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April 11, 1996

Missouri Hemp Bill Heard Before Senate Agriculture Committee

April 3, 1996, Jefferson City, MO: A bill (SB 972) to allow for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp in Missouri was heard before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Introduced by Sen. Jerry Howard (D-Dexter), the legislation permits licensed growers to cultivate industrial hemp for a variety of commercial uses.

Although no vote was taken by the committee, those attending report that the hearing was positive and signified a step in the right direction. In all, four witnesses testified in favor of the bill and no witnesses opposed it.

Because the legislation was introduced late in this year's legislative session, there is little hope of it being approved in 1996. Nevertheless, hemp proponents are encouraged that this hearing will provide a "running start" for the introduction of a similar bill in 1997.

We are "laying the groundwork for next year," said Missouri NORML President Dan Viets, whose office provided Sen. Howard with background materials regarding the uses of industrial hemp. Viets added that Howard has been "encouraged" by the favorable response his bill has received.

According to the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP), one Missouri farmer has already applied for a DEA permit to grow hemp and is hopeful that the legislature will at least pass a resolution supporting industrial hemp research before the completion of this year's session.

For more information on the Industrial Hemp Production Act of 1996, please contact either Dan Viets at (573) 443-6866 or the Oxford Hemp Council at (573) 785-8711.

Vermont Hemp Bill Meets Unexpected Opposition In Senate

April 10, 1996, Montpelier, VT: Legislation that had been previously approved overwhelmingly by the House to permit development of a domestic hemp industry in Vermont has been temporarily derailed by the Senate.

Following hearings in the Senate Agriculture Committee, the bill (H.783) was passed by a 4-2 vote. However, the bill was passed with an "adverse report" and is now "ordered to lie" in Senate. According to a spokesman for the Vermont Legislative Council, bills "ordered to lie" are in limbo, but may be called back to the floor for further debate at any time if the bill receives a majority vote from the full Senate to do so.

Approving legislation with an adverse report is "hardly ever done," said Rep. Fred Maslack (R-Poultney), one of the initial proponents of the hemp cultivation bill. Maslack further added that law enforcement officials, the bill's chief opponents, recently testified at informal hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee against the legislation.

Law enforcement "has no business being there," he argued. "[They] have no objections [that are] germane to the issue. ... What bearing does [their] testimony have on licensed activity?"

Vermont's legislature is scheduled to recess later this month.

For the latest information on the status of H.783, please contact the Vermont Legislative Council at (802) 828-2231. For a first hand account of the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, please e-mail Joel Williams at or contact the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) at (303) 784-5632 or

Tax Stamp Legislation Under Fire In Arizona

April, 1996, Phoenix, AZ: A 1983 law allowing individuals to attain licenses from the state to deal in and pay taxes on cannabis is under fire from state officials who argue that the legislation is tantamount to legalizing marijuana. Recently, a bill introduced by Rep. Scott Bungaard (R-Glendale) calling for the repeal of Arizona's tax stamp legislation was approved in the Senate Government Reform Committee by a 6-1 vote. The bill (H2367) now moves to the full Senate.

According to Committee Chairman Stan Barnes, 55 people signed up to testify in opposition to Bungaard's amendment, including Arizona NORML President Peter Wilson. Wilson ignited the stamp tax controversy this past November when Northwest Phoenix Justice Court Judge John Barclay dismissed marijuana possession charges against him because of evidence that he is licensed by the state to sell cannabis. Basing his decision on constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy, Judge Barclay concluded that Wilson could not be prosecuted because of (punitive) taxes he had previously paid to the Arizona department of revenue to sell and possess cannabis.

"I think by possessing a license and paying the tax, you show an attitude that is different than a criminal attitude," said Wilson's attorney and NORML Legal Committee member, Michael Walz, speaking in favor of maintaining the current legislation. "What you have is a county attorney saying on the record he is 100 percent confident [Mr. Wilson's case] will be reversed on appeal. If that is really true, then there is no reason for this legislation. And in fact, what it does is deprive the state of Arizona of, potentially, millions of dollars in revenue." "The license and tax requirements were never intended to decriminalize the sale of marijuana," countered Rep. Bungaard. "I want to send a clear message that drug use of any kind in this state is illegal and unacceptable."

