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. . . a weekly service on news related to marijuana prohibition.

March 14, 1996

Oakland City Council Issues Resolution Supporting Medical Marijuana

March 12, Oakland, CA: The Oakland City Council has unanimously passed a resolution (#72516) endorsing Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) federal medical marijuana legislation, supporting the activities of the
Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, and declaring the arrest of individuals involved with the medical use of marijuana to be a low priority for the city of Oakland.

The main points of the resolution are as follows:

  • Marijuana has been shown to help pain and discomfort in people suffering from a variety of illnesses including AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain when no other medications have been effective.
  • The illegal purchase of marijuana by people already suffering with chronic illnesses subjects them to further suffering in the form of potential arrest and prosecution.
  • The Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Club provides a way for patients needing to purchase marijuana for medical use to do so with greater ease and less risk of arrest and prosecution.
  • The City of Oakland wishes to declare its desire not to expend City resources in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the possession, cultivation, and/or distribution of marijuana for medical use.
  • The Oakland City Council authorizes the City Manager to instruct the City's federal lobbyist to work in support of H.R. 2618 -- a bill in Congress that would amend the federal law to allow a physician to legally prescribe marijuana as a therapeutic agent to seriously ill patients.

    For more information on Oakland City Council resolution #72516, please contact Attorney Robert A. Raich @ (510) 420-1137. For more information on the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club, please contact Jeff Jones @ (510) 832-5346.

    Twice As Many Defendants Imprisoned For Marijuana Possession
    Under Tough 'Three Strikes' Law Than For Violent Crimes, Study Indicates

    March 6, 1996, San Francisco, CA: More than twice as many defendants have been sentenced to stiff prison sentences under California's "three strikes and you're out" law than have murderers, rapists, and kidnappers combined, according to a recent study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco.

    Overall, the report concluded that 85 percent of those sentenced under the law had been convicted most recently of a non-violent offense. Of those 85 percent, 192 individuals were sentenced under the law after being convicted of marijuana possession while in custody (a felony offense in California) as compared to only 40 who were convicted of murder, 25 of rape, and 24 of kidnapping.

    To be prosecuted under the stringent California law, a defendant must have been convicted of at least one or more serious violent crimes in the past.

    However, the most recent offense need not be a violent crime -- only a felony. The law mandates double the normal sentence for anyone convicted of a second felony and life sentence for any individual convicted of a third felony.

    "People are going to jail in America for possessing marijuana," stated NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "As this report clearly illustrates, the sentences can potentially be for life. This sort of illogical and fiscally irresponsible mandatory sentencing must end."

    For more information on the numbers of marijuana users behind bars, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. For a copy of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Report, please call (415) 621-5661.

    Vocal Medical Marijuana Activist, User Busted Following Television Appearance

    March, 1996, Sunny View, NC: A medical marijuana activist who had received extensive media coverage for her vocal support of the medicinal use of marijuana was recently arrested by law enforcement officials and charged with various drug charges including possession with intent to manufacture a controlled substance.

    Jean Marlowe, president of the Marijuana Relegalization Movement, told local newscasters in a television interview that she smoked marijuana at least three times a day to obtain therapeutic relief from three orthopedic conditions she suffers from: degenerative disc disease, reflect sympathetic dystrophy, and osteoarthritis. Days later, local law enforcement officials raided the Marlowe residence and found approximately 50 marijuana seedlings.

    Marlowe maintains that the seized seedlings were being grown for her own medical use and intends to sue both the state and federal government for legal medical access to marijuana.

    "No one sick or suffering should have to endure the added stress of living in fear of being searched, jailed, or prosecuted," Marlowe said. "I want this medicine available for every American citizen that needs it! Nobody should have to perform a criminal act to obtain a safe, natural medicine." To support her argument, Marlowe notes that she has letters from two separate physicians confirming her use of medical marijuana. In addition, Marlowe has an official notice from the Social Security Administration stating that "she ... relies on marijuana to relieve her symptoms and smokes three grams per day."

    "I will get medical access or an exemption to grow my own [cannabis] before I'm through," Marlowe affirmed. "How dare our legislators sit up there in Washington and bicker among themselves and treat the very citizens who put them [there] so very heartlessly."

    For more information, please contact Jean Marlowe @ (704) 625-2958.

    Washington State Activists File 1996 Hemp Initiative

    March 1996, Olympia, WA: A final version of the 1996 Washington Hemp Initiative has been approved by the Washington State Attorney General. If successful, the initiative, now known officially as Initiative 663, would require the state to replace existing policies prohibiting cannabis with a system of regulation and taxation similar to that of alcohol. The initiative has until July 8th to gather the 189,000 signatures from registered Washington voters necessary to place the bill on the upcoming ballot.

