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November 14, 1996

Drug Czar Holds Meeting With California Law Enforcement
To Discuss New State Medical Marijuana Law

November 14, 1996, Washington, D.C.: Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey is scheduled to meet today with California law enforcement officials from the "No on 215" campaign, including Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates, to discuss the federal response to the passage of Proposition 215.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had vigorously campaigned against the initiative and reaffirmed the Administration's opposition to the passage of the measure in a November 9 press release.

"The passage of [Proposition 215] creates a significant threat to the drug control system that protects our children," the release said. "...As the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice have stated, Federal law is unchanged by the passage of th[is] initiative. Doctors in ... California ... who prescribe a Schedule I drug as medicine, notwithstanding state law, will violate federal law. The provision in the California measure that allows patients and caregivers to grow and possess marijuana also violates federal law. The decision to bring appropriate criminal or administrative enforcement action will be, as always, decided on a case by case basis."

Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, who has long been involved with medical marijuana research, recently learned of the meeting, but was denied attendance by Assistant General Counsel Warren Hall. It was explained to Mikuriya that the list of participants was limited to those opposed to Proposition 215. A follow up letter requesting Mikuriya's attendance was faxed by Rep. Ronald Dellums (D-Calif.) who asked that the White House "do everything possible to gain admission to this meeting for Dr. Mikuriya."

Mikuriya has requested that the meeting be rescheduled to a later date in order to allow representatives from the California medical community to attend the meeting. "The limitation of the list of invitees to those in law enforcement to strategize on the response to the passage of Proposition 215 in California ... would appear to be possibly illegal if not grossly improper," he said. "[This] proposition involves health issues. To exclude input from physicians who are explicitly and specifically mentioned is unacceptable. This act of institutional denial demonstrates bad faith on the part of the participants from California who are sworn to uphold and enforce state law."

For more information, please contact Dr. Tod Mikuriya at (510) 843-0279 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Medical Marijuana Supporters Plan 'Effective, Responsible' Procedures, Legislation
To Implement Proposition 215

November 6, 1996, Santa Cruz, CA: A meeting has been scheduled in Santa Cruz on November 16 to discuss plans for implementing legislation to provide for the well regulated distribution of medical marijuana to patients and researchers. Although Proposition 215 makes concessions for patients who possess and use marijuana for a legitimate medical need, it does not address the question of distribution.

"We want Proposition 215 to work as effectively and responsibly as possible in meeting the needs of patients and researchers, with appropriate safeguards to prevent abuses," says Lynnette Shaw, co-chair of the California Medical Marijuana Council (CMMC), which is organizing the meeting. The CMMC includes representatives of the state's medical marijuana "Cannabis Buyers' Clubs," that are currently supplying patients through the underground market.

The conference will discuss ways in which CBCs can legitimize their operations under Proposition 215, with well defined procedures for identifying medical marijuana patients, validating physicians' recommendations, and preventing diversions to non-medical uses. Proposition 215 supporters are hoping to propose some form of legal licensing system for CBCs via implementory legislation in the state legislature next year. They also want to establish legal cultivation facilities to supply both patients and researchers with high-quality marijuana under legal, well controlled conditions.

Proposition 215 supporters contest claims by opponents, such as Attorney General Dan Lungren, that the initiative was written loosely so as to encourage abuses. "Proposition 215 was deliberately framed in general terms so that the state and federal governments could work out regulatory details of the distribution system," says Dale Gieringer of California NORML. "We want to work with local state and federal authorities in ironing out any ambiguities in the law so as to prevent abuses."

"Proposition 215 is not the last word on the subject, just the first," said Shaw.

For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML at (415) 563-5858 or Lynnette Shaw of the California Medical Marijuana Council at (415) 893-1811.

Arizona Governor May Veto Voter Approved Initiative

November 6, 1996: Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Gov. Fife Symington may attempt to veto a recently passed state initiative allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana as a medicine and mandating that non-violent drug offenders receive treatment rather than incarceration. The initiative passed on November 5 by a vote of 65 percent to 35 percent.