Despite the recent momentum to repeal the tax stamp legislation, AZ4NORML member Bill Green doubts Bungaard's measure will pass this year. "If by some chance it gets passed without us noticing, we plan to file a referendum with the Secretary of State. We will bill it as a protest vote for legal marijuana."

For more information, please contact AZ4NORML at (602) 395-0353. The organization can also be accessed on the World Wide Web at

Teacher To Sue After Losing His Job Over 20 Year Old Pot Charge

April 10, 1996, Chicago IL: A substitute teacher who was recently dismissed from work after a background check revealed a misdemeanor for marijuana possession in 1974 is suing school officials to get his job back, according to an Associated Press report.

High school substitute Michael Maynard, 42, argues that the school's policy of firing teachers guilty of crimes including drug misdemeanors - but not murder - is arbitrary and does not give teachers a chance to defend themselves. Maynard pleaded no contest in 1974 when a traffic stop revealed a small amount of marijuana.

"If they're not going to disqualify Bill Clinton from being president, it's hard to see how they can disqualify this man from being a teacher," said employment lawyer Lynne Bernabel to the AP.

Health Committee's Recommendations To Decriminalize Marijuana Scrapped After Political Backlash

April 10, 1996, Denver, CO: Controversial proposals made by a state health-planning group to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and create needle-exchange programs as ways to "reduce costs associated with criminality and transmittable diseases associated with illicit drug use" have been abandoned because of the threat of political fallout.

The two recommendations were included in a report released by the Denver Human Services Planning Committee, a 32-member organization formed by the 1994 legislature to help improve the delivery of health services in Colorado.

The proposals came under fire in recent weeks after a news feature in the Rocky Mountain Times outlining the proposals incited a wave of controversy.

Consequently, the committee voted to abrogate the recommendations late last month.

"We decided ... that this is not worth the controversy," said committee member Phil Hernandez.



Regional and other news

Body Count

The "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area, shows that seven of the 14 felons sentenced to jail or prison terms by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week had been convicted of controlled-substance violations. (April 11, 1996, p. 5, 3M-MP). That brings the total so far this year to 98 of 171, or 57.30 percent.

Marijuana Task Force IV

As mentioned last week, Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller's letter from Mayor Katz dated March 18 noted that "As Police Commissioner, it is my responsibility to see that all city ordinances and state statutes related to controlled substances are enforced effectively and equally throughout the City of Portland."

Last week's news release documented how Portland authorities already ignore laws concerning teens and controlled substances - alcohol in particular - as well as other laws more vital to public safety than the marijuana statutes. The Portland Hemp Festival in Waterfront Park last Aug. 19, 1995, provides a final example that even the statutes pertaining to marijuana are not equally enforced.

A few days before the festival, Portland police officials and organizers of the Hemp Fest met at a Northwest Portland pizza parlor to go over the ground rules for the festival. Although organizers had not requested any moratorium, the police volunteered at the meeting that they would not arrest people for smoking pot within the confines of the festival grounds, so long, basically, as such people were reasonably discreet and no problems arose.

A Portland Parks Bureau representative determined that, officially, attendance was at least 15,000. No violence or arrests or other harm occurred among the diverse multitude, and by midnight volunteers had made the spotless grounds pristine. Most people who attended probably never saw or smelled anyone smoking marijuana. None of the media expressed outrage about the no-arrest policy - or even mentioned it. All of this suggests that extending the Hemp Fest amnesty to the rest of the calendar year would not be unprecedented, would not create unmanageable problems and would not attract much more attention or criticism than a few "letters to the editor" that were published when such policies went into effect in Vancouver, B.C. and San Jose, Calif.

