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May 2, 1996

White House Unveils New Drug Strategy

April 29, 1996, Cora Gables, FL: Amidst a wave of media fanfare, President Clinton and Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey unveiled a new 10-year anti-drug strategy this past Monday in Miami. The program asks for a record $15.1 billion budget to initiate a "decade-long commitment" to reduce drug use in America.

Although both the President and the Drug Czar emphasized that the new strategy is chiefly focused on "motivat[ing] America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse," a comprehensive breakdown of the 1997 budget request illustrates that the plan's largest component remains domestic law enforcement. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the President is requesting $8.3 billion in fiscal year 1997 for domestic enforcement.

In addition, McCaffrey admitted that the new 1996 Clinton anti-drug strategy is essentially the same as those of previous administrations. "Everything in this strategy is already being done," he told reporters in Miami. "I don't think the drug strategy has new tricks in it."

In a follow-up conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C., McCaffrey reiterated this point. This strategy contains "no sudden surprise attacks," he said. "[We] recognize that there is no silver bullet." McCaffrey added that he sees the new approach as a "permanent commitment to young people" and was optimistic that "there is no reason why we can't return America to a ... pre-Vietnam era level of drug use." When asked by the moderator what he felt about the idea of legalization, McCaffrey called the notion "nonsense."

"The federal government's war on drugs has risen from a $1.5 billion yearly battle in 1981 to $15.1 billion battle today. During that time, America has experienced millions of casualties and very few gains," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "The Clinton administration's latest proposals are simply an escalation of the same policies that resulted in the arrest of nearly one-half million marijuana smokers in 1994 alone."

For more information on the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy or the just-released Gallup Poll: A Look at How American's View the Country's Drug Problem, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. For additional information, please contact the Drug Policy Foundation at (202) 537-5005.

Update - Judge Suspends Sentence Against Quadriplegic Who Used Marijuana As Medicine

April 18, 1996, Toledo, OH: Daniel Asbury, a quadriplegic who grew marijuana to alleviate reoccurring pain and muscle spasms, has been given a two-year suspended sentence by Lucas County Court Judge Ruth Ann Franks. Asbury, who was found guilty of trafficking in marijuana despite expert testimony by NORML Board member Dr. John Morgan on the use of marijuana and pain management, must now refrain from using cannabis if he wants to stay out of jail.

"This court does not condone the use of marijuana," Franks said. "This court has sent people to the penitentiary for using marijuana. ... But I believe this is a unique case.

"The evidence is clear that you were using this drug for medicinal purposes."

However, any further use may land Asbury in jail. "Essentially, David Asbury's future - like the futures of the tens of thousands of patients who use marijuana as a medicine - is limited to two options: suffer in pain or risk arrest and jail," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.

Asbury suffered a broken neck 15 years ago and began to use marijuana as a therapeutic agent after prescription drugs proved ineffective at controlling his pain. "I need it," Asbury told the court. "It's the only thing that makes me feel better."

For more information on the case of Daniel Asbury, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML at (216) 521-9333.

NORML Chapter's Marijuana Measure To Be Placed On City Ballot

April 27, 1996, Traverse City, MI: An initiative put forth by the Traverse City NORML chapter to reduce marijuana penalties has the necessary number of signatures to be placed on the city ballot. The petition seeks to make possession, use, or sale of less than one ounce of marijuana in Traverse City punishable by a maximum penalty of $100 and up to ten hours of community service for a first-time offender.

The road to the ballot has been a rocky one for marijuana activists. Chapter organizers' 1994 initiative drive was rejected by the city commission despite having well over the required number of signatures, because it allegedly conflicted with state law. This year's petition was devoid of legal problems, but faced severe opposition from city commissioners who in December unanimously passed a resolution asking residents not to sign the petition.

Bill Bustance, president of the Traverse City NORML Chapter, told local media that he feels that there is a good chance that the measure will be approved by voters. "We're just asking a simple question," he said. "We're not asking: 'Are you for marijuana or are you against marijuana? or 'If you're for NORML or against NORML?' ... We're asking: 'Do you want to throw people in prison at a cost of $30,000 per year or do you want to enact fines and community service that will go directly to the community?"

For more information, please contact Bill Bustance of Traverse City NORML at (616) 264-9565.