An aide to Symington said last week that the governor believes he has the authority to veto successful ballot initiatives which pass with a simple majority of voters, but without a majority of all registered voters. The governor has up to 30 days to decide a course of action. Symington campaigned against the measure prior to the election.

John MacDonald, Government Affairs Director of the Arizona Attorney General's Office, said a veto by the governor would violate the state's constitution, though he added that the subject of referendum vetoes hasn't been fully studied by the attorney general or members of his staff.

"Our opinion is that the governor has no constitutional authority to veto what the people have voted in favor of," he said. "We expect he will follow the law. If he does not, we expect that one way or the other he will wind up in court."

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

Buyers' Club Activists Plead 'Morally Not Guilty' At Arraignment

November 1996, Oakland, CA: Five defendants from the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club plead "morally not guilty" at their arraignment in Alameda County Superior Court. The five individuals have been charged with possession of marijuana for sale, the sale or transportation of marijuana, and conspiracy, stemming from an August 4 raid by state law enforcement on the nearly 12,000 member club.

"The fact is, we did sell marijuana in San Francisco to sick and dying people for three and a half years," CBC founder Dennis Peron told reporters outside the courtroom. "We were morally compelled to do this."

Judge Larry Goodman scheduled a December 17 hearing on a motion filed by the defendants to move the trial from Oakland to San Francisco. They argue that the trial should be conducted in San Francisco because that is where the club was located.

Judge Goodman has already denied a gag order sought by the attorney general's office, saying he was not persuaded by arguments that pretrial press coverage could prejudice potential jurors.

For more information, please contact Californians for Compassionate Use at (415) 621-3986.




Regional and other news

Body Count

Eight of the 12 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance offenses, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, distributed in the central metropolitan area (Nov. 14, 1996, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 327 out of 600, or 54.50 percent.

Possibly the count should be nine out of 12 - one woman was sentenced to two years' probation, $54 in fines and 10 days in jail for endangering the welfare of a minor. However, one charge of possession of a controlled substance and one charge of child neglect were dismissed. Unfortunately, one can't know without more information whether the endangering or neglect charges were predicated entirely on the possession charge, or whether the woman really was endangering her kids.

Simply having marijuana or another illegal drug in the same house as children leaves parents in violation of such laws, even if the substances are kept under lock and key. But there is no such legal risk for parents who stash bottles of beer or wine in the refrigerator, or scotch in an unlocked cupboard, or cigarettes or dangerous pharmaceutical drugs elsewhere out in the open. According to "Report says half Oregon '93 deaths premature" in the Oregonian of Dec. 11, 1995, tobacco is the leading killer in the state, linked to 6,000 deaths. Poor diet and sedentary lifestyle killed 4,000 Oregonians and alcohol killed 1,000 (full text at Yet according to "Oregon sets high in '95 for drug-related deaths," in the Jan. 26, 1996 Oregonian, all deaths from illegal drugs in Oregon in the same year totaled 138 (full text at Not mentioned - pot killed zero). So there seems to be a pharmacological double standard at work that has nothing to do with protecting kids.

According to the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, posted at, young adults use illegal drugs more than anyone else. Young adults also have kids at rather high rates. Perhaps if the state modified its policy calling for the arrest of all such parents and the placement of all their children in foster care, the parents with real problems - and their kids - could be helped a little more effectively. Maybe all the falsely criminalized parents out there would even vote once again to start giving more money to the government currently waging war on them.

In any case, the category of this woman's offense is just one of several noted here regularly, as they turn up, never included in the official tallies of drug prisoners. To obtain a realistic picture of what proportion of such cases should really be counted as controlled-substance offenses, policymakers should ask for a representative sample of case histories and find out how many were based on a simple double standard, and how many of such cases involved plea bargains and sentencing reductions that started out as controlled-substance charges.