Wickersham Commission Revisited

In the March 28 Portland NORML news release, the following statement was made without attribution: "When the people are presented with an honest choice between seriously enforcing the pot laws, or funding public schools, or public safety, they will make the right decision. This is what happened with alcohol Prohibition. As the federal government's own 1931 Wickersham Commission reported, Prohibition by then had been 'nullified' in this manner by about one-quarter of the major cities around the country, a major factor leading to repeal of the 18th Amendment." ("Marijuana Task Force II")

The attribution has been located, and the quote actually reads:

" less than eight states, containing one-fourth of the entire population of the United States, either have no enforcement law or have repealed or voted to repeal such laws. The people of other states are obviously contemplating similar action. Many states are indifferent as to enforcement. Comparatively few are actively or effectively cooperating in the enforcement of the prohibition laws. In view of the statement of every Federal Director, or Commissioner of Prohibition, from the beginning, confirmed by the unanimous finding of this Commission, that the National Prohibition Act cannot be enforced without the cooperation of the states, this situation seems to require only a simple syllogism to demonstrate that the law cannot be enforced at all." - [Wickersham Commission report, 1931, Summary, Volume 1, personal statement of Commissioner Henry W. Anderson, p. 92.]
Commissioner Anderson also observed:
"It might be within the physical power of the federal government for a time to substantially enforce the Eighteenth Amendment and the National Prohibition Act. But under existing conditions this would require the creation of a field organization running high into the thousands, with courts, prosecuting agencies, prisons, and other institutions in proportion, and would demand expenditures and measures beyond the practical and political limitations of federal power. This would inevitably lead to social and political consequences more disastrous than the evils sought to be remedied. Even then the force of social and economic laws would ultimately prevail. These laws cannot be destroyed by governments, but often in the course of human history governments have been destroyed by them." [Ibid, pp. 97-98]
After a decade of alcohol Prohibition, which produced the exact same awful results as the war on some drugs, President Hoover, a conservative Republican, asked Congress for funds to appoint a commission to study how to make Prohibition more effective. Six of the 11 respected and diverse men who produced the Wickersham Commission report, in their personal statements, instead favored an immediate end to the noble experiment. Four of the other five favored continuing Prohibition only if a way could be found to get the public to support a credible enforcement effort, which all four considered unlikely. The report is available at the Multnomah County TransCentral Library, and should be posted before long in the Web pages of Clifford Schaffer and the Drug Reform Coordination Network at

How The District Attorney Sees It

Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk gave a speech discussing "efforts to reduce crime" during a noon Monday, April 8, meeting of the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce at the Persimmon Country Club. After one made the necessary reservations and forked over the requisite $10 at the door, it turned out Schrunk had some interesting figures to share, but not much in the way of new ideas or goals.

The D.A. focused mostly on the financial costs created by Oregon Ballot Measure 11 and other recent mandatory-minimum legislation passed by legislators as well as voters. Such changes will probably at least double the burden on taxpayers, public-school funding and other social spending. (Assuming the rate of such crimes remains the same or climbs. As recounted in past news releases, Portland media as well as law-enforcement officials have recently cited varying "evidence" purporting to show that crime is either rising or falling in Portland, depending on their agenda of the moment.)

According to Schrunk, there are about 30,000 "criminal incidents" in Multnomah County every year - less than the total number of illegal-drug users in the county in any given month. (See last week's "Let's do the numbers.") About one-third of those incidents are "dismissed" or do not result in indictments. Of the remaining 20,000 or so cases, Schrunk said, about 3,500 involve DUI - driving under the influence [of alcohol, almost invariably]. Another 6,000 cases involve child abuse and about 50 to 60 murder cases are filed in Multnomah County every year. About 4,000 cases involve illegal-drug offenses.

Of those facing criminal charges, the district attorney said that 88 percent plead guilty, half before a judge and half before a jury. Two percent of all cases get dismissed and 10 percent go to trial, where prosecutors usually prevail.