Update - Cincinnati Buyers Club Founder Pleads Not Guilty To Felony Pot Charges

April 29, 1996, Covington, KY: Richard Evans, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Buyers Club - one of an estimated 30 underground clubs located across the country that supply marijuana as a therapeutic agent to seriously ill patients who possess a physician's recommendation - pled not guilty on Monday to three felony counts of trafficking marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school in connection with a February raid by law enforcement officers on the club's headquarters. Evans' home, which is located in close proximity of a school, served as the headquarters for the Cincinnati club. Evans informed NORML last February that he had two marijuana seedlings growing at the time of the bust.

"[This case] will have national implications," stated attorney and marijuana activist Gatewood Galbraith, one of three lawyers representing Evans in the case. "I think the mood of the nation is: Why not let these people have their medication." Galbraith maintains that he intends to launch a full-scale attack on Kentucky's anti-marijuana laws.

"The resolution of this case could set an example for all legal treatment of Buyer's Clubs in the future," he said.

For more information on this case, please contact Richard Evans of Americans for Compassionate Use at (606) 431-8719. In addition, Gatewood Galbraith is asking for contributions to help offset expenses associated with bringing in expert witnesses such as NORML Board members Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Dr. John Morgan to testify in this case. Mr. Galbraith may be contacted via e-mail at or



Regional and other news

Body Count

Ten of the 17 felons sentenced to jail or prison in the most recent week by Multnomah County courts were controlled-substance offenders according to the "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (May 2, 1996, p. 4, 3M-MP). That brings the total so far this year to 129 of 217, or 59.44 percent. (This week's count would have been 11 of 17 except one drug felon was sentenced to 18 months probation, 192 hours community service and $94 in fines - but no jail.) Do you feel any safer?

One Portland resident who doesn't is Tom O'Connor, a candidate for Portland city council who recently posted a message about this subject in the news group "or.politics" on Usenet. (Printed verbatim, below.) Although O'Connor is not a Portland NORML supporter and didn't mention that almost 60 percent of the felons sentenced to jail or prison by Multnomah County courts are victimless drug offenders, his experience demonstrates the sentencing consequences of policies that fail to distinguish between criminals who harm others and "offenders" who do not.

FROM: Talltom (
SUBJECT: Why we don't have justice
DATE: 12 Apr 1996 05:17:12 GMT

I have here a letter from Multnomah County D.A. Micheal Schrunk's office. It concerns a case in which I was the prime witness to an assault in which an 18 year old was waiting for a bus and a guy drives up, jumps out of his car, pops the kid in the face, the kid goes flying into the street, lands and the assailant starts to drag the kid out of the road, sees me coming, drops the kid and runs. The kid is out cold and a car runs into his head. The consensus at the time was that the kid would be lucky to live at all. Well, he did, rather remarkably. In the process of this case I was threatened by subpoena 4 times, each time would have cost me $125 to get the time off if I were in most people's position. Every time it was canceled at the last minute. This letter thanks me for my participation. Like I would ever do it again.

The outcome thru plea bargaining and total control by the D.A. is that this jerk got 36 days in jail, and 3 years probation, far from what a jury would have come up with.

Just one more reason to abolish plea bargaining and have juries do the sentencing.

[Reprinted without permission.]

Eric Schlosser, the author of two articles on this subject titled Reefer Madness and Marijuana and the Law, published in the August and September 1994 Atlantic Monthly, noted in a follow-up letter in December 1994 that "While the number of drug offenders being sent to state prisons rose by 1,100 percent from 1980 to 1992, the number of violent offenders who were being imprisoned increased by only 50 percent."

Urine Testing Gets More Expensive

KPTV Channel 12 News in Portland reported during its 10 pm news on Tuesday, April 30, that a serious shortage of long-haul truck-drivers has developed around the country because so many veteran drivers have been fired for "positive" urine tests in recent years. The price of shipping cargos by truck (one supposes that would include gasoline...) has increased as a consequence and lately some loads have reportedly been stacking up for lack of drivers with urine free of illegal-drug metabolites.