Probably many of the children "saved" from such circumstances suffer more from their parents' poverty, ignorance and personal problems than they do from their drug use or abuse. The standard of harm reduction adhered to by the Netherlands suggests that actively seeking out and offering social services to such individuals costs less and leads to better results for such families, compared to tossing the parents in jail and the children in foster care.

'FDA Might Allow Some Uses Of Thalidomide'

The same government that will lock up pregnant women for using marijuana to quell their morning sickness once tried out thalidomide on American women for the same purpose. An Oregonian article Nov. 13 noted that "Thalidomide, once sold in 48 countries as a sleeping pill and cure for morning sickness, was banned worldwide in 1962 after about 12,000 babies were born with missing or malformed limbs, serious facial deformities and defective organs" (pp. A1 & A11).

The article then states, "It was never sold in the United States because FDA scientist Frances Kelsey uncovered signs of toxicity that its manufacturer had denied." Then the article contradicts itself, stating "Some Americans did get the drug overseas or in research trials." [Emphasis added.] In other words, thalidomide was approved for use on an experimental basis.

Not that this is a recommendation, but in contrast, there is no credible evidence that marijuana use harms the children of pregnant women. As noted parenthetically in the Sept. 5, 1996 Portland NORML News Release, a recent March of Dimes-sponsored study of ganja-smoking moms in Jamaica published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics (and posted at showed that the children of mothers who used marijuana moderately scored markedly higher on developmental tests. Babies born to those who smoked every day, at least 21 joints weekly, scored significantly higher in 10 of the 14 characteristics measured, including quality of alertness, robustness, regulatory capacity, and orientation. No ill effects from marijuana were found, and quite possibly there were dose-related positive effects. The researchers recognize the preliminary nature of the study, but go so far as to speculate that, "It is possible. . . that the outcomes at one month are related to neonatal exposure to marijuana constituents via breast milk...." Nineteen of the 24 Jamaican mothers reported that cannabis increased their appetites throughout the prenatal period and/or relieved the nausea of pregnancy. Fifteen reported using it to relieve fatigue and provide rest during pregnancy. (The phony studies suborned by the government purporting to show low birth weights, etc., generally fail to exclude mothers who use cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs, or use such bad methodology that they are dismissed out of hand by real scientists. Not a single study purporting to show significant harm from cannabis use has been both 1) published in a peer-reviewed journal and 2) replicated by other scientists using the same methodology. For more details see the research cited in the "Frequently Asked Question" or "FAQ" section of Portland NORML's page of links at "Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence," by Dr. John P. Morgan & Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., is one authoritative place to start.)

Ashland's H.E.A.L.E.R. Hemp Club Online

The Ashland, Oregon hemp club associated with Southern Oregon State College (H.E.A.L.E.R.) now has a Web page. There's not a lot of information there yet, but activists say "that will change shortly as we add information bit by bit (no pun intended, really). For those that are interested the address is"

New York County Lawyers' Association Releases Major Study On Drug Policy

[From a press release issued by the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet),]

New York, NY, November 12, 1996 - The New York County Lawyers' Association released a major study on an issue of national importance -- the Report and Recommendations of the Drug Policy Task Force -- and declared the nation's present drug policy a disaster.

The Drug Policy Task Force, a 42 member blue-ribbon panel of prominent federal and state judges, legislators, attorneys, medical practitioners, educators and policy analysts, was convened by NYCLA in the fall of 1993. Its 50-page report issued this month emphasizes that, despite the vast public resources expended on the enforcement of drug law statutes, contemporary drug policy "has failed, even on its own terms" to meet its objectives, and called for "a dramatic shift in thinking and approach in development and implementation of future drug control efforts."

"We strongly believe that only by treating drug abuse as a public health issue will the nation curb the escalation of drug abuse and drug-related violence," said John J. Kenney, NYCLA president.

The NYCLA Task Force found that the current "penal" model of drug policy with its emphasis on arrest, prosecution and incarceration of offenders has managed neither to curb substance abuse nor to reduce violence associated with the illicit drug trade.