Schrunk said that, in addition to incarceration costs, about 80 percent of all defendants in the past year could not afford attorneys and were represented by public defenders at public expense.

Regarding the 4,000 drug offenders, the D.A. explained that a significant number are able to void their arrest records by undergoing drug "treatment" successfully for one year. About one-third of those who undergo such programs "graduate."

The district attorney also remarked something to the effect that illegal-drug use is increasing dramatically, but that he is not in favor of "legalizing" drugs. Schrunk offered two major reasons for staying the course. First, he said illegal drugs are a tremendous drain on economic productivity. Then he justified current policies with a poignant tale about former crack and crank moms celebrating their "graduation" from treatment, seeming to ignore his own statistic that only 30 percent of those forced to undergo "treatment" succeeded. [That is a lower success rate than for those who undergo treatment voluntarily, and much lower than for the percentage who stop using illegal drugs on their own, without arrest or treatment.] By talking only about those who abuse hard drugs, Schrunk also seemed to overlook the primary role of pot offenders in tying up the justice system.

Interestingly, if the government's conservative National Household Survey on Drug Abuse is correct, as detailed last week, the 4,000 arrests last year for illegal drugs would constitute 12.58 percent of the estimated 31,806 illegal-drug consumers in Multnomah County, or one-eighth of all past-month users. Schrunk's suggestion that illegal-drug use is increasing implies that arresting as many as one eighth of all drug users has had no effect on supply or demand except to increase both. He did not say what Multnomah County taxpayers might expect if, for example, one quarter of all such criminals were arrested, or what that would cost or what tangible benefits the taxpayers would receive from such a venture. In fact, like the report mentioned here last week from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, titled "Oregon Prison Population Forecast" (Volume II, No. 1, March 1996) showing that Oregon's inmate population "is expected to reach 19,592 by July 2005, ... a 158 percent increase over the July 1995 count" (p.2), Schrunk ignored altogether the cost of the steady 7.6 percent annual nationwide baseline increase in prisoner populations since 1980, reported by the U.S. Justice Department in a news release from Aug. 27, 1995, titled "The Nation's Correctional Population Tops 5 Million," on the World Wide Web at

On the one hand, the district attorney urged the public and lawmakers to be prudent about the huge costs of prisons and warned of large budget increases in store for taxpayers. Schrunk said quite frankly that putting people in jail costs as much as sending them to Harvard, with the average cost ranging from a minimum of $50 per day per prisoner to $74 for "medium cost" prisoners and $94 a day for the most costly prisoners. On the other hand, the D.A. made a case that arresting drug offenders improved productivity in society overall, particularly by obliging people to undergo treatment.

It is hard to understand such a theory. Up until now, throughout the history of civilization, all sorts of cultures have lavished the bulk of their resources on educating their best and brightest young people. After the same fashion, livestock breeders and farmers have always husbanded their resources toward improving the cream of their crop as it were. It would seem there is considerable consensus throughout history that that is the best way to increase productivity. However, public policy-makers such as the district attorney who popularize the myth that illegal drugs cause significant harm to productivity ignore the fact that spending huge amounts of money to imprison drug offenders, with or without "treatment," has resulted in drastic cuts to public education and other government functions that once enhanced the productivity of millions of people.

It should be obvious that education budgets locally and statewide have been constrained and cut for decades in order to pay for the war on some drug users. For example, Willamette Week reported on Jan. 31, 1996, that "According to the [Oregon] Legislative Fiscal Office, in the 1991 biennium, $733 million went to higher education and $593 million to public safety, which includes both the Corrections and Judicial Departments. In the current biennium, $627 million goes to higher education and $752 million to public safety." ("Megalo Mannix," p. 19)

The Oregonian reported April 11 that pay for faculty at Oregon public colleges has fallen $6,300 to $8,300 below the national average. ("Oregon's college pay falls far short," p. C1). State and local tax revenues have been rising for more than a decade, yet education budgets just get cut and cut again. One would think the rising tide of productivity supposedly created by such policies would have floated everyone's boats by now.

