Portland NORML News - Thursday, November 6, 1997

NORML Weekly News (Medical Marijuana Initiatives Filed For 1998 In Maine,
Colorado, Elsewhere; Washington State Voters Reject 'Drug Medicalization And
Prevention Act'; Detroit Judge Denies AIDS, Cancer Patient And Best-Selling
Author Peter McWilliams Opportunity To Use Defense Of 'Medical Necessity'
Against Pot Charge)

From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 19:24:06 -0500 (EST)
Subject: NORML WPR 11/6/97 (I)


The NORML Foundation
T 202-483-8751  o  F 202-483-0057  
Internet  http://www.norml.org

. . . a weekly service for the media on news items related to marijuana

November 6, 1997

Medical Marijuana Initiatives Filed For 1998 In Maine, Colorado, Elsewhere

November 6, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  Voters in Colorado and Maine may have
the opportunity to decide whether the use of medical marijuana under a
physician's supervision should be legal under state law.

Medical marijuana proponents in both states recently filed ballot
initiatives to put the issue to a public vote in 1998.  Americans for
Medical Rights (AMR), the California-based group that spearheaded the
successful passage of Proposition 215 in California, is coordinating the two
state campaigns.  

"Next year is going to be a defining moment in the battle for legal access
to medical marijuana," NORML Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.  predicted.
"Federal legislators are looking to the states to take the lead on this issue."

Colorado's reform effort seeks to amend the state's constitution to allow
anyone holding a state-issued identification card to legally possess up to
an ounce of marijuana.  Patients would also be able to cultivate marijuana
for medical use with a physician's recommendation.   Cultivation limits are
set at six plants, with no more than three plants producing usable marijuana
at any one time.

A state health agency would keep a confidential registry of patients who
possess valid doctor's recommendations. Those who obtain marijuana for
medical use would be prohibited from using it in public places, selling or
distributing the drug, or "endangering the health and well-being" of other
people by its use.

"The time [for medical marijuana] has come," said initiative co-filer Martin
Chilcutt of Coloradans for Medical Rights.  "We can't avoid it and put our
heads in the sand and pretend the need isn't there."  

A similar proposal filed in Maine would limit the use of marijuana to
patients suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, seizures, or
undergoing cancer chemotherapy.  As in Colorado, the proposal allows
patients to grow up to six marijuana plants.

"It's pretty clear that this was written to ensure that [opponents] could
not claim that this law would 'open the door' to other uses of marijuana,"
said Attorney Ron Kreisman, who drafted the initiative.

"It's been clear for years that there is broad deep support for permitting
medical use of marijuana among Maine [citizens]," explained Dave Fratello,
spokesman for AMR.  Stephanie Hart, a former Congressional aide who is now
coordinating the statewide effort, agrees.  

"We know from everything we've heard that Maine people will come forward" to
support the medical marijuana drive, she said.

Stroup sees parallels between Colorado and Maine, and anticipates both
initiatives efforts to be successful in 1998.  "In both instances, you have
states where voters have shown strong support for the issue, but the
Legislature has failed to convert the voters' sentiment into law," he said.
"Proponents  have no choice but to bypass the Legislature and go directly to
the voters."

Besides Colorado and Maine, grassroots petition drives are also taking place
in Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, and the District of Columbia.  Both Florida's
and Washington D.C.'s initiatives are modeled after California's Proposition
215, while Alaska and Arkansas' language propose broader drug-law reforms.  

Americans for Medical Rights said that they may back additional state
initiatives in 1998.

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202)
483-5500 or Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights @ (310) 394-2952.


Washington State Voters Reject "Drug Medicalization and Prevention Act"

November 6, 1997, Olympia, WA:  State voters rejected a drug-law reform
ballot initiative that contained provisions allowing physicians to recommend
the use of marijuana as a medicine to seriously ill patients.

Initiative 685, the "Drug Medicalization and Prevention Act of 1997"
received only 40 percent support from state voters Tuesday.  The defeat came
as a disappointment to reformers, but medical marijuana proponents said that
public support for medical marijuana remains strong.

"The defeat of I-685 was not a defeat for medical marijuana," NORML Director
R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said, citing exit poll results indicating 46 percent
of those opposed to the initiative would support a measure dealing only with
medical marijuana.  "It further supports our belief that a majority of
Americans favor focused legislation allowing a patient to use marijuana
medicinally under a physician's supervision."

Tacoma physician Rob Killian, who filed the initiative, told reporters that
he felt I-685's broad language regarding other drugs and prison reform may
have turned off some voters who would have otherwise supported the measure.
He said that he may file an initiative next year to deal strictly with
medical marijuana.  

In the meantime, state legislators  Alex Deccio (R-Yakima) and Jeanne Kohl
(D-Seattle) announced they will work to push the issue forward in the
Legislature.  Deccio, who chairs the Senate Health and Long Term Care
Committee, said he will likely hold hearings on the issue, and Kohl
announced that she hopes to co-sponsor legislation permitting the use of
marijuana as a medicine.  

"I'd like to focus only on marijuana and keep it [limited] to medical use,"
Kohl said.  "I think we're farther ahead than we were a year ago, especially
with public awareness of the issue."

Kohl previously sponsored a medical marijuana appropriation bill in 1996
that secured $130,000 to conduct a state study into the benefits of
marijuana as a medicine.  That proposal remains delayed indefinitely while
awaiting federal approval.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Keith Stroup
of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.