In recommending replacement of the current penal model with its criminalization of substance abusers by a public health model emphasizing education, vocational assistance and access to medical treatment, the Task Force stopped short of recommending legalization of most controlled substances. However, the NYCLA Drug Policy Task Force recommended the decriminalization of marijuana. For future drug policy, it advised "further study and serious consideration of other alternative, non-criminal, regulatory drug control measures."

Included in its Recommendations, consisting of a 10-point plan for broad policy reforms, are the following:

  • Elimination of statutory mandatory minimum sentencing provisions and restoration of judicial discretion in the sentencing of drug offenders.
  • Development and monitoring of pilot programs designed as alternative approaches to dealing with problems of substance abuse.
  • Expansion of drug treatment, education and vocational support programs.
  • Increasing emphasis on "alternative-to-incarceration" programs.
  • Sentencing relief for non-violent drug offenders.
  • Development of alternative social and economic opportunities for inner city youth.
  • Creation of state and federal bipartisan interdisciplinary commissions to make proposals for drug law reform.

    Further advocating rejection of what it characterized as the government's "zero tolerance" approach to drug policy, the NYCLA Drug Policy Task Force has included many suggestions compatible with "harm reduction" theory, a significant drug strategy which seeks to identify and reduce harms associated with drug use, the illicit drug trade and drug control measures themselves. Such proposals include: expansion of needle exchange programs as well as methadone clinics; dissemination of accurate information about drug use; attempts to separate hard drug markets, i. e. cocaine and heroin, from markets for soft drugs like marijuana; improving access to medical care for substance abusers; and redirecting law enforcement, court and correctional resources to focus more efforts on perpetrators of violent crime.

    In arriving at such recommendations, the NYCLA Task Force specifically noted the enormous economic and social costs of present drug policies, widespread negative effects on public health occasioned by such policies, the widely disparate impact of current laws and enforcement policies on impoverished and minority communities and upon women, as well as the apparent role of three decades of contemporary drug policy in exacerbating rather than alleviating violence in communities across the country.

    Attached is a copy of the NYCLA Drug Policy Task Force Report and Recommendations. The list of participants of the NYCLA Drug Policy Task Force is contained in the report. The printing and distribution of this report is supported by a grant from the Washington, DC-based Drug Policy Foundation. The Report is also available on the World Wide Web at: and

    NYCLA is one of the largest local bar associations in the nation. Since its founding in 1908, NYCLA has dedicated itself to the New York community as well as the legal profession by offering a wide variety of public services and educational programs.

    Brook S. Mason
    New York County Lawyers' Association
    14 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10007
    Tel. (212) 267-6646, Ext. 225

    All the major studies of drug policy from the 20th century are linked to and/or summarized at Almost all the studies made policy recommendations - the LaGuardia Report on marijuana being one major exception. Those that made policy recommendations all endorsed a non-criminal approach to drug policy - though one could argue about the self-contradictory Wickersham Commission Report of 1931, which nevertheless helped lead to the repeal of alcohol Prohibition.]

    Automatic State FOI Letter Generator Now Available

    [From the Student Press Law Center at splc@SPLC.ORG:]

    The Student Press Law Center is pleased to announce the completion of its Web-based automatic, fill-in-the-blanks, STATE open records law request letter generator (what a mouthful). You provide the state to which your Freedom Of Information request is being sent, our generator will generate a request letter complete with the specific cite, time allowances and penalties of the that state's open records law. The Student Press Law Center Web site is at You'll find the generator in the Access to Information section of our On-line Legal Clinic.

    'Smoking And Alcoholism May Have Brain Link'

    NEW YORK (Reuters, circa Nov. 12, 1996) -- Researchers have discovered "striking" new biochemical evidence explaining why so many alcoholics are also heavy smokers.

    Their report in the journal Neuroscience Letters says both alcohol and nicotine target the same cell sites in the nervous system, which may explain an underlying mechanism involved in both addictions.