    The 1996 Hemp Initiative is a comprehensive initiative dealing with industrial, medicinal, and recreational hemp. Industrial hemp is defined by the initiative as having less than .5 percent THC and is to be regulated as a non-intoxicating agricultural commodity. Medicinal cannabis is allowed to be distributed by prescription from drug stores and pharmacies. Regulations regarding the use of recreational and/or intoxicating hemp (read: marijuana) are modeled after the laws regulating alcohol and permits adults over 21 to consume cannabis as long as they do so responsibly. In addition, minors will not be allowed where marijuana is grown, sold, or consumed.

    Tom Rohan, state coordinator for the initiative drive, notes that petition organizers have over 3,000 volunteers to help gather signatures.

    For more information, please contact the Hemp Initiative Hotline @ (206) 548-8043. A complete text of the 1996 Hemp Initiative is available on the Internet @

    Bill To Eliminate Arizona Tax Stamp Legislation Pulled For Time Being

    March 12, 1996, Phoenix, AZ: An amendment that would delete Arizona's cannabis tax and licensing program was pulled by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Scott Bungaard (R-Glendale). Bungaard plans to reintroduce the amendment next week.

    Bungaard's move to repeal Arizona's tax stamp legislation stems from a November 1995 ruling by Northwest Phoenix Court Justice Judge John Barclay that dismissed charges against Arizona NORML Chairman Peter Wilson because of evidence that he was licensed by the state to sell marijuana. Basing his decision on constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy, Judge Barclay concluded that Wilson could not be prosecuted for possession of marijuana because of taxes he had already paid the Arizona Department of Revenue to sell cannabis. The state is currently appealing the decision.

    "Having this law gives the appearance that we have decriminalized [marijuana] use in this state," Rep. Bungaard said.

    "If the legislature allows Rep. Bungaard to submit a new bill, it will open this issue up to public debate within both the House and Senate," said Bill Green of Arizona NORML. "Our goal is to be well organized so that we [can] actively [lobby the legislature] at that time." For more information, please contact AZ4NORML @ (602) 921-2724. Information regarding Arizona Cannabis Tax Stamps can also be found on the Internet @



    Regional and other news

    Body Count

    The "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
    Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area, shows that of 17 felons sentenced to jail or prison by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week, nine were controlled-substance offenders. (March 14, 1996, p. 5, 3M-MP). For 1996, that makes 67 of 115 felons sentenced to terms by Multnomah Courts, or 58.26 percent.

    Portland NORML Meeting March 27

    The March meeting of the Portland chapter of NORML will begin 7:30 pm Wednesday, March 27, at the Phantom Gallery, 3125 SE Belmont St. Everyone is welcome. More details: (503) 235-4524.

    Call For Petitioners

    Volunteer signature-gatherers for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 1997 are invited to attend training sessions at noon every Saturday-Sunday for the duration at the Phantom Gallery, 3125 SE Belmont St. (Tri-Met Route 15). The gallery is also open to activists 10 am-3 pm Mondays-Fridays. OCTA is now more than half way to collecting 100,000 signatures. (About 74,000 is the technical requirement.) July 5 is when signatures must be turned in at Salem. For more information call (503) 235-4606.

    Big Hitters

    Since Portland NORML's softball team placed first in its league last year, we hope to get only bigger and better. There has been some talk this year about forming additional teams: Co-ed (recreational); Co-ed (Competitive); Over 40 Team; and Modified Fast Pitch Team. If you are interested in playing on the existing team or one of the new crews contact Director T.D. "Babe" Miller at (503) 777-9088. The first Portland NORML bowling team is also forming. Contact Wheeler @ (503) 760-0540 for details. (This guy routinely scores near 250...)

    Multnomah County Jail Bonds and Levy II

    Perhaps out of fear it will botch the May 21 vote for new-jail bonds, The Oregonian reversed itself again Wednesday, asserting in a staff editorial that there is "more crime" in Portland after all, not less. Unfortunately, the Northwest's largest daily still refuses to present any credible evidence to support a rational opinion either way. I guess we're supposed to take their word for it, but which word?

    Despite the sheriff's own recent statistics showing the opposite, "Still releasing prisoners" (p. B10) insisted there is a "need for more cells to stop the premature release of prisoners due solely to overcrowded jails."

