Portland NORML News - Thursday, November 20, 1997

NORML Weekly News (Key West Cannabis Buyers' Club Founder To Appear In Court
Will Present First Ever 'Medical Necessity Distribution Defense'; California
County Okays Going Ahead With Plan To Distribute Medical Marijuana In
Government-Run Facilities; Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Auto Search
Despite Driver's Consent)

Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 08:23:54 EST
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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 20, 1997

Key West Cannabis Buyers' Club Founder To Appear In Court Will Present First
Ever "Medical Necessity Distribution Defense"

November 20, 1997, Key West, FL: The founder of a Key West club that
distributed medical marijuana to seriously ill patients who possessed a
physician's recommendation will appear in court on December 8 to face felony
marijuana charges.

Zvi Baranoff, who ran the approximately 60 member club until August 1996,
remains hopeful that a jury will acquit the charges against him. Legal
analysts speculate that the verdict may have national significance.

Baranoff says he will raise a "defense of medical necessity" against the
marijuana distribution charges. Last September, Judge Richard Payne ruled
that Baranoff could legally raise the unique defense.

"The rational for the marijuana medical necessity distribution defense is
this: If a person has a medical necessity for marijuana, then he has a right
to use it and a right to buy it -- and therefore, there should be a right
for someone to coordinate access," Baranoff explained. He noted that his
attorney, NORML Legal Committee Member Norm Kent, won a 1988 legal victory
which affirmed a glaucoma's patient right to use marijuana as a medicine.

The Key West club, known locally as the Medical Cannabis Advocates of Key
West (MCA), operated publicly for 14 months before being raided by law
enforcement on August 14, 1996. Both Baranoff and club member Jamie Levario
were charged with second-degree felony possession and distribution of
marijuana. In a February 19 court ruling, Judge Payne dismissed charges
against both men contingent upon Baranoff's participation in a Pre-Trial
Intervention Program. When Department of Corrections officials refused to
allow Baranoff to complete the program, prosecutors revived the charges
against him. No charges were reinstituted against Levario.

"If I'm guilty, let them put me in jail," Baranoff told reporters in March.
"If I'm not, and I believe that I'm not, let's get this thing over with."

For more information, please contact either the Medical Cannabis Advocates @
(305) 293-0190 or Attorney Norm Kent @ (954) 763-1900.

California County Okays Going Ahead With Plan To Distribute Medical
Marijuana In Government-Run Facilities

November 20, 1997, San Mateo, CA: San Mateo County supervisors unanimously
agreed Tuesday to propose regulations to distribute medical marijuana
through government-run facilities.

The proposal, first raised by Supervisor Mike Nevin, enjoys the apparent
backing of Attorney General Dan Lungren who called the approach
"enlightened" and assigned a staff attorney to work on the proposal.
Nevin said that the establishment of a public medical marijuana dispensary
would most likely require special state legislation, and approached Sen.
John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) about introducing such language in the
1998 Legislature. Nevin stated that he expects the proposal to be ready by
early next year.

"I'm trying to find a compassionate way of getting this drug, that is now
legal [in California], to the sick and dying people who need it," Nevin

Local sheriff Don Horsely said he wholeheartedly supported the idea of
county-run dispensaries. "I believe that [this] is the most humane approach
that I can think of to help the terminally ill, and people with AIDS and
glaucoma," he said.

Supervisors also agreed to develop guidelines for issuing identity cards to
qualified patients, and extended a county-wide ban on cannabis buyers'
clubs. Dr. Dennis Augustine, who heads the a buyers' club in nearby Santa
Clara, criticized the embargo on private clubs and called efforts to
establish county-run dispensaries unnecessary.

"Why not provide our center as a pilot project?" he suggested to county
officials. "We're doing an excellent job [distributing medical marijuana to
those who need it] already."

The notion of distributing medical marijuana through government-run
facilities is not entirely new nor unique to California. During the late
1970s and early 1980s, many states -- including California -- established
pilot programs where federally grown marijuana was distributed to
state-approved patients. Recent attempts in Massachusetts and Washington
state to revive these programs have been delayed indefinitely while awaiting
federal cooperation.

San Mateo supervisors suggested distributing marijuana that had been
previously confiscated by law enforcement rather than relying on government
grown strains.

For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California
NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202)
483-8751. A report outlining the history of state-run medical marijuana
research programs is available from The NORML Foundation upon request.

Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Auto Search Despite Driver's Consent

November 20, 1997, Columbus, OH: The Ohio Supreme Court recently reaffirmed
limits on the admissibility of evidence seized during common vehicular
searches. In a November 12 ruling, the Court found that consent cannot be
presumed voluntary merely because it is given without overt coercion.

Writing for the Court, Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton stated that
voluntariness must be determined under the totality of circumstances
surrounding the incident and must be decided on a case by case basis.
Stratton cited the U. S. Supreme Court decision in Florida v. Royer which
determined that "[T]he State has the burden of proving that the necessary
consent was obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given, a burden
that is not satisfied by showing a mere submission to a claim of lawful

Defendant Robert D. Robinette was cited for speeding in 1995 and given a
verbal warning. Officer Roger Newsome then asked Robinette if he had
contraband. When Robinette replied, "No," the officer requested permission
to search Robinette's car. Robinette testified that he did not feel he
could refuse the officer's request, so he agreed to the search. The officer
found a small amount of marijuana and one methamphetamine pill and Robinette
was subsequently charged with a drug offense.

The Ohio high court declared that any reasonable person in Robinette's
position would have felt compelled to submit to the police officer's
request. Hence, Robinette's consent grew out of implied coercion and was
not truly voluntary. The court held that pursuant to the totality of
circumstances, Robinette did not voluntarily consent to the search and
evidence collected in that search cannot be used against him.

The court noted that the government can bolster its proof of consent by
demonstrating that police officers clearly and unambiguously tell drivers
when they are free to go and that they do not have to consent to a search.
However, the Court stopped short of requiring police to make such
statements. Even if an officer makes such a statement, the totality of
circumstances must still be evaluated to determine that consent is voluntary.

Justice Lundberg Stratton concluded her opinion by acknowledging that the
Ohio Supreme Court is "very mindful that police officers face the enormous
and difficult task of fighting crime.... But allowing police officers to do
their jobs must be balanced against an individual's right to be free from
unreasonable searches. At some point, individual rights must prevail. This
is just such a case."

The case is cited as Ohio v. Robinette.

For more information, please contact Attorney Tanya Kangas of The NORML
Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.


Medical Marijuana - Doing The Science (An Account Of Research
Into Cannabinoids' Pain-Relieving Efficacy And Interviews With Ian Meng
And Howard Fields By 'Synapse,' A Publication Of The Medical School
At University Of California At San Francisco)

Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 23:07:05 EST
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From: "Carl E. Olsen" (carl@commonlink.net)
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Subject: Medical Marijuana: Doing the Science - November 20, 1997
UCSF synapse November 20, 1997
Volume 42, Number 12

Medical Marijuana: Doing the Science

In late October, postdoc Ian Meng presented a paper at the Society for
Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, summarized thus in a UCSF press release
and newspapers across the world: "a synthetic marijuana-like drug called WIN
55212 enhances the brain's ability to suppress pain in rats, and probably in
humans as well."

This debriefing was conducted in early November, back in the crowded lab
on the 7th floor of Medical Sciences that Meng shares with co-investigators
Barton Manning, PhD, and Howard Fields, MD, professor of neurology, and nine
others. Meng is 28; he did his undergraduate work at Brown, and got his PhD

Ian Meng in his lab
Ian Meng in his lab

Synapse: Who decided to name a cannabinoid WIN 55212-2?

IM: The company that distributes it is called RBI. [Research Biology
International. The compound was synthesized by Sterling Winthrop in 1990.]
Right now there are three good synthetic cannabinoid agonists [*] that act
specifically on the CB-1 receptor. There's been a big breakthrough in the
last year, because they now have a specific antagonist [*], which lets you be
sure that the compound is having its effect on the specific receptor.

Synapse: In your study, who took the initiative: you or RBI?

IM: I did. Actually, the antagonist is now free from National
Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). I just gave them a call and did the

Synapse: Why is NIDA making the antagonist available? In case somebody
accidentally ingests some marijuana?

IM: Well, marijuana is not lethal, so that's not a big concern.
Recently it's been made available because they want more studies done on
cannabinoids. They're actually getting on the bandwagon and starting to
support this kind of research. It's been a big switch.

Until recently the government was only willing to fund research that
asked questions about the possible negative side effects of marijuana. But
there have been so many anecdotal reports of marijuana helping people with a
variety of diseases that people in California and Arizona voted to legalize
marijuana for medical purposes. The voters said, "We're going to use it
anyway," so all of a sudden the government is saying, "We'd better start
funding research to really see what's happening."