    According to Toshio Narahashi, professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, nicotine stimulates and then deadens or desensitizes the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor site on nerve cells in the brain.

    "The acetylcholine receptor of the nicotine addict may be slightly desensitized, meaning that higher doses of alcohol are required to stimulate it," Narahashi said.

    He and his colleagues point to research showing that about 10% of the U.S. population are heavy smokers, but among alcoholics, 70% to 90% are heavy smokers.

    The Chicago researchers say both nicotine and alcohol affect the same receptors at minute concentrations. Narahashi says the potent action of alcohol on acetylcholine receptors suggest that both substances interact at this site on nerve cells.

    "Our findings may also shed new light on the molecular mechanism of alcohol," he said.

    Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that affects a number of body systems, including the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, urinary, and respiratory systems. Receptors are usually protein molecules on or within a cell that bind with neurotransmitters or hormones to stimulate a particular process in the cell.

    Narahashi points out that one question still unanswered is how the effects on receptor sites in the early stages of alcohol intoxication differ from effects at later stages. He says alcohol at higher blood concentrations acts on several targets in the nervous system, but the new study suggests that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors may be its prime targets, especially in the early stages of intoxication.

    [Marijuana differs uniquely from alcohol, tobacco, and all addictive drugs, including caffeine, in that it does not affect dopamine-reinforcement biochemistry or structures in the brain. For more details about what the government's own scientists have learned based on the 1988 discovery of THC-receptor sites, see "Marijuana and the Human Brain," by former national NORML Director Jon Gettman, posted at - ed.]

    Lungren Lays Down The Law (We'll See)

    Here is the wording of the fax California Attorney General Dan Lungren sent to the state's law-enforcement officials on Nov. 6:

    Yesterday, November 5, 1996, the voters passed Proposition 215 which was represented to permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes by those who advocated its passage. This law became effective at 12:01 a.m. today, November 6, 1996. The proposition may create an affirmative factual defense in certain criminal cases. This office will be taking the following steps in response to the action of the voters:

    First, the Attorney general in the immediate future will call a statewide "All Zone Meeting" at which the sheriffs and district attorneys, joining with chiefs of police and other concerned agencies, will consider and discuss:

  • The meaning of the new law.
  • What constitutes medicinal use of marijuana.
  • Implications of this new law for the "cop on the beat" and the filing deputy in the prosecutors' offices.
  • Legislative steps that can and/or should be taken to insure that the law does not create unintended "loopholes" that increase non-medicinal abuse of marijuana.
  • Guidelines, if any, that should be promulgated for the use of prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
  • Emergency regulations, if any, that should be sought to avoid non-medicinal abuse of the new law.

    Second, the Attorney General will consult with the appropriate federal officials to determine how they will enforce federal law.

    Third, in an effort to provide guidance to those law enforcement officers who work in the Department of Justice, including the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, the Attorney General suggests that:

    In light of Proposition 215, the focus in cases involving potential marijuana violations should be on whether the medicinal use defense is factually applicable.

    The following matters should be considered in determining probably cause for arrests involving marijuana:

    A. An officer has the right to detain and question for that period of time reasonably necessary to determine whether the defense applies.

    B. The officer should ask early whether the person is taking medication, what medication, for what condition, at which doctor's direction, and the duration of treatment. The officer should attempt to verify the information when possible.

    C. An officer should ask whether the individual is a patient or caregiver. If he/she says patient, then ascertain name of doctor and caregiver. If caregiver, ascertain for whom, for how long, and on what basis (responsible for housing, health or safety of patient). The officer should attempt to verify the information when possible.

    D. The quantity and packaging of the marijuana.

    E. The presence of cash, pay/owe documents and the absence of any indicia of patient or caregiver status.

    F. Observed sales to persons.

    G. The presence of weapons, scanners or the use of evasive tactics or other conduct associated with unlawful drug activity.