    The Oregonian seemed to be either quoting from or responding to last week's Portland NORML press release ( when it said that "More than 530 prisoners were released due to lack of cell space last April." Yet the editorial used vastly different numbers than NORML's when it said the prisoner-release numbers have been trimmed only to "fewer than 200," not the 15 cited in the sheriff's own figures for December 1995. Did the editorial writer really do some original research to find more recent numbers than December 1995? If so, why wasn't that new source cited so everyone who's been reading the Portland NORML press releases could understand "200" wasn't a sheer fabrication? And what happened to make the number of releases jump from 15 in December to anywhere near 200 in March? Only 115 new felons have been sentenced since Jan. 1. (See "Body Count," above.)

    Even the editorial doesn't really believe the jail bonds and levy make sense: "It would not address the court and prosecutor overload, which backs up prisoners in the jail system. Judges and the district attorney must work with the commissioners and Legislature to deal with that problem."

    That is quite an odd statement. With The Oregonian's blessing, the legislature just got through plundering the rest of the state budget for the second time in a decade to fund $94.2 million for 1,486 new jail and prison beds. The lion's share, for Multnomah County, funds more than twice even the 200 jail beds cited by the editorial writer. However, it's true the jail bonds and levy don't address our real problem. Our real problem is that, of the "70 percent of the prisoners in county jails [who] are felony offenders," almost 60 percent are sentenced for nonviolent victimless drug offenses. Even 480 new beds (at more than a quarter-million dollars each!) will incarcerate only a small, probably insignificant percentage of illegal-drug offenders in Multnomah County.

    What is really annoying about "Still releasing prisoners" is that, while it offers no new evidence and seems to misrepresent the sheriff's own statistics on record, it makes a transparently phony call for an open examination of the evidence: "The citizen grand jury [which disbanded before the current decline in prisoner releases became apparent] did a lot of research for its report to the public. Voters would serve themselves by doing the same in the weeks prior to making their May 21 decisions on the county's public safety measures."

    We're still waiting to see The Oregonian print an honest review of any credible "research" justifying new jails. So far the paper has not printed a single letter opposing the May 21 bond measure, let alone any articles with much information that could be used to undercut the new-jails campaign.

    It is odd, too, how the current crisis in funding Portland public schools is being reported without reference to our drug policy. Tax revenue has been increasing steadily for years, yet education budgets constantly shrink while "public safety" budgets swell. Forget Social Security. The "third rail" of American politics is drug policy, or so the mass media would have us believe. Inevitably the taxpayers will wake up, but perhaps if The Oregonian squelches any discussion of the issue for another 10 years, it won't be until they're faced with a choice between the drug war and Social Security. Of course, Oregonian editors and reporters have 401k accounts now, so don't expect them to care about that, either, when the time comes.

    The Candidates Weigh In

    The editor sent out some e-mail soliciting statements Wednesday from those online candidates for Portland, Multnomah County, state and federal offices who were listed in an Oregonian roundup on candidates' filings in that day's paper (p. B2). Three responses have come in so far, all included verbatim:

    [1. Paul Shene III, candidate for Portland mayor]

    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 20:18:52 -0800
    From: Paul Shene
    Subject: Re: Portland NORML weekly press release (3/7/96)
    X-UIDL: 43eb3698041b3d9145d35f278f66e471

    At 06:37 PM 3/13/96 -0800, you wrote:
    >Whatever your opinions on issues pertaining to drug
    >policy reform, you are personally invited also to make a statement for the
    >weekly press release about where you stand and possible drug-policy
    >ramifications if your candidacy is successful.

    Thank you for your very kind invitation. I'll make periodic statements for your benefit.

    Altough I am NOT in favor of outright leaglization, I do believe
    enforcement priorities are far too skewed toward victimless crimes while
    neglecting the more pervasive property crimes in the Portland Metro region, ie auto theft.

    >As a cyber-connected
    >candidate for public office, I invite you also to examine the World Wide Web
    >pages for Portland NORML at: and the
    >pages of the Drug Reform Coordination Network at

    Excellent, I'll check them out.

    >I'd be glad to email copies of back press releases to you, also. Again,
    >there is a lot of solid local and regional information contained therein
    >that should be of interest to any candidate for local public office. For
    >example, the staff editorial in today's (March 13) Oregonian titled "Still
    >releaseing prisoners" (p. B10) can really be understood only after reading
    >the items in the ensuing press release titled "Multnomah County jail bonds
    >and levy" and "What's going on here?" The weekly press release is generally
    >distributed between Thursday night and Saturday morning. A shorter 4-page
    >press release is also available by fax.