Synapse: That is news... Could you define a cannabinoid?

IM: The most active ingredient in cannabis is the delta-9 THC molecule,
which binds with a certain affinity to a specific receptor in the brain
known as the CB-1 receptor. There have now been two proposed endogenous
ligands [*] for this receptor. So cannabinoids are drugs that bind to the CB-1
receptor. There are less active ingredients in marijuana which may have
some role in its effects. That's why we need to do studies where we compare
the effects of smoking marijuana to the effects of specific agonists. You
do want to know whether there are other components in the actual marijuana
influencing the effect.

Synapse: Have all the different cannabinoids been isolated? Wouldn't
you want to know what's in the plant first before you start working with

IM: I think most of that work was done in the 1970s. For the kinds of
studies I do I want to know that a particular drug is acting at a specific
receptor. That's why I use synthetic compounds... (Takes a 20 ml vial of
clear fluid from a desk drawer). It comes in a powdered form, I mix it in
an oil-based solution and give it intravenously, and I look at the activity
of single cells in this particular brain region which can modulate pain.
That's the basic paper I presented at the neuroscience meeting. I found
that when I give the cannabinoids intravenously, it will affect a group of
cells in one of the brain's pain areas. It's thought that these cells, when
activated, reduce the amount of pain allowed to be transmitted up through
the spinal cord to the brain, where sensation occurs. So when the cells in
this area are activated, they inhibit pain. Morphine activates these cells
to inhibit pain; and so -- we found looking at single cells -- do

I wanted to show that the activity of these cells was related to the
analgesia being produced. So the second step was to give the drug to awake
rats systemically and then do a microinjection into this brain region to
inhibit all cell activity. Under those circumstances, the animals do not
show an analgesic effect after the systemic cannabinoid. The activity of
cells in this brain region is necessary for the cannabinoid to have its
analgesic effect.

Synapse: So you're trying to figure out how cannabinoids work -- you're
not trying to prove that they do work. You recognize the existing evidence.

IM: Yes. People know that they're analgesic. But until fairly
recently it hadn't been proven in animal studies that cannabinoids affect
sensation. When you do pain research it's important to differentiate
between the motor effects a drug might have versus the sensory effects. If
you give a drug that has a motor effect -- that decreases the rat's
activity, for example -- then some observers might say, "That explains the
apparent decrease in pain..." You can't ask an animal , "Do you feel less
pain?" You have to look at certain behaviors. What I do is called the tail
flick. [Meng has a testing device in which the heat source is a light bulb
inside a gray metal box. The anesthetized rat is placed on the box with
its tail in a groove above a hole, so that the radiant heat from the bulb
will reach the tail, which the animal then flicks out of the groove. More
time before flick = feeling less pain.] If you give an analgesic drug, a
cannabinoid, or morphine, then the animal will leave its tail on the heat
source much longer. You can also do this tail-flick in another set-up
through a glass bottom with freely moving, unanesthetized rats.

I also look at the actual transmission of pain signals through the
central nervous system. I do single cell recording -- looking at the
activity of single neurons that are related to pain. I can actually look at
the electrical impulses that travel down neurons to tell me how active a
cell is. By doing that, we've been able to show, it's not just motor
effects; this cannabinoid has very specific sensory effects. It affects the
neurons in the pain pathway.

Synapse: So where is this research heading? What happens next?

IM: One thing I'm very interested in is, why is there this endogenous
cannabinoid system in the body? It's got to be there for some reason. And
it has to be activated under certain types of conditions. It's been known
for a long time that certain types of stress will activate the endogenous
opioid system so the endorphins and those kinds of things can kick in. Say
if somebody gets their arm blown off in a war, they won't feel any pain
because this pain-modulating brain center that I record in is activated, and
it shuts off pain before it can reach the part of the brain that coordinates
sensation. And that's important for survival because you don't want to be
distracted by your pain, you want to get out of there.

So certain kinds of stress involve opioids. The cannabinoid system is a
very separate system but it activates the same kind of neurons. One
hypothesis is that there are different kinds of stress that activate the
cannabinoid system.

