansen wrote an op-ed piece in The Oregonian stating that "The single driving force behind our crime problems is drug use. ... Currently, 68 percent of the males entering Multnomah County jails test positive for illegal drugs; 75 percent of the females entering our jails test positive for drugs." Then The Oregonian ran a story Sunday, Feb. 25 reporting that "1 in 3 violent crimes gets resolved" by Portland police, placing the Rose City among the country's biggest 25 burgs with the worst such rate. (p. D4) One supposes, statistically, drug use, as distinct from abuse, is our biggest crime problem, since a lot more than one-third of all such scofflaws go unprosecuted.

    Let's Do The Numbers

    According to the current standard reference, the preliminary 1994 government-funded National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (, "The current illicit drug use rate ranged from 6.6 percent in the West region to 5.1 percent in the Northeast region." (This is for ages 12 and older, within the past month. Many if not most nongovernment experts put the figure at closer to 10 percent.) In Multnomah County, whose current population is 626,500 (according to the Center for Population Research and Census at PSU), 6.6 percent means 41,349 people. Discounting, say, a generous 20 percent to account for those age 11 and younger (I'll have to get a more accurate figure from the Census people), the number of illegal drug users in Multnomah County is 33,079. Of those, 61 percent use marijuana only, and another 20 percent use pot and another illegal drug[s], or 20,178 and 6,616 respectively. The other 19 percent use hard drugs only. Multnomah County now has a court-ordered ceiling of 1,371 jail beds, plus 480 more if the May 21 bond measure passes, for a potential 1,851. There are currently 24.127 substance offenders in Multnomah County for every jail cell. With 1,851 cells there would be 17.87 substance offenders for each bed.

    That Must Be Some Computer

    According to a Feb. 29 Oregonian staff editorial ironically titled "Keep jail measure lean" (p. B10), the new Multnomah County jail bonds will cost $79 million, or $134 million with interest, for 480 new cells, and "expansion of existing jails, new alcohol and drug centers [i.e. rehab slots for 150 inmates] and the sheriff's computer upgrading." The average cost per cell is $164,583.33, or $279,166.66 with interest. That's almost three times what the legislature paid for new prison spaces a month ago, $94.2 million for 1,486 new cells, or $63,391 per cell.

    Lock 'Em Up And Throw Away The Budget

    At the current rate, building jail cells for all the illegal-drug users in Multnomah County would cost $164,583.33 multiplied by 33,079, or $5,444,251.90 - about $5.4 billion, or $9.2 billion with interest. Just building spaces for all the traffickers, usually estimated at 10 percent of users, would cost $540 million, or $923 million with interest.

    "Oh, Cannabis"

    Lars Larson scooped the rest of Portland's major media (eight months after the event) with a "Northwest Reports" feature Feb. 25 about Vancouver, B.C.'s new, tolerant drug-law policies. The weekly regional news show, broadcast by Portland's KPTV Channel 12, where Larson is a news co-anchor, did almost all its shooting for "Oh, Cannabis" in Vancouver and focused on Hemp BC owner Marc Emery, the bustling pot industry there and the still-unsettled ambiguities and ironies that police and hemp enthusiasts are gradually resolving, without much apparent help from politicians or the media. IMHO, the feature may have dwelled disproportionately on teen-age Vancouver pot smokers, who were never threatened with jail anyway. Conspicuously absent were any details about whether crime and violence have waxed or waned since June 18, 1995, when the Vancouver Sunday Province broke the news that federal authorities had quit prosecuting possession cases there.

    Interesting quotes:

    NW Reports: "Not that the Mounties don't get their cultivator from time to time, but when it's time to go to court..."

    RCMP Drug Enforcement Team Constable John Ibitzen [sp?]: "A marijuana operation with a hundred plants would probably receive a $2,000 fine."


    Marc Emery: "There hasn't been a conviction for a controlled substance in Vancouver for about seven months, of any kind, like marijuana, cocaine, heroin. they don't prosecute possession charges."

    NW Reports: "Emery has a theory about why the courts and prosecutors don't press harder when it comes to pot."

    Emery: "Seventy percent of undergraduates who take law smoke pot. They're the highest pot-consuming people in universities and now they're all the judges and they're all the prosecutors, so there's no political will in those departments to continue this prosecution of marijuana users when a lot of them have experience with this themselves."

    [End of excerpts]

    The purported motive of self-interest would seem to ignore why prosecutions for other illegal drugs are also now considered counterproductive.

    The Most Addictive Drug

    While perusing the statistics in the 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (see above), you might run across this: "The data indicate that pregnant women have more difficulty trying to reduce their cigarette use than their alcohol or illicit drug use." According to "Collateral Casualties" Climb in Drug War, by Andrew A. Skolnick in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 1, 1994, Volume 271, No. 21, pp. 1636-1639), "Media-generated hysteria over 'crack babies' has led to the imprisonment of women who use cocaine during pregnancy. Many health care workers believe that the fear of prosecution and imprisonment discourages many of the women who most need prenatal care from seeking it (JAMA.1990;264:309-310). Ironically, properly controlled scientific studies suggest maternal cocaine use may pose less danger to a fetus than maternal cigarette smoking (JAMA, 1994;271:576-577)."