    Send this info to me via email... also check out my website

    Paul Shene for Mayor
    3630 SE 39th #16
    Portland Oregon 97202
    (503) 235-2853

    [2. Dale E. Sherbourne, Portland city council candidate]

    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 03:46:10 -0500 (EST)
    Subject: Re: Portland NORML weekly press release (3/7/96)
    X-VMS-To: IN%""
    X-UIDL: 6b559bdc6bce96f0f908897f14206863

    thx isupport the legalization of marajana and for other drugs isupport the free distribution for those who register as users to be distru ibted thru mds also support the growing of hemp for fiber to ease the presure off our forests for pulp and our agricultural land for fiber.
    have had the campaigbn people on the show for the initiative that would legalize the growing of hemp I dont' use but am sypathetic to those that do for personel or medical purposes.
    the amount of money that would be saved in stopping this war on drugw is insane and needs to be hammered home and hemp products meed to flood the market
    They're cheaper and better all the way around.
    useyour mailing list to endorse me
    motto: it's the enviorment stupid

    [3. Tom O'Connor, Portland city council candidate:]

    Date: Thu, 14 Mar 96 05:40:46 -0800
    From: Talltom
    Subject: (no subject)
    X-UIDL: ac6bb8368615ce4cc9044ca1f1829955

    I'm well aware of the positions of norml, and AAL. I don't feel that your
    subscribing me to your newspaper will enlighten me any, and have not
    requested it in any way. While I agree in general on some of your views,
    your manners suck. I don't appreciate the way many in the legalization
    crowd behave so while I support their right to be and act as they do, I
    distinctly do not want to have to listen to, have my computer endlessly
    cluttered with the prattle, or be around the results.

    dedicated to the
    preservation of personal
    and property rights for
    everybody, you too.


    "Report Tallies State's Drug, Alcohol Toll"

    That's the headline of an Oregonian article appearing March 14 on page E5.

    Unfortunately, the article is so badly written we'll have to ask Jeffrey N. Kushner, director of the state Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, for a copy to find out most of what the report really says.

    Typical Oregonian reporting: "At least one in 16 Oregon adults - an estimated 253,000 residents - abuse or are dependent on alcohol or drugs." Let's see. Is that 245,000 boozers and 8,000 illegal-drug abusers or vice-versa or what? How is "abuse" defined? The government often defines any use of illegal drugs as "abuse," but the term itself is obviously abused beyond meaning.

    The state report, based on a telephone survey of nearly 8,400 randomly selected Oregon households ["Hello. I'm from the state government. Yeah, the one building all the new prisons. Have you engaged in any felonious behavior recently for which we could confiscate your household, throw you in jail and put your kids in foster care?"], "found that 6.3 percent of the state's adults may be classified as dependent on alcohol or drugs and that 5.7 percent may be classified as abusing those substances." (Presumably caffeine dependency was not included so the results would conform to popular prejudices. But what about dependency on prescription drugs, which kill 26,000 Americans a year?) So "abuse" is somehow worse than "dependency," but only a statistically insignificant 0.6 percent of the population who are "dependent" are not also "abusers." You will receive the official definition and some meaningful numbers if a copy of the report can be obtained.

    Now get this: "The good news: Alcohol and drug treatment programs not only work but also save the taxpayers a bundle." This is news?

    Entirely missing from "Report tallies state's drug, alcohol toll" is any acknowledgment of prohibition's role in the scheme of things. For example, one of the best indicators of many drug addicts' eventual success in rehabilitating themselves is whether they can hold onto a rewarding job or career. Putting people in jail for drugs, even with coerced treatment, therefore often leads to a worse outcome than doing nothing at all. (If hard-drug addicts live long enough, which most do, the vast majority also outgrow their addiction without any treatment at all by their late 30s, another important factor entirely missing from The Oregonian presentation.)

    In Sweden, compulsory treatment for drug abusers has failed miserably. Social physician Gunnar Agren has been researching the results of Sweden's compulsory programs since 1987. His results show that of those unfortunate enough to be forced into treatment, up to 10 percent die of drug abuse after they've been released, compared to a death rate of 3 percent in untreated street users.

    According to The Oregonian, Mr. Kushner acknowledges that "treatment facilities around Oregon are full and have long waiting lists." Since we know we can fund at least seven outpatient drug-rehabilitation slots for every such space we fund in a jail or prison, wouldn't it make more sense to ensure outpatient programs are fully funded before prison programs are?

