Portland NORML News - Tuesday, February 24, 1998

Pot Grower Faces US Sentence - Her Medical-Use Claim May Win A Lighter Term
(Outrageous Story In 'Sacramento Bee' Documents Selective Enforcement
Of Federal Marijuana Laws In Attempt To Nullify
California Compassionate Use Act - No Jury Has Yet Convicted
A Medical Marijuana Patient, But Intimidated Defendant Copped To Plea
Offered By Assistant US Attorney Nancy L. Simpson - 'Defendant Agrees
To Make A Public Statement, Urging Others Not To Be Misled Into Believing
That They May Grow Medicinal Marijuana Without Being In Violation
Of Federal Law . . . If The Defendant's Public Statement . . .
Receives Media Coverage, The Government Agrees To Move
For A Reduced Sentence')

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 02:20:33 -0800 (PST)
From: Randy Chase 
To: hemp-talk@hemp.net
Subject: HT: mmj NOW ! News:
Sender: owner-hemp-talk@hemp.net
Newshawk: Joel W. Johnson (jwjohnson@netmagic.net)
Source: Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion@sacbee.com
Website: http://www.sacbee.com/
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998
Author: John Lyons - Bee Correspondent


The gulf dividing state and federal marijuana laws will take center
stage today in the sentencing of the first pot grower prosecuted by
the federal government despite her claims that California's
medical-marijuana law made her operation legal.

U.S. District Chief Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, who will hand down the
sentence, has said that the rift between the state law and stricter
federal drug statutes -- the latter make any marijuana possession
illegal -- could be grounds for a more lenient sentence for the

The woman, Roni L. Aurelio, pleaded guilty in December. It was the
first marijuana conviction won by the federal government against a
California resident who claimed to be growing marijuana for medical

The possibility that (Aurelio) relied on state law in determining the
legality of her conduct" will be taken into account during sentencing,
Karlton said in a Feb. 13 court order.

Legal analysts said the fact the judge is considering the impact of
the state statute could set a precedent for future federal cases where
defendants claim to possess the plant for medical use.

But even before Karlton's pre-sentencing statement, the U.S.
Attorney's Office had struck an unusual plea bargain with Aurelio that
seems to indicate prosecutors' recognition that unresolved differences
between the state and federal laws have created confusion.

Aurelio pleaded guilty in December to growing about 340 marijuana
plants in a greenhouse attached to her home. Her boyfriend, Richard
Maughs, and three others still face charges stemming from the
discovery of more than 1,200 pot plants nearby.

Aurelio claims in court documents and interviews not to know anything
about her boyfriend's garden location.

Arresting agents found posted signs at all the grow sites declaring
that the marijuana was meant for medical use. Court documents show
that the defendants freely showed the agents where the pot was being

"Can't we just grow marijuana for medicine?" one defendant asked,
according to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent's affidavit.
Two of the defendants have tried to have that statement suppressed in

About 56 percent of California voters approved Proposition 215 in
November 1996. It allows the cultivation and possession of marijuana
by seriously ill people and their caregivers.

Under federal law, however, all forms of marijuana possession remain a
crime. In practice, the federal government only prosecutes cases where
large numbers of plants are involved, so there have been relatively
few federal cases since the medical-marijuana initiative passed.
Aurelio's conviction is the first during that time.

Scott L. Tedmon, the court-appointed attorney defending Aurelio, said
his client was "extremely upset" after her indictment on federal
charges because she believed that growing marijuana for medical use
was legal.

"I started getting angry phone calls from people wondering why Roni
was still in jail," Tedmon said. "There seemed to be a lot of people
out there confused by Proposition 215."

That confusion appeared to have been tacitly acknowledged by the U.S.
Attorney's Office when prosecutors struck their unusual plea bargain
with Aurelio.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy L. Simpson, who is prosecuting Aurelio
and the four other defendants, offered the woman a reduced sentence in
December if she succeeded in spreading the word that marijuana
possession violates federal law.

The deal required Aurelio to attract media coverage to her story that
she was misled by literature produced by marijuana advocates after the
passage of Proposition 215, and that she was shocked by her federal
indictment. One newspaper article was reportedly published Monday.
"The defendant agrees to make a public statement, urging others not to
be misled into believing that they may grow 'medicinal marijuana'
without being in violation of federal law," the plea agreement states.
"If the defendant's public statement . . . receives media coverage,
the government agrees to move for a (reduced sentence)."

Simpson said the deal came at the suggestion of defense attorneys and
Aurelio, who claimed she was confused.

"If there were people out there with similar beliefs, then I wanted to
get the message out that growing marijuana is serious stuff and that
it is still illegal," Simpson said.

Under the plea bargain, Aurelio could get two to three months off her
prison term, or be released to a halfway house sooner. However,
federal judges are not bound by such deals.