    More JAMA Flak

    Marnie Regen comments:
    [The various media reports about the] recent JAMA study examining college students' marijuana use and its effect on cognitive processes offered little to the reader other than implications and guesses about marijuana use. I offer the following evidence in an effort to educate readers about the statements:
    "People who smoke marijuana heavily may have trouble paying attention" and "Marijuana's aftereffects on thinking might result from drug residue in the brain." In October 1995, Doctors Lynn Zimmer and John P. Morgan released a review of research entitled Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence." They cite a study done in 1979 by H.C. Miranne called "Marijuana Use and Achievement Orientations of College Students" (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 1979, pp 194-199) in which they summarize: "In one longitudinal study of college students, after controlling for other factors, marijuana users were found to have higher grades than non-users and to be equally as likely to successfully complete their educations. Another study found that marijuana users in college scored higher than non-users on standardized 'achievement values' scales."

    Regarding the presumed physical damage to the brain by "drug residue," the authors state: "No post-mortem examinations of the brains of human marijuana users have ever been conducted. However, numerous studies have explored marijuana's effect on brain-related cognitive functions... In a number of studies, no significant differences were detected. In fact there is substantial research demonstrating that marijuana intoxification does not impair the retrieval of information learned previously." If the media intends to manipulate drug studies for political reasons, I suggest to the public that they seek out a more balanced account of prevailing drug research. Offering statements with words like "may" and "might" only serve as propaganda, and prevents the public from making informed decisions about drug use.

    [End of Marnie Regen's commentary]

    Drinking To Forget

    The following is from the Prevention Research Institute and concerns impaired abstract thinking. From "On Campus... Talking About Alcohol." The Prevention Research Institute's phone number is (606) 223-3392. The address: 841 Corporate Drive, Suite 300, Lexington, KY 40503
    "The impaired abstract thinking does not clear up once all the alcohol is out of the system. It can last up to thirty days after getting drunk."


    Parker, Elizabeth; Birenbaum, Isabel; Boyd, Romemary and Noble; Ernest. "Neuropshychologic decrements as a function of alcohol intake in male students." Alcoholism Clin and Exper Res4: 330-334, 1980.

    Parker, Elisabeth and Noble, Ernest "Alcohol and the aging process in social drinkers." Journal for Studies on Alcohol 41: 170-178, 1980.

    Parker, Elizabeth; Parker, Douglas; Brody, Jacob; and Schoenberg, Ronald. "Cognitive patterns resembling premature aging in male social drinkers." Alcoholism: Clinical Exper Res 6: 46-52, 1982.

    Hannon R, Day Cl, Butler AM, Larson AJ and Casey M; Alcohol Consumption and cognitive functioning in college students; Journal of Studies of Alcohol, 44:283-298, 1983.

    Hannon R; Butler CP, Day CL, Khan BS, Quitoriano LA, Butler AM and Meredith LA; Social Drinking and Cognitive Funtioning in College Students: A Replication and Reversibility Study; Journal of Studies of Alcohol, 48:502-506, 1987.

    The authors, Ray Daugherty & Terry O'Bryan, point out that abstract mental ability refers to the ability, among other things, learn complicated plays on an athletic team.

    Penultimate Parting Shot

    Robert I. Block, an associate professor in the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Iowa's College of Medicine, sums it up: "There is far more extensive, consistent evidence of mental deficits associated with heavy use of alcohol." The Des Moines Register, Weds., Feb. 21, 1996, p. 1M.

    The Last Word

    The Harvard Medical Practice Study Group hypothesizes that 150,000 to 300,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year by doctors or hospitals. The group produced a study in 1990 of hospitals in the New York City area titled "Patients, Doctors and Lawyers: Medical Injury, Malpractice Litigation and Patient Compensation in New York." They extrapolated the national numbers from the numbers in New York.

    War Of Attrition

    According to the San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 26, 1996 "News in Brief":
    Drug seizures reportedly rose 25% last year.

    The Customs Service, trying to blunt criticism that it fails to stop drugs from being shipped into the United States in cargo trucks, announced Sunday that its drug seizures at the US-Mexican border jumped 25 percent last year.

    If border interdiction stops 10 percent of all drug smuggling, as former Drug Czar Lee Brown stated last year, U.S. Customs must presumably expend twice the resources to double its success, while drug producers only have to increase their production 10 percent to make up the shortfall. I have an interesting interactive game for us now. I am curious whether retail Mexican cannabis prices in Portland and elsewhere around the country are stable, rising or falling. If you know somebody who is reasonably confident they're getting Mexican cannabis, please poll them and send me a brief note with the header "tally" and a simple message such as "rising Portland" or "falling Portland, Maine" and maybe how recent the fluctuations, if any, happened. Don't bother with prices, just the trend. Watch out for normal fluctuations due to normal seasonal variations. I guess in that case the appropriate response would be "stable." I'll assume nobody on the list breaks the law and all your responses are from third parties who are credible to you. This won't be a major scientific study, but it should make for an interesting paragraph next week.



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