Although one person in the report referred to all the dismissed workers as "bad drivers," KPTV did not cite any evidence that such drivers were dismissed for performance, nor that any of these drivers consumed illegal drugs while on the job. They couldn't. As documented in the last few Portland NORML news releases, cannabis consumers make better workers and work harder even than non-users. And as documented here April 18 ("Illegal Drug Users - Helping Make America Strong"), after a decade-long nationwide campaign to deprive pot smokers and other illegal-drug users of gainful employment, 63 percent of the general population works, but 74 percent of illegal-drug users do.

The vast majority of the people who lost their truck-driving jobs did so because they smoked pot in their off-hours, and a urine test as long as three or four weeks later detected that usage. (It has also been documented that some companies have used false positives to get rid of "undesirables" and older workers as they near retirement.) The people interviewed for KPTV's story expressed amazement that these drivers continued smoking pot even after urine-testing became prevalent. (Maybe it was the subversive effect of looking at all those New Hampshire license plates that said "Live free or die.") How effective a deterrent can the government's anti-employment policies be when many illegal-drug users probably appreciate what the statistics show - that they have less trouble finding and keeping work than others?

The campaign to make illegal drug users homeless is causing more demonstrable harm to society than to illegal-drug users. Maybe the big difference between pot prohibition in the 1990s and alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s is that the consequences of alcohol Prohibition became very apparent very fast. Pot prohibition affects contemporary Americans like the proverbial frogs in a pot who refuse to jump if their water temperature is raised to the boiling point only gradually.

"Kitzhaber Blasts Mannix Initiative On Prison Terms"

As reported in The Oregonian on April 20 (p. D4), Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber told a gathering of police chiefs in Medford April 19 that "the state can't afford a proposed ballot measure to impose longer prison terms for burglars and car thieves" which Rep. Kevin Mannix, D-Salem, is trying to place on the November ballot.

This sounds like the kettle calling the pot black. Gov. Kitzhaber already supported a similar bill for car thieves and burglars, HB 3488, which the legislature overwhelmingly passed during its Feb. 1-2 session where public input was prohibited. A copy of the bill is at hand and there is no provision in it for funding. Why didn't Gov. Kitzhaber say something to the legislature about the missing revenue back in February?

The March 1996 "Oregon Prison Population Forecast" prepared by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services states on page 3 that HB 3488 will add about 503 inmates to the state's custody by July 1999 and 709 offenders by July 2005. Even without doing the numbers as in past news releases, it's clear HB 3488 will cost the state tens of millions of dollars it has not yet budgeted.

Why is this important to Portland NORML? Because HB 3488, SB 1145, Measure 11 and the other mandatory-minimum laws and ballot measures passed in recent years would never have been considered if not for drug prohibition. The police and courts keep enforcing the law by filling jails and prisons with harmless drug offenders. This causes police to waste their investigative resources and real criminals to serve reduced sentences or no time at all. The public naturally perceives that crime is getting worse, and that leads to stiffer penalties, including for drug offenders, since the government and media keep saying illegal drugs cause crime. In this context, the only difference between the two Democrats historically is that Mannix has exerted a lot more effort into putting real criminals behind bars, if not fewer drug offenders.

Both Gov. Kitzhaber and Rep. Mannix are on record as supporting the drug laws, that is, the apprehension of the 6.6 percent of Oregonians over age 12 who use illegal drugs. Both endorse locking up many if not most of them. The police have been doing their best to enforce that policy for many years, with steadily rising body counts and costs to the state, if not reduced usage.

If Gov. Kitzhaber and Rep. Mannix recall, the April 18 Portland NORML News Release detailed that there are at least 159,445 illegal-drug users in Oregon, including at least 129,150 marijuana consumers. Based on the state's most recent cost for new jail beds, taxpayers would have to come up with more than $10 billion, or $10,107,377,000 just to build jail or prison spaces for them all, not including interest. That is rather more than the state's annual budget. So Portland NORML invites both Gov. Kitzhaber and Rep. Mannix to go on record as to how many illegal-drug users they really want to arrest and how much the taxpayers should spend. The actual numbers, please.

Until Gov. Kitzhaber, Rep. Mannix and other drug-warrior policymakers begin to engage in a factual discussion about the relative costs and benefits of current drug policy, Oregonians would be well advised to recognize the duo's political posturings as the exercise in hypocrisy, denial and blame-shifting they are.