If one were to ask people which would prove more productive to society - giving a promising public high school student a scholarship to Harvard, or spending the same amount of money on imprisoning a drug offender - there seems little doubt how the vast majority would respond.

Public policy-makers who continue to endorse current drug policy are less like the tough-talking protectors of the weak and defenseless than they are like starry-eyed Bolsheviks or Saint Francises, elevating the relatively less important problems of relatively less important people to an imprudent level of fiscal and moral significance.

As it turns out, there is no credible evidence anyway that illegal-drug users on the whole cause any harm to businesses' bottom lines. The only drug that correlates with reduced productivity is alcohol, and the district attorney did not suggest he favored a return to alcohol Prohibition.

President Bush launched the campaign to impugn illegal-drug users' productivity in 1989, declaring that "drug abuse among American workers costs businesses anywhere from $60 billion to $100 billion a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, drug-related accidents, medical claims and theft."

Officials of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also testified before Congress and at national conferences on drug abuse that employees who use drugs are "3.6 times more likely to injure themselves or another person in a workplace accident ... [and] five times more likely to file a workers' compensation claim."

Yet when the March 1990 Scientific American looked at the studies cited by President Bush and the Chamber of Commerce, it found that the evidence showing "drugs" reduced productivity really pertained to heavy alcohol users, and that workers who tested positive for marijuana only: 1) cost less in health insurance benefits; 2) had a higher than average rate of promotion; 3) exhibited less absenteeism; and 4) were fired for cause less often than workers who did not test positive. Among all the people who used all sorts of illegal drugs, "there was no significant difference between the income of households with current users of any illegal drug - including marijuana, cocaine and heroin - and the income of otherwise similar households." (The full text of the Scientific American article can be found in the Portland NORML Web pages at

While District Attorney Schrunk probably has a better perspective and more credibility than the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, it's interesting to note that his assertion that illegal-drug use is increasing happens to contradict the latest, 1994 NHSDA (on the World Wide Web at, which says "The number of illicit drug users has not changed since 1992. This follows more than a decade of decline since the peak year for illicit drug use, which was 1979."

The Oregonian - Treatment Doesn't Work After All

As mentioned in the March 14 Portland NORML news release ("Report tallies state's drug, alcohol toll"), ignorance and bias pertaining to drugs and drugs policy is so thick at The Oregonian that a staff reporter for the Northwest's largest daily paper expressed surprise March 14 to learn that drug treatment programs "not only work but also save the taxpayers a bundle." ("Report tallies state's drug, alcohol toll," p. E5.) The Portland NORML item concluded, "But don't be surprised if The Oregonian reverses itself next week and decides treatment doesn't work after all."

It took almost a month, but indeed the arbiters of public opinion on Southwest Broadway have turned around and published a syndicated April 9 op-ed column by Georgie Anne Geyer in which she writes that drug-treatment programs are less productive than interdiction efforts because "experience shows [addicts] can rarely be saved" ("Drug war was working before truce," p. B7).

Prison Smoking Ban - A Lesson for Prohibitionists

The following excerpts appeared in the April 7 San Francisco Examiner on page 3. Note the quotes from Oregon prison officials:
Cigarette Bans Go up in Smoke
Ingenious cons find ways to keep puffing away, despite prison prohibition
by Joe Hallinan

ALDEN, N.Y. - Banning cigarettes in New York's Erie County jail seemed like a good idea - until the microwave ovens started exploding.

Ingenious inmates, desperate for a way to light their smuggled smokes, found microwaves make great makeshift lighters.

All it takes is a Styrofoam cup turned upside down. Top it with aluminum foil and a few strips of toilet paper. Put it on high, press POWER and poof. The foil arcs, the paper catches fire-and the oven goes up in smoke

Which is pretty much what has happened to the jail's no-smoking policy.

"Everybody and their brother is trying to pass cigarettes in here," complains the jail's superintendent, Fred Netzel. Demand has remained so fierce, he said, that he's ordered his guards, who are allowed to smoke, to scatter the tobacco from their cigarettes "because the inmates'll steal the butts."