Synapse: Why do plants contain cannabinoids? And why do poppies
contain opium? Do you find yourself pondering the big evolutionary

IM: And the bark of the willow tree for aspirin... Yeah, there are a
lot of natural substances which have specific actions that reduce pain. I'm
not sure why plants have evolved to make these compounds, but it has really
helped scientists gain insight into the way the brain works. It also makes
me believe that the Western scientific and medical community could learn
something from people in other parts of the world who use all kinds of
herbal and other natural remedies.

Synapse: Why did the company want to develop a synthetic cannabinoid in
the first place? Why not study the naturally occurring ones first? Were
they trying to create a patentable molecule? Or a legal molecule?

IM: The real reason is, when you make a synthetic compound it can
actually be more potent and more effective.

Synapse: Why is that?

IM: It can bind to the receptor molecule better. You can target that
receptor. It can also have a longer duration of action.

Synapse: Is that what the makers of WIN 55212-2 did?

IM: Actually, I think the WIN compound was discovered by accident.
They were looking for something completely different.

Synapse: They weren't tweaking naturally occurring cannabinoids?

IM: Not at all.

Synapse: And this drug you're working with is a cannabinoid because it
binds to the cannabinoid receptor?

IM: Yes. And now they have other synthetic compounds that have been
screened for activity at the cannabinoid receptor.

Synapse: What makes a molecule want to bond with the cannabinoid
receptor? Is there some chemical group offering a special handshake?

IM: Basically, it's got to do with the makeup of the receptor. You
have certain amino acids and certain positive and negative charges which
have to match both the shape and the charges on the drug. So you can do
computer models to try to figure out what would be a good synthetic
compound. But those usually aren't that good at predicting what's going to
bind. Normally, it's just making a lot of compounds and screening them
[for function by biologic assay] and seeing what works.

Synapse: Do you talk to people back at the company? Are they following
your work? Could your work translate into big bucks for this company?

IM: I really don't know. I've come to this purely through scientific
interest and I never even think about that kind of thing. I probably

Synapse: When I read the story out of New Orleans, I thought about
those chemists in Basel 30 years ago, tweaking the amphetamine molecule to
come up with Ritalin.

IM: No, we really rely on what the chemists give us. They give us the
tools, and then we can kind of figure out what's happening...

Synapse: I have a vested interest in seeing that the appropriate
research is done on any drug that offers hope in the treatment of epilepsy.

IM: Of course there have been anecdotal reports of people using
marijuana to help their epilepsy. I'm sure it's just a matter of time
before scientists start looking at that actual mechanisms by which
cannabinoids can control seizures. It's through this type of research that
new and better treatments could result.

Synapse: Has your life changed since your paper was published?

IM: (laughs) A little bit. One part is people calling up and wanting
to know how they can get this drug to help them, because there are a lot of
people with really severe chronic pain for whom nothing to this point has
worked. So we've gotten some calls like that. Then you've got reporters
calling, wanting to know how it affects the whole political debate.

Synapse: And what's your line on that?

IM: My line is that it should be legal. It definitely should be legal
for people who need it to help with an illness or a disease like chronic
pain or epilepsy. And cannabis can really help. Basically the science is
just showing that there are very specific mechanisms by which cannabis can
help. People are taking this as a medicine, and for very specific reasons.
It's hard to get that point through.

Synapse: We've all had a lifetime of prejudice and propaganda.

IM: Absolutely... It's satisfying to really do the science.

* An agonist is a drug which binds to and activates a receptor. An antagonist
prevents the agonist from binding. A ligand is a compound, endogenous or
synthetic, that binds to a receptor.

Graphic - agonists, antagonists, and ligands

Q&A with Howard Fields

Howard L. Fields, MD, PhD is vice-chair and professor, Neurology and
professor, Physiology at UCSF.

Synapse: How could you have been in the field for 30 years and not
realized that marijuana had medical applications?

HF: It never occurred to me. I assumed that the drugs we had were good
enough but underutilized. Meaning morphine, codeine... The
opioid-containing medications tend to be underutilized. Patients -- and
doctors -- are deathly afraid that they'll become addicted. I've know a lot
of people who have used marijuana, and I've used it myself in the past, and
was never really aware that it was analgesic. Now people are coming along
and saying it seems to be very good as an analgesic. If they're right,
that's great.

To a layman it seems odd that when we haven't studied the naturally
occurring cannabinoids, we're studying a synthetic.

You can't study the naturally occurring ones very well.

Why not?