Ephraim Margolin, a professor at UC Berkeley's Boalt School of Law,
called the deal "unusual" and said it could reflect prosecutors'
uneasiness at bringing a case while pronounced differences in the law
remain unresolved.

"No one likes to prosecute a case where the majority of the community
has said the activity in question should be legal," Margolin said.
"But I like the notion that lawyers can find ways to increase their
effect. If the public statement is the truth, then I think it serves
the good purpose of the government."

Law enforcement officials in Siskiyou County who investigated the case
strongly criticized the plea bargain. They believe Aurelio and the
other defendants were using Proposition 215 as a ploy to cover a large
scale, black market marijuana growing operation.

Detective John Glines, a member of the Siskiyou County marijuana
enforcement team based in Yreka, cites the large number of plants the
group is accused of growing, the premium price they allegedly charged
and the previous criminal records of some of the group's members.

According to court documents and interviews, Aurelio, her boyfriend
and three others signed contracts to grow marijuana for David Navarro,
a 24-year-old paraplegic who uses marijuana for medical reasons.

In an interview in the Sacramento County jail, Aurelio blamed Navarro
and other marijuana advocates for "tricking" her into believing pot
cultivation was legal. "I know I was wrong; I'm guilty," Aurelio said.
"Don't think you can grow pot, because the feds will come down on you

Law enforcement officials suggest, however, that the growers may have
sought out Navarro as a means to cover their operation behind a
"poster child" for the medical marijuana movement.

Pot Sentencing Shows Federal/State Differences ('Orange County Register'

Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 14:44:22 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US CA: Pot Sentencing Shows Federal/State Differences
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk:John W.Black
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998
Source:Orange County Register
Section:news,page 4
Author:John Lyons-Scripps-McClatchy Western Service


COURTS:A woman says California's medical-marijuana law made her pot-growing

SACRAMENTO-The gulf that divides state and federal marijuana laws will take
center stage today in the sentencing of the first pot grower prosecuted by
the federal government despite her assertions that California's
medical-marijuana law made her operation legal.

U.S. District Chief Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, who will hand down the
sentence, has said that the rift between the state law and stricter federal
drug statutes - the latter make any marijuana possession illegal - could be
grounds for a more lenient sentence for the grower.

The woman, Roni L. Aurelio, pleaded guilty in December, the first ever
marijuana conviction won by the federal government against a California
resident who said she was growing marijuana for medical use.

"The possibility that (Aurelio) relied on state law in determining the
legality of her conduct" will be taken into account during sentencing,
Karlton said in a Feb. 13 order.

Legal analysts said the fact the judge is considering the impact of the
state statute could set a precedent for future federal cases in which
defendants say they possess the plant for medical use.

But even before Karlton's presentencing statement, the U.S. Attorney's
Office had struck an unusual plea bargain with Aurelio that seems to
indicate prosecutors' recognition that unresolved differences between the
state and federal laws has created confusion.

Aurelio pleaded guilty in December to growing about 340 marijuana plants in
a greenhouse attached to her home. Her boyfriend, Richard Maughs, and three
others still face charges stemming from the discovery of more than 1,200
pot plants nearby.

Aurelio says in court documents and interviews that she did not know
anything about her boyfriend's marijuana garden.

Agents found posted signs at all the grow sites declaring that the
marijuana was meant for medical use. Court documents show that the
defendants freely showed the agents where the pot was being cultivated.

About 56 percent of California voters approved Proposition 215 in November
1996. It allows the cultivation and possession of marijuana by seriously
ill people and their caregivers.

Under federal law, however, all forms of marijuana possession remain a
crime. In practice, the federal government only prosecutes cases where
large numbers of plants are involved.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy L. Simpson, who is prosecuting Aurelio and
the four other defendants, offered the woman a reduced sentence in December
if she succeeded in spreading the word that marijuana possession violates
federal law.

Law-enforcement officials in Siskiyou County who investigated the case,
however, strongly criticized the plea bargain. They believe Aurelio and the
other defendants were using Proposition 215 as a ploy to cover a large
scale black-market marijuana growing operation.

Garden Grove May Hold Off On Marijuana Clubs ('Los Angeles Times'
Notes Officials In California City Are Expected To Approve Ban
On Medical Dispensaries Despite California Compassionate Use Act)

Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 11:53:05 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US CA: Garden Grove May Hold Off on Marijuana Clubs
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: http://www.latimes.com/
Fax: 213-237-4712
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998
Author: Cathy Werblin


In response to an attempt by medicinal marijuana advocates to establish a
distribution center in Garden Grove, city officials tonight are expected to
approve a moratorium on so-called cannabis clubs.

Council members will consider the temporary prohibition on organizations
attempting to distribute marijuana under terms of Proposition 215.