Gov. Kitzhaber, who brandished his physician's credentials frequently during his campaign, is particularly at fault here. The governor knows, or should know, as the Lancet put it, that "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health" ("Deglamorising Cannabis," Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11, As a physician, Gov. Kitzhaber once took a pledge to "do no harm." Every day he refuses to use his authority to pardon victimless marijuana offenders and to blow the whistle on pot prohibition, he violates that oath. But the governor is obviously better at practicing politics than at healing the body politic. That's why he's likely to do down in Oregon's history books as the dimly recalled John "Prisons" Kitzhaber, alongside the similarly brief chapters for Barbara "Prisons" Roberts and Neil "Prisons" Goldschmidt.

Philippine Death Penalty For Pot Gets Results

MANILA, April 7 (Reuter) - The Philippines has become the world's second biggest source of marijuana after Mexico, producing about $1.4 billion worth of the narcotic each year, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

Senator Ernesto Herrera said the Philippines' brisk production of marijuana, specially of high-grade varieties, had lured international drug syndicates into processing hashish in the country.

The processing is being done on central Mindoro island and in the mountainous northern Cordillera region while production of the narcotic is being carried out in 14 of the country's 75 provinces, he said in a statement.

Herrera, who is at the forefront of the country's anti-drug campaign, said about 30 million marijuana plants, seedlings and cigarette sticks were confiscated by law enforcement agencies around the country last year.

This was "a record haul" seven times the total seizure in 1994, he said.

The Philippines, alarmed by a growing traffic in illegal drugs and a resurgence of major crimes, can impose the death penalty on pushers caught carrying at least 750 grams (26 oz) of marijuana.

Seventy percent of the illicit drug dealers now on death row were convicted of trafficking in marijuana, Herrera said.

Cambodia Signals Determination

PHNOM PENH, April 30 (Reuter) - Cambodia's Interior Ministry destroyed 1.5 tonnes of marijuana on Tuesday, signalling its determination to stamp out production of a crop widely used by locals to spice up meals.

Po Lyda, a top anti-narcotics officer in the ministry, said the marijuana had been seized on March 27 just north of the capital in Kandal province.

The official, speaking at the ministry headquarters as the crop went up in smoke, said that one Cambodian man had been arrested and could face at least one year in jail if convicted.

Cambodia does not have a specific law covering marijuana but it uses the criminal code governing narcotic drugs introduced by the now-defunct UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia during its tenure ahead of UN-organised elections in May 1993.

A provision in the code bans the production, transport, possession and transfer of narcotic plants and drugs, a foreign human rights lawyer said. Violators are liable to jail terms of five to 15 years.

Marijuana has long been accepted and sold freely in markets in Cambodia for use as a spice in soups and other local dishes but the government has responded to overseas pressure to tackle the drugs problem by destroying plantations.

The Cambodian anti-narcotics official said more than 100 people, including foreigners, had been arrested for narcotics-related offences since the ruling coalition government began its crackdown.


"The Return Of Reefer Madness" (The Progressive)

Jerry Sutliff writes:
Recently any number of news pieces have remarked to the effect that drug use and abuse is up among our youth. The Clinton administration and WoD people, while making election year hay, state it as if it were confirmed fact. The May 1996 issue of The Progressive makes the point that not only is it not true, "they" know it. The evidence is readily available. The article is "The Return of Reefer Madness," by Mike Males and Faye Docuyanan. What follows is my effort to summarize. To do the magazine and the article justice I suggest you read it article in full. [Agreed. It's still at Portland newsstands or ask for a photocopy. Sutliff's summary has been edited here for brevity and content - Ed.]
"The Return of Reefer Madness" begins with a major undercover drug investigation in some high schools in Los Angeles. The operation was not news but the fact that it went bust appears to be an embarrassing secret. "Not only do the drugs fail to materialize in exhaustive undercover operations and searches, there is little evidence of any of well-known consequences of drug abuse."

Toxicology reports of the L.A. County coroner reveal that in a metropolis of nine million, not a single teen, (13-19 years of age) died from drug overdoes during 1994. Of the 1,100 county deaths considered drug related only six involved teens. "The drug discovered in the systems of most adolescents receiving emergency-room treatment was aspirin or an aspirin substitute, which accounted for four times more teen emergencies than all street drugs combined."