    H. The criminal history of the individual.

    I. Activity evidencing consciousness of guilt.

    J. The experience and expertise of the law enforcement officer.

    K. The nature and consistency of the statements made by the persons detained and questioned.

    'The Forbidden Cure'

    The Depot at Fourth
    100 4th Street
    Des Moines, Iowa 50309
    (515) 288-3336
    FAX (515) 288-0309

    November 13, 1996, pages 10-11.

    For years marijuana has been taboo, denounced as a street evil. But chronically ill patients are rediscovering cannabis, and looking to the Legislature for help.

    By Jeff Inman

    Allen Helmers is fighting for his life. He's scheduled to go to court on Nov. 20 for violating his parole. Cops found nearly a half-pound of marijuana in his one-room apartment in Waterloo. He's been convicted of possession once before.

    "If I go to prison, I just hope to God I find the strength to survive," Helmers says.

    Helmers isn't out to get high. He needs it to live. The victim of a drunk driving accident, Helmers broke his back in six places. In order to make him mobile, his vertebrae were fused. The accident also acted as a catalyst. He has fiber malisia, a disease that slowly eats the soft tissue of the body. With his immune system lowered, the disease kicked into overdrive and hasn't quit since. He is in chronic pain.

    Doctors pumped him full of pills, hoping to find the right combination of chemicals to make it go away. It didn't work. Helmers jokes that he has "a five gallon bucket of empty prescriptions" that did more damage than good. Then someone suggested marijuana.

    "I've tried almost every kind of pill out there," the fortyish Helmers says. "I just left the hospital yesterday with a bleeding stomach because of the side effects. But the courts seem to think there's some sort of magic pill out there that will cure everything. The pills just make me sicker. Marijuana is the only thing that works."

    For years marijuana has been a taboo drug in the eyes of the law. Since it was outlawed by the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, cannabis has been denounced as everything from "wacky tabacky" to one of the most evil drugs on the street -- rarely as a remedy for what ails you.

    In recent years, however, the medical world has been rediscovering marijuana, studying the plant for medicinal applications. Once prescribed as a quick fix for a migraine or as a muscle relaxant, marijuana is now being used to ease the pain of AIDS and cancer patients. Lester Grinspoon, a professor at Harvard Medical School, has been studying the plant since 1967. He says marijuana helps with everything from rare diseases to PMS, and has the potential to aid thousands of people.

    "Marijuana is a remarkably safe, non-toxic medicine, that, if it becomes available, will be inexpensive and unbelievably versatile," Grinspoon says. There are over 45 symptoms it works for, everything from nausea to muscle spasms."

    Yet marijuana won't be sold over the counter any time soon. It's the forbidden cure. Few are allowed access. Listed as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act, it's considered highly dangerous, inviting abuse, with little or no medical value. Patients must prove they have a medical necessity to use the drug, which often translates into drawn out court battles.

    Only eight people in the United States receive marijuana legally. George McMahon is one of them. He has Nailpattla Syndrome, which causes everything from pain and spasms to nausea. Doctors said he'd be dead by now. Once they gave him six hours to live. He climbed into his car, lit up a joint and had his wife drive him home. Now holed up at his house in Bode, Iowa, McMahon gets a half pound of marijuana from the government every month, smoking up to 10 joints a day.

    "It doesn't work the same way when you have to use it," McMahon says. "When you smoke a joint in anticipation of getting high, you do. I don't get the euphoric part. I get to forget about my pain. All these generals and cops keep coming out and saying that there's no evidence that this works, but then why am I in this program. I'm evidence. There's people out there like me who need this."

    Patients may now have a chance to get marijuana legally. California and Arizona recently passed initiatives allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to those who need it. Rather than denying patients the drug and forcing them to buy it illegally off the street, both Arizona's Proposition 200 and California's Proposition 215 put control of the drug in the hands of the government, regulating potency and dosage.