You don't know the concentration of the effective agent. It's
different from batch to batch. With the synthetics you know exactly how
much you're administering. And it's a simpler compound. Now you could say
"Why not take the natural product, see if you get analgesic effect and then
block it with the antagonist."

Yes, you could...

We now know two of the receptors for cannabis. And we know that you've
got a substance that's present in the natural product and acts at that
receptor. So if it gives you pain relief, you know that at least one agent
in the natural product does, and you have an idea about how it does it.
That leaves two problems. One: there might be something else in the natural
product other than what we know about and that what we know acts at the
cannabinoid receptor that might add to its effectiveness; or there might be
something there that detracts from its effectiveness. Or there might be
things that produce side effects or are toxic. So in my mind you're always
better off with a known molecule when you're doing research.

What does it mean to say that a plant contains 400 cannabinoids?

It's able to synthesize 400 slightly different molecules, all of which
act at the cannabinoid receptor... Your brain probably makes a dozen
endogenous opioids. And the opium resin probably contains seven or eight
that have slightly different actions on the body.

Wouldn't you assume that these actions would be modulating or

They might be.

People who've taken marinol say it knocks them on their butt in a way
that marijuana doesn't.

It's pure and it's in high concentration.

And it doesn't have the modulating effects of the other cannabinoids or
trace elements.

But we don't know that there are such things... I just read a paper
today where they found another endogenous cannabinoid in the brain: 2AG. So
the field is just exploding. The question is, what's its normal function?

What's your hypothesis?

I don't have one yet. I'm not an expert. I hope to become one. The
beauty of this whole thing is not so much that we're going to come up with
another drug to treat pain, but when all is said and done, we're going to
know more about what makes people the way they are. The whole trick is,
keep an open mind. You never know when the next insight's going to come.
This new cannabinoid has very powerful anti-memory action. So you have to
ask "Why does the brain have an anti-memory molecule?"

Obviously there are things too painful to recall.

Or maybe forgetting is part of learning. Maybe its an endogenous
antidepressant. We're going to learn something about memory that we never
would have suspected if it hadn't been for some serendipitous discovery
thousands of years ago that the hemp plant was fun to smoke. What's really
exciting to me is that our knowledge is really exploding; maybe we'll come
up with a drug that will improve people's memory. Maybe it'll be a
treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The main thing is, we've got a lever
here for understanding the brain, and only good can come of it as far as I'm

Remember This, Jurors (Judge's Letter To Editor Of 'Rocky Mountain News'
In Denver Agrees With Judge Ryan's Earlier Letter About Kriho Case
And Jurors' Lack Of Rights)

Rocky Mountain News
November 20, 1997
E-mail: letters@denver-rmn.com
November 20, 1997

Remember this, jurors

The Nov. 9 letter from Judge Jeffrey S. Ryan on the obligations of
jurors ("Judges decide the law, juries decide the facts") was right on
target. We operate under government by law and not by man. Otherwise,
wwe would have anarchy. A juror who willfully violates an order of the
court - the instructions from the judge - is subject to the contempt
powers of the court. Jurors would do well to remember this.

Russell A. Stuska

Note from JRP: Mr. Stuska is a Jefferson County Magistrate. Gilpin and
Jefferson counties comprise Colorado's first judicial district.

Rocky Mt. News
400 W. Colfax
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: (303) 892-5000
Fax: (303) 892-5499
Email: letters@denver-rmn.com
Web: http://www.denver-rmn.com

Note from JRP:

In the case which prompted the above legal professionals to write, Judge
Henry Nieto convicted Laura Kriho of contempt for failing to volunteer
answers to questions she wasn't asked. However, he specifically acquitted
her of the charge of violating an order of a court. Even Judge Nieto
understood that a judge can't order a jury how to think. Judge Nieto wrote:

"On the issue of disobedience to an order of the trial court,
this Court finds in favor of Ms. Kriho and against the People.
Instructions on the law given to a jury at the conclusion of a
trial are not orders of the court which, if violated by a juror,
can result in a finding of contempt. No evidence of the trial
court's orders to the jury was introduced by the People. Orders
given to jury concerning their conduct during the course of a
trial are court orders and might support a finding of contempt if
there was evidence that such an order was given and it was
deliberately violated."

-- Order by District Court Judge Henry E. Nieto

Feb. 10, 1997


Case No. 96 CR 91 - Colorado v. Kriho

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