    County commissioners and The Oregonian insist that illegal drugs cause other, real crime, and have lobbied long and hard for lots of new forced-rehabilitation slots in state and local jails and prisons. But why? Even if only one in seven outpatients was kept from committing real crimes, the benefit to society would be greater. Perhaps no one even considered what has worked well elsewhere - letting addicts avoid jail if they make sufficient progress in outpatient rehab. I guess we'll have to wait for The Oregonian to get used to the idea that treatment "works" before it tackles the real issues.

    But don't be too surprised if The Oregonian reverses itself next week and decides treatment doesn't work after all.

    A Major Victory

    The following appears in the Monday, March 11 issue of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly in "Treatment, Prevention Seen as Middle Ground in Drug Debate": "David Noffs, past president of Drug Watch International, says that the time has come for a serious discussion of alternatives to the war on drugs."

    "The Economic Case Against Drug Prohibition"

    The article by Jeffrey A. Miron and Jeffrey Zwiebel, from the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1995, pages 175-192) can be read on the World Wide Web at

    A lot of sober economic evidence and statistics show why drug prohibition is ruining our economy and making our drug problems worse.

    60 Minutes Spotlights Nullification

    CBS' 60 Minutes broadcast a piece on jury nullification March 10 featuring Paul Butler, the Georgetown law professor and former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. who has stirred up a hornet's nest with a recent controversial article suggesting it might be appropriate for disenfranchised African-American (and other) jurors to acquit blacks who commit victimless crimes. Butler's article was written in the context of an American criminal justice system that targets the black community at a pathologically disproportionate rate. CBS gave the history of nullification starting with the Civil War, but the principle of juror immunity was embedded in Common Law even before the American Revolution. CBS reported how both whites and blacks have been helped and harmed by nullification. The Marion Barry case and the Rodney King and Reginald Denny beating cases were cited as examples. But Mike Wallace seemed incredulous that someone was talking about this idea as a reasonable response.

    Besides the Fugitive Slave Act, bad laws have been enacted and nullified throughout our history. Some of the other nonsense that has been halted by jury nullification includes: 1) preaching heresy; 2) the death penalty for bank fraud (otherwise known as bad checks); 3) the death penalty for witchcraft in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts; and 4) alcohol Prohibition.

    The dirty little secret is that nullification can also be practiced by prosecutors, who in fact do so regularly right here in the Beaver State, as described in The Sunday Oregonian recently by columnist Steve Duin. Click on the full text

    Zychik Chronicle, March 11, 1996

    "Under the guise of truth"
    "(FIJA Mailing List) Those of you who watched 60 Minutes last nite, may have seen professor Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, call on Black juries to vote not guilty when non-violent charges are brought against Black defendants. Sickee Minutes said that besides voting not guilty on drug charges, professor Butler was advocating not guilty verdicts for black defendants charged with burglary. This is a typical Mike-story-over-facts-Wallace distortion. The following is from an article of professor Butler's Washington Post editorial: "I argue that punishment does not make sense if its purpose is social protection. It is rational to isolate people who kill, rape, or steal from others. . . I am thinking of so-called victimless crimes, especially drug offenses."

    Comment: Hype and hate sell. If the Liars at CBS had quoted professor Butler accurately, their story would not have generated as much racial hatred as the lie they broadcasted will." [End of Zychik quote.]

    "Mendocino Supervisor - Legalize Pot"

    by Mike Geniella
    Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat Bureau, March 13, 1996

    UKIAH - Mendocino County Supervisor John Pinches on Tuesday called for legalization of marijuana, arguing that government efforts to control the infamous cash crop have only driven up pot's value and attracted big-time dealers.

    "It's the best government price-support system going, with only the criminals benefiting," said Pinches. ....

    [The rest of the board voted to continue the state-financed campaign]

    Pinches, a cattleman, timberland owner and lifelong resident of the backwoods, said the millions of dollars the state has poured into anti-marijuana efforts over the last 10 years have been wasted. ....

    [One of the other supervisors is for legalization, but as long as it is illegal and people in his district are having problems with violence, etc., he wants the state help.]

    Pinches said politically it's easier to back a continued crackdown. But he said he believes it is time for government agencies to treat marijuana independently of drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.

    "Let's face it, we don't seem to have too many problems with people swaggering down the street looking for trouble or breaking into houses after smoking pot," said Pinches.

    Pinches said most problems associated with marijuana are due to continuing demand and escalating prices.

    "You legalize it, you take away the value, and if you take away the money, you don't have the criminals," said Pinches.

    "I know it's not going to be politically popular in some quarters, but I honestly believe that if we take the money out of pot growing, our problems are going to lessen dramatically," said Pinches.

    [End of excerpts]


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