    But that's only two states. McMahon wants to see cannabis legalized across the board, especially at home. Since Iowa doesn't have propositions on the ballot, he has to work for legislative reform. He, along with co-founder Carl Olsen, started Iowan's for Medical Marijuana. Their intent: push the legislature into action, with Helmers as the point man. It won't be easy. Legislators are weary of legalizing something that carries so much political baggage.

    "I'm not convinced this is something the medical community wants," says Rep. Jeff Lamberti (R-Ankeny). "I don't see them saying this is something they need, and some are saying it does more harm than good." Rep. Robert Brunkhorst (R-Waverly) agrees: "I don't favor it. I think there are alternative drugs out there that are better suited than marijuana."

    But some legislators are more sympathetic. Republican Sen. Gene Maddox of Clive, while by no means endorsing marijuana use, hasn't closed the door.

    "I'd be open to it on a restricted basis. But I have a lot of questions that need answered before I can make up my mind." For now Helmers is caught in the crossfire. Until the debate is over or he proves he has a medical necessity, he'll continue to smoke illegally. It's the only way the pain will go away.

    "Every day I decide whether I should kill myself or not, whether the pain is too much," Helmers says. "It's bad enough being ill without having to deal with an uncompassionate government trying to throw you in jail for relieving the pain. People shouldn't have to hide or feel they are a criminal in order to feel better."

    Carl Olsen

    It's a question of whether or not we want to throw people in jail for something they think relieves their pain. They've tried everything else. Marijuana is all that's left. - Carl Olsen, Iowans For Medical Marijuana

    Drug Czar Holds Meeting to Undermine California Medicinal Marijuana Victory

    [A Nov. 14, 1996 press release from the Marijuana Policy Project:]

    In an effort to thwart the will of California voters, "Drug Czar" Barry McCaffrey is holding a meeting at 2:30 p.m. today in his Washington, D.C., office to plot strategy with law-enforcement officials from California on how to undermine the implementation of the medicinal marijuana ballot initiative.

    By a 56-44 margin, California voters on November 5 passed Proposition 215, an initiative to allow patients with their physicians' recommendations to use marijuana for medicine. The California legislature passed similar legislation in 1995, but Governor Pete Wilson vetoed it. Fortunately, voter initiatives become law without the governor's signature.

    During the Proposition 215 campaign, California Attorney General Dan Lungren, Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates, and California Narcotic Officers' Association Spokesperson Tom Gorman actively campaigned against the initiative. The MPP has learned that the latter two individuals will be meeting with ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey today.

    After the passage of the initiative, McCaffrey stated that federal laws would still be enforced despite the will of California voters, patients would be arrested for using their medicine, and doctors would be prosecuted for "prescribing" marijuana.

    "McCaffrey doesn't know what he's talking about," said Robert Kampia, director of government relations of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Doctors in California will not be prescribing marijuana -- they will simply be making informed recommendations as to whether their patients could benefit from marijuana."

    "This is a decision that should be between doctors and seriously ill patients," said Kampia. "Culture clowns like Barry McCaffrey should cut their losses and stop persecuting sick people in California and Arizona." Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a similar but broader ballot measure, by a 65-35 margin on November 5.

    The MPP plans to continue lobbying for federal legislation to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and to coordinate activists in other states to pass laws similar to the California initiative. Marijuana is often beneficial as part of the treatment of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions.

    The Marijuana Policy Project lobbies the federal government for marijuana-law reform.


    How To Support The Marijuana Policy Project:

    To support the MPP's work and receive the bimonthly (hard-copy)
    newsletter, "Marijuana Policy Report," please send $25.00 annual
    membership dues to:

    Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
    P.O. Box 77492
    Capitol Hill
    Washington, D.C. 20013

    FAX 202-232-0442

    'Marijuana: Internet Delivers'

    The Oakland Tribune, Wed., Nov. 13, 1996, Front Page

    [a color photo, 4 inches by 5 inches, shows Ted Tuk, Director the Berkeley Cannabis Buyers Club]

    by Matt Richtel, Staff Writer

    Bedridden Berkeley residents who want medicinal marijuana now have a high-tech solution. They can order home delivery via the Internet.