"Back in 1970, scores of L.A. teenagers died from drug overdoses. The city accounted one out of five teenage drug deaths in the U.S. By the 1970 the carnage was over. . .and has been low ever since."

"In fact, the 'teenage drug crisis' is a politically manufactured hoax. Take the Vernonia, Oregon, school district. It held itself up as a national symbol of teenage drug peril: 'Students in a state of rebellion' due to 'startling and progressive' drug abuse, its lawyer, Timothy Volpert, declared. But Volpert admitted that when the school tested 500 athletes during a four-year period at a cost of $15,000, it turned up just three "positives." Even so, Vernonia prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1995 upheld its effort to drug-test all student athletes."

"In June 1994 the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) released its annual survey of coroners in four dozen major cities. It found a record-high 8,500 deaths resulted from drug overdoes, drug suicides and drug related accidents in 1993. But teenagers made up just 2 percent of the deaths."

"...three decades of drug-fatality statistics show that youths have not played a serious part in the nation's drug-abuse problem for twenty years."

"Why the incessant hype?" ask the authors. It "turns out to be government hyperventilation over increases in occasional use of marijuana. It's the return of Reefer Madness." [According to the preliminary National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, "use among youths 12-17 years old has increased since 1992. Among youths, the rate was 4.0 percent in 1992, 4.9 percent in 1993, and 7.3 percent in 1994." Technically, that's about a 70 percent increase. Paradoxically, it is also barely significant statistically - Portland NORML]

Responding the charges of being "Weak on the Drug War front" the Clinton administration, initially promised to concentrate on treating hard-core addicts and targeting big-time drug sellers. . . the obsession now is to punish the occasional, single-time use by primarily nonwhite teenagers...In 1994, three-fourths of the nation's record 1.4 million drug arrests were for simple possession, four in ten drug busts involved marijuana, and a record of 312,000 were of teenagers - up 50 percent since 1990."

Correction - Bumper Crop Was In 1982

An item titled So How Much Marijuana is Growing in Oregon included in the April 18 Portland NORML news release stated that "in 1986 the DEA reported at the end of the year that it had confiscated more cultivated marijuana than it had estimated Americans consumed at the beginning of the year." The year this happened was actually 1982, as reported in an article titled "Bumper Pot Crop Embarrasses DEA: U.S. Output Vastly Exceeds Agency Estimates" (High Times, July 1983, p. 19, 25). The High Times report is based on the summary of the Final Report of the DEA's Cannabis Investigations Section, apparently released in 1983. The government authors state, "in 1982, 38 percent more domestic marijuana was eradicated than was previously believed to exist." According to the High Times report, the federal agency's most recent previous estimate of US pot production had been 1,200 metric tons (1,000 kilos), a figure rendered null by the eradication, claimed for 1982, of 1,653 metric tons. DEA has usually guessed that it manages to interdict about 10 percent of the marijuana headed for the marketplace. By that formula, the total U.S. crop in 1982 should come out to about 16,530 metric tons (18,183 tons), or almost 14 times what the DEA thought it was.

Excerpt From Woody Harrelson's Letter To The IRS

Last week's news release reported on Woody Harrelson of Hollywood fame holding back some of his taxes to protest U.S. hemp policies. A copy of Harrelson's letter circulating around the Internet makes the point that:
"Industrial hemp is grown legally in Canada, England, Australia, China, South Korea, the former Soviet Union, and at least thirty other countries worldwide, without any reported problems. Still, a government agency, namely the Drug Enforcement Administration, has used federal tax dollars to intimidate every state legislature that has tried to return this valuable crop to its farmers. Just last week, four senior agents from the Rocky Mountain Division of the DEA, spent the entire day on duty at the Colorado state capital, testifying and lobbying against passage of the Colorado Industrial Hemp Production Act. They misrepresented the federal law as it applies to industrial hemp and once again, "successfully" thwarted another state's attempt to develop an alternative fiber industry. [See, Thomas J. Ballanco, The Colorado Hemp Production Act of 1995: Farms and Forests Without Marijuana, 66 U.Colo.L.Rev. 1165 (1995).]

Sheriff Plugs Drug Legalization on KVIE-TV

Dale Gieringer of California NORML ( writes:
SACRAMENTO: KVIE-TV (Channel 6) will be broadcasting a debate on drug legalization at 6:30 PM this Tuesday, April 30, featuring Joe Doane, head of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and Dale Gieringer, appearing on behalf of the California Drug Policy Coalition.