Laments like Netzel's are increasingly common these days as prison administrators, eager to avoid lawsuits from those who don't smoke - and medical bills for those who do-go out of their way to get inmates to kick the habit. They've offered them candy, counseling, carrots - even nicotine patches.

But their good intentions often backfire. Wardens at smoke-free prisons report that inmate assaults have gone up, the black-market price of cigarettes has skyrocketed and prisons have lost cigarette sales income Netzel figures his prison alone has lost $50,000 a year - not courting the repair bills for the microwaves.

$100 a pack

"What we've done is turned tobacco into the drug of choice," said Jack Ford, a spokesman for the Utah prison system, which banned cigarettes two years ago.

Frank Thompson, superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, said a pack at his prison now goes for more than $100, making it "the premium item of negotiation."

Spurred by the profits to be made at such prices, inmates have become increasingly clever at smuggling cigarettes, hiding them in trash or in pieces of furniture brought into the prison. Equally clever smokers have learned to exhale their smoke by blowing it down a toilet and flushing.

Although smoke-free prisons are gaining popularity, they are still the exception in this country. Only four states ban smoking everywhere on prison grounds and two others ban smoking indoors.

In Texas, where many big-city jails already ban smoking, the smoke-free transition has gone relatively smoothly, primarily because so many inmates have kicked the habit by the time they get to prison.

But in other states, the move has prompted bomb threats, fires and fistfights.

"You can send a place up in flames if you implement something like this too quickly or too irresponsibly," Thompson said.

Means of exchange

The reason, in part, is economics. In prison, cigarettes aren't just something you smoke; they're something you spend.

One of the most lucrative businesses behind bars is operating a cigarette store - basically, a cell where cigarettes are kept and exchanged for various goods.

The problem comes when inmates don't pay back. Prison officials say the skyrocketing cost of tobacco-from roughly $2 a pack to $100 a pack-has left many inmates with cigarette debts they can't pay. And convicts, unlike bankers, don't send late notices - they send enforcers.

"They end up owing and not paying," said Joan Palmateer, the Oregon State Penitentiary security chief. "And inmates are going to collect one way or the other."

As a result, she said, assaults have increased since the ban began. Just how much they've increased is hard to tell, she said, because her prison is overcrowded and that, too, causes fights.

"Real Creative"

Palmateer and others say keeping tobacco out of the prisons has proven nearly impossible.

"There's all kinds of ways of bringing it in," Jack Ford, Utah's prison spokesman, said. "We have a correctional industries program that make a furniture for governmental agencies. And one of the things they're doing now is they will intentionally put a deep scratch into the leg of a desk," which means the desk must be returned to the prison for repairs.

Then the inmates will contact a friend at the agency, Ford said, "and they'll tell their (friend) they'll have to come pick this desk up and somebody sneaks in and hide two packs of cigarettes under the drawer. They're real creative."

In Georgia, policing the ban on cigarettes used so much manpower that last month the state's prison commissioner reversed course and allowed inmates to smoke.

"Correctional officers were ending up spending a great deal of their time-far more than we could really afford for them to spend-tracking down all these damn contraband cigarettes," said Laura I Marshall, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections. "And so we just decided: Let 'em smoke."

[End of excerpts]

Dateline Postpones DARE Show

An NBC Dateline producer reported at the last minute that the DARE piece scheduled for Tuesday night (mentioned in last week's Portland NORML news release) would not be aired after all. The producer explained that DARE Executive Director Glenn Levant, who had been avoiding them for months, had finally consented to an interview, after national DARE Day has passed. In the name of balance they wanted to include him in the piece. Besides, he added, Levant is known to be wildly irascible, hence the prospect of "fireworks." (This is, after all, television, not journalism.) Stay tuned for the new date. Meanwhile, take a look at DRCNet's World Wide Web page on DARE page (still under construction) at



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