    A week after California voters passed Proposition 215 legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, a cannabis buyers' club in Berkeley on Tuesday posted an order form on the World Wide Web that club members can fill out on their home computer and submit through e-mail.

    Members can choose among six grades of marijuana -- from Grade B Imported to Organic Green -- and from two amounts, one gram or an eight of a(n) ounce. Volunteers from the club said they will try to make a delivery within 24 hours.

    "We're providing a service for people who can't get to the street to buy (marijuana) or the club to buy it," said Ted Tuk, director of the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Growers and Buyers Club. "This is strictly a service for people who are in dire straits."

    Tuk said the service is meant to comply with Proposition 215, and that a person must obtain a written recommendation from a physician for marijuana use before placing an order over the Internet.

    However, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Andy Cuellar said Tuk could be prosecuted for advertising the sale of marijuana over the Internet or merely for possessing marijuana, still a federal offense.

    "This is incredible," Cuellar said of the Web site ( I think he runs the risk of being prosecuted both on a state and federal level."

    "He is pushing the envelope," siad Jeffrey Reed, outreach coordinator for Californians for Compassionate Use. "The idea of home delivery is nice, but it also involves sale, and we're under the impression that the way to do this (legally) is through a cooperative."

    Tuk countered that the club will distribute the marijuana for free whenever possible, and will charge only to cover expenses.

    He said he plans to work with the Berkeley police and they City Council to create a delivery system they find acceptable. At the same time, he said he is willing to be arrested to test the law and prove its necessity.

    "I'm on my way to jail. I'm telling you that right now," tuck said.

    Tuk said there is an "underground" network of disabled and severely ill residents of Berkeley who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Tuk, a 35-year-old Web page designer, said he has used it for more than a decade to cope with a severe stomach condition.

    For the time being, the Berkeley police department has said it will not intervene.

    "We don't legislate morality," said Berkeley Police Captain Bobby Miller. "The people have voted to allow these folks to use marijuana. so unless the district Attorneys' office objects, we're not going to pursue them."

    Drug War Strategy In San Francisco - Speed Up Treatment, City Health Chief Says

    San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 10, 1996

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco could dramatically reduce the estimated $1.7 billion it spends to combat drug and alcohol abuse if addicts could receive treatment in less than 48 hours, the city's health chief says.

    Right now, public treatment programs in the city are filled to capacity, and it takes an average of three months to get in, said Dr. Mary Hernandez. More than 1,400 people are in line for openings, and nearly 12,000 people are in treatment programs.

    Hernandez is recommending that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors spend an additional $20 million - half of what the health department now spends on substance abuse treatment - to reduce the wait. In the long run, she says, the effort will dramatically reduce the amount the city and private sector pays to deal with drug addicts.

    "What this requires is a fundamental shift in policy," Hernandez said.

    The additional money would be used for new programs, from residential treatment, methadone maintenance and day programs to detoxification programs and drop-in centers. The first targets would be jail inmates and mothers delivering drug-addicted babies, Hernandez said.

    City taxpayers spend nearly $47 million annually for substance-abuse-related services. Of that, $40 million is for direct treatment, $1.7 million if for prevention and outreach and $5 million is for housing and support services.

    In addition, city departments spend an estimated $20 million more on drug-related costs, said board of supervisors budget analyst Harvey Rose. For example, 80 percent of the Superior Court criminal cases are drug-related, costing $5.4 million. The police department spends $3.5 million enforcing and investigating narcotics laws, and the medical examiner spends $202,000 investigating drug-related deaths.

    But the costs soars past the billion-dollar mark when other costs are factored in, including foster care, lost wages, premature death and property losses, according to a city health department study.

    "When it comes down to it, $20 million is a very important investment," said Supervisor Susan Leal, chief sponsor of a resolution that would make funding for treatment on demand a top budgetary priority.



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