In a prerecorded segment of the show, Yolo County sheriff Bob Martinez is taped saying: "We should look at legalization of drugs in the same way we repealed Prohibition. Currently there are 416 inmates in the Yolo Co. facility, and I would say 65% to 85% of them are in there on drug-related charges. They may not have been arrested on drug charges." Martinez is not running for re-election. (Yolo county includes Davis, near Sacramento).

Indicted On Three Counts Of Compassion

Everybody's News, April 26-May 2, 1996 [Boston?]

A Harvard Medical School professor and other prominent health care experts call Richard Evans "heroic" for his efforts to supply marijuana to HIV-positive individuals and others suffering from chronic illnesses. Kenton County officials call him a criminal.

by Billie Felix Jeyes

Richard Evans: Humanitarian "hero" or drug-dealing criminal?

....Richard Evans is the president of the Cannabis Buyers' Club (CBC), an organization which provides cannabis to the chronically and terminally ill on the basis of physician's statements (see EN's August, 1995, cover story "Smoke One and Call Me in the Morning"). Evans has never made any effort to cloak his operations.. In fact, considering his candor, he says he finds it surprising that it has taken authorities this long to act. On February 15, they did. That day, the Covington police raided Evans' home, which also serves as the CBC headquarters.

.... Evans was indicted on three counts of trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school and taken into custody. He is currently free on $5,000 bail.

The Cannabis Coalition

Richard Evans' club is one of 30 affiliated organizations in the United States. Evans was inspired to open his operation here in part by Dennis Peron, director of the largest buyers' club in the country the San Francisco-based Californians for Compassionate Use.

"There are 8,300 people in the club" says Peron speaking from his office in San Francisco. "Seventy percent of them are HIV-positive. Essentially, it's an HIV club. In April, 1995, the FBI/ DEA attempted to arrest us. They asked for 30 officers [from the police force]."

However the San Francisco police department didn't cooperate with federal authorities. "They couldn't give them one [police officer]," says Peron. ...

Just What the Doctor Would Order If Only He Could

Dr. George Lackaman is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Cincinnati, works full time at the Veteran's Administration and volunteers at the Holmes Hospital's Infectious Disease Center. Lackaman has signed several of the medical consent forms which Evans requires before selling cannabis to a client. Frustrated with the lack of research currently being done on marijuana, Lackaman argues that "at least adequate research should be done. The problem has been that there has been research showing some [medicinal] efficacy [of marijuana]. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence but the government says that none of it is proven."

There have been some studies, however, as summarized in a paper co-authored by John P. Morgan, a pharmacology professor at the City University of New York Medical School, and Lynn Zimmer, associate professor of sociology at CU's Queen's College. Their paper, published in October 1995 by the Lindesmith Center, states that cannabis "is effective in reducing nausea and vomiting, lowering intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma and decreasing muscle spasms and spasticity. People undergoing cancer chemotherapy have found smoked marijuana to be an effective anti-nauseant, often more effective than available pharmaceutical medications. Marijuana is smoked by thousands of AIDS patients to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with both the disease and AZT drug therapy. Because it stimulates appetite, marijuana also counters HIV related wasting allowing AIDS patients to gain weight and prolong their lives."

Morgan sits on the CBC's Board of Directors. "I've supported Richard Evans from the beginning," he says from his office in New York. "I am adamant of the people's right to use cannabis. Our government's decision to prevent access to cannabis is wrong, immoral, improper and un-American. I regard Rich [as being] in the long tradition of non-violent civil disobedience."

Government Hypocrisy

The federal government hasn't always been opposed to the medicinal use of marijuana. In 1978, the FDA began the Compassionate IND program under which patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and chronic pain could legally obtain supplies of medicinal marijuana. The program was temporarily suspended in 1991 because too many applications were being received, and permanently terminated in 1992, although eight people still receive marijuana from this program. The FDA also has approved a synthetic form of THC, the Marinol pill.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a professor at the Harvard School of Medicine and author of several books; including the groundbreaking Marihuana Reconsidered (1971) spoke to EN from his home in Boston: "Both [Compassionate IND and Marinol] bear on government hypocrisy. The government says there is no medical utility and [still] gives it to eight patients."