Judge Denies AIDS And Cancer Patient Opportunity To Use Defense Of "Medical
Necessity" Against Pot Charge

November 6, 1997, Detroit, MI:  A district court judge yesterday reversed
her week-old decision to allow an AIDS and cancer patient facing marijuana
charges to present evidence that he uses the drug as part of his medical

The case involves Peter McWilliams, a best-selling author and former Detroit
resident who is facing criminal charges for possession of seven marijuana
cigarettes.  McWilliams, who now lives in California, uses marijuana
medicinally to alleviate the side effects of the AIDS wasting syndrome and
cancer chemotherapy.  He was arrested December 17, 1996, at Detroit
Metropolitan Airport after telling officers that he was carrying marijuana
legally acquired in California.

William's attorney, NORML's Legal Committee member Richard Lustig, expressed
extreme surprise at the judge's reversal.  "Judge [Tina] Green's initial
decision was brave a correct," Lustig said.  "Thousands of patients rely on
medical marijuana to relieve their pain and to ease their nausea and other
side effects caused by medical treatment."

Judge Green said she reversed her position after concluding that McWilliams
would not suffer bodily harm if he stopped using marijuana as part of his
medical treatment.  McWilliams contests that assertion.

"Without medical marijuana, I can't keep down the drugs that are keeping me
alive," McWilliams said.  "Judge Green's original decision may not be
considered politically correct by some, but it was definitely the medically
correct decision to make."

Lustig said he will immediately file an appeal with the Wayne County Circuit

For more information, please contact either R. Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @
(202) 483-5500 or NORML Legal Committee member Richard Lustig @ (810) 258-1600.



The Geopolitics Of Hypocrisy ('Le Nouvel Observateur' In Paris Wonders Why
Americans Appeal To The French Not To Pressure Their Proteges In Afghanistan
And Pakistan Who Are Flooding Europe With Heroin, Concluding It's Obvious
The Fight Against Drugs Is Following An American Agenda)

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 22:10:54 -0500
Subject: MN: The Geopolitics Of Hypocrisy
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family  
Source: World Press Review
Article from "Le Nouvel Observateur", Paris, Nov. 6-12, 1997 
Author: Michel Koutouzis, research director, Geopolitical Drugwatch,
interviewed by Sara Daniel

Republished in World Press Review, February, 1998


We are living in a time similar to the Prohibition era. Consumption of
drugs, especially cannabis, has become commonplace. In the 1920s and early
1930s, the U.S. government completely banned consumption of heroin,
cocaine, and alcohol. The growth of organized crime and massive smuggling
forced it to back- track for alcohol, which had a mass market, but not for
heroin, which had a minor market. The question that was once asked about
alcohol arises today with regard to drugs. Yes, drugs are dangerous, but
outlawing them creates so many problems (crime, covert financing of
guerrilla movements, internationalization of organized crime) that
legalization is worth considering.  If we adopted the same reasoning as the
Americans did about alcohol in the 1930s, we would decriminalize drug use.

The harmfulness of a drug is no longer the decisive factor in deciding
whether or not to prohibit it. Extremely addictive drugs are freely
available. Methadone, a substitute for heroin, is highly habit-forming. In
France, 30 percent of overdose cases are the result of mixing legal and
illegal drugs -- Rohypnol and heroin, for example. Dealers go to parties
and hand out pills of strychnine mixed with caffeine, which are perfectly
legal but have a powerful effect on the heart and are much more harmful
than uncut Ecstasy [an illegal psychedelic amphetamine]. Amphetamines were
once a medicine; out of a prohibitionist impulse, they were made illegal.
The traffic in psychotropic substances is becoming harder and harder to
dismantle. A synthetic substance can be sent around the world stuck to the
back of a postage stamp on an envelope.

The problems of drugs go far beyond issues of public health. Drugs are also
a political and geopolitical tool, at the heart of rivalries between former
colonial empires. Why do the Americans put everything into fighting
cocaine? Because it lets them intervene openly in Latin America. Europe
allows Morocco to produce hashish because that country is a bulwark against
Islamic fundamentalism.

There is also a social inequality where drugs are concerned. The
decriminalization of cocaine has already happened, but only for the very
wealthy. We seize 40 tons of cocaine yearly in Europe, but the only people
ever arrested are users of crack, a cocaine derivative. The law is not
enforced with the same zeal in the slums and in rich neighborhoods. One can
also be a soft user of a hard drug or a hard user of a soft drug. But that
idea is not easily translated into political positions.

There are strong cultural and religious biases. It is very easy, in the
name of a religion, to prohibit someone else's drugs. Are the ayatollahs
wrong when they single out the evils of alcohol, the French national drug?

Drugs themselves are not the disease. The disease is unemployment,
alienation, moral loneliness. Drugs serve as a medicine against those
social ills. People in a desperate plight will consume drugs regardless,
even at the risk of ending up in jail. On the other hand, people who are
comfortably well off and in control of their recreational drug habit will
never be prosecuted. The real drug addicts are the bankers. Cocaine
trafficking injects $1 trillion into the world economy.  There is a lot of
hypocrisy in the global drug game. Why do the Americans appeal to us not to
pressure their proteges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are flooding
Europe with heroin? It's obvious that the fight against drugs is following
an American agenda. Drugs are part of the stakes in the geopolitical
game--and too bad for the users! 




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