Grinspoon is also unequivocal in his support of Richard Evans: "He's heroic, like other people who have started these clubs - because they want to share what they've learned. As a consequence, he risks everything."

Some Frank Legislation

Grinspoon has used his influence and prestige to help initiate legislation aimed at decriminalizing the actions of people like Richard Evans.

Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, at Grinspoon's urging, has introduced a bill, H.R. 2618, "to provide for the therapeutic use of [marijuana] in situations involving life threatening or sense threatening illnesses and to provide adequate supplies of [marijuana] for such use." Frank's proposed bill stipulates that "the secretary shall take all necessary actions to secure and maintain . supply of [marijuana] adequate for the legitimate medical, research, scientific, and export needs of the United States," and that "the physician must file a written application" and "will use the requested [marijuana] solely for the treatment of glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, muscle spasms from certain spastic disorders, including multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and quadriplegia, or the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy or radiology." Among the dozen supporters so far are representatives Joseph Kennedy, Harvey Johnston and Lynn Woolsey.

This is not the first time such a bill has been introduced. And, believe it or not, previous supporters of legalizing medicinal marijuana include the current Speaker of the House.

The late William M. Kunstler wrote in the January 23, 1995, issue of The Nation: "On September 16, 1981 along with three co-sponsors, [Newton Leroy Gingrich] introduced H.R.4498, a bill "to provide for the therapeutic use of [marijuana] in situations involving life threatening or sense threatening illnesses and to provide adequate supplies of [marijuana] for such use.'"

Staying Alive

Kevin (last name withheld) has been HIV positive for ten years. "You guys were the ones who made me aware of the CBC's existence [through EN's, story, "Smoke One and Call Me in the Morning," I got in touch with Rich [Evans]. It took me quite a while to get a doctor to write a recommendation. Dr. George Lackaman filled my form out. In the meantime, Rich's house got broken into by the police and they stole his medicine I have not been able to purchase marijuana from him. I have to go by other routes."

Like many AIDS patients, Kevin uses marijuana to relieve his nausea and to stimulate his appetite. "It allows me to take my medication which keeps me alive until they find the cure."

"For the first five years, I resigned myself to death," he says,. 'Now, I have a very different attitude. I do not use pot to get high. I get up in the morning, sick to my stomach, smoke a couple of hits. [I do the same thing] at lunch. It is no longer a recreational drug for me. I, quite frankly, can't get high. I don't believe pot should be legalized but I find it criminally irresponsible and inhumane to not allow a sick person to feel better, a dying person to eat. ...

Going Dutch?

Evans now uses cannabis instead of the drugs initially prescribed for his condition. He obtained his cannabis prescription in Rotterdam. "I had various different modern day pharmaceutical drugs-Lithium, Prolixin, Elavil," he explains. "The side effects were so extreme. They disabled you completely made you feel as though there was a haze around you. You felt slightly more depressed, but lacked the ability to do anything about it. They produced a lethargy where you just sat in the chair and stank. They rendered you [incapable of] committing suicide."

But Evans isn't calling it quits. "Right now we're shut down as far as supplying patients," he says, "so we're temporarily shut down but we don't intend on remaining shut down."


Find The Drug Pusher In This Picture

Tue, 30 Apr 1996: HOUSTON (Reuter) - Attorneys for alleged drug kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego Tuesday asked a U.S. federal court to dismiss drug charges against him, claiming he was illegally abducted and extradited from Mexico.

Garcia Abrego, 51, was on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list before he was captured in Mexico January 14. He was extradited a day later to Houston to face a 26-count indictment on drug trafficking, conspiracy and bribery charges.

"His abduction is prohibited by international law and as a citizen of Mexico he must be returned home," Garcia Abrego's attorneys said in court filings.

In the first motions filed in the drug case, attorneys said that following his capture Garcia Abrego was drugged with a tranquilizer and had to be treated by a U.S. doctor after suffering a reaction to the drug.

Roberto Yzaguirre, a McAllen, Texas, attorney heading up Garcia Abrego's defense team, asked a federal judge to throw out statements his client made while still under the influence of the tranquilizers.

[Rest of article omitted]


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