The move comes on the heels of a newly amended ordinance allowing the
revocation of business licenses issued to organizations found to be

"We want to put the clubs on hold until we figure out the real issues and
how to make sure that land uses in the city are compatible," City Manager
George Tindall said.

Tindall said the moratorium will give the city time to research the issue.

California voters in 1996 approved the use of marijuana for medicinal
purposes, but questions remain on the legality of distributing the drug.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Meeting Center, 11300
Stanford Ave.

Meeting Examines Medicinal Marijuana ('Reuters' Article About
Two-Day Conference On Medical Marijuana Called By Institute Of Medicine
In Washington, DC, Third And Final Meeting Scheduled As Part Of
Drug Czar McCaffrey's $1 Million Commissioned Study, 'Medical Use
Of Marijuana - Assessment Of The Science Base,'
To Be Issued In December 1998)

Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 16:04:00 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US: Wire: Meeting Examines Medicinal Marijuana
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998


WASHINGTON, DC -- A two-day conference to examine the potential medical
uses of marijuana or its active components began here Tuesday. The meeting
is sponsored by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a private, nonprofit group
that provides health policy advice.

"Any move to approve marijuana (for regulation) must be aided by good
clinical studies," Dr. J. Richard Crout, former director of the Bureau of
Drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday at the
Prospects for Cannabinoid Drug Development conference. This was the IOM's
third and final meeting and was designed to help the Institute gather
information for its study, Medical Use of Marijuana: Assessment of the
Science Base, which will be issued in December 1998.

Scientifically, it's difficult to conduct cannabis studies in humans, said
Dr. Billy R. Martin of the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. "The
effect of cannabis varies from person to person. This makes science
difficult to create a neat (cannabis study) model such as the opioid pain
model in humans," said Martin.

"There are ways to legitimize street marijuana for medicinal use," Crout
said. This would include removing marijuana from the controlled substance
act, removing penalties for possession, and changing Drug Enforcement
Agency policies.

However, since marijuana is a controlled substance, some of the changes
would require congressional action, Crout noted. "This would still not
remove the drug's stigma, the physician's role remains unclear" with use of
medicinal marijuana, and the product quality may be difficult to define,
Crout added,

Aside from political concerns, a key obstacle for pharmaceutical companies
is the small market potential for medicinal marijuana, commented Dr. Robert
E. Dudley of Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Drug
companies need to market to at least 100 million patients to make research
and development costs feasible, he said.

Marinol was approved by the FDA in 1985. Manufactured by Unimed, Marinol is
the only synthetic delta 9-THC product marketed worldwide, Dudley said. It
is used as an anti-emetic and appetite stimulant. The company petitioned
the FDA in 1995 to change the drug's schedule status, thus increasing
patient access to Marinol. The company expects to learn of the decision
sometime this year, Dudley said.

An IOM statement explains that while the meeting is being held to gather
information, "...no conclusions are being drawn at this time."

Comments To NAS Committee On Medical Marijuana (Rick Doblin
Of Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies
Shares His Testimony At The IOM Conference)

Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 14:53:18 -0800
To: octa99@crrh.org
From: alive@pacifier.com (Arthur Livermore)
Subject: Comments to NAS committee on medical marijuana
--forwarded message--
On Monday, February 23, 1998, I (Rick Doblin) testified before a committee
of the Institute of Medicine, of the National Academy of Sciences. The IOM
committee is conducting a study of the scientific basis for claims about
the medical utility of marijuana. The study is costing $1 million and is
being paid for by Gen. Barry McCaffrey (drug czar), Director of the Office
of National Drug Control Policy. The IOM committee has been instructed to
stay out of the policy arena and focus only on the science. Nevertheless,
I thought it important to bring to the attention of the Committee the
policy decisions that are limiting research that is needed to produce the
required scientific data about the use of smoked marijuana in patient

My impression of the hearings are that the members of the IOM committee were
genuinely sympathetic to the claims and struggles of the medical marijuana
patients and advocates who testified. My guess is that the report will
acknowledge that marijuana is indeed beneficial to some patients, will
recommend that research be encouraged into the development of various
synthetic cannabinoids and novel non-smoking delivery systems, and
will also conclude that research with smoked marijuana should be
permitted. We will know more in December, 1998, when the final peer-reviewed
report is scheduled to be released.

Here is the text of my testimony:

My name is Rick Doblin. I am a Public Policy Ph.D. student at Harvard's
Kennedy School of Government. My dissertation is focused on the regulation of
the medical use of Schedule 1 drugs. The Journal of Clinical Oncology, the
Annals of Internal Medicine, and the Journal of Addictive Diseases have all
published articles that I co-authored with Prof. Mark Kleiman, now of the
UCLA School of Public Policy, about the results of a survey we conducted
measuring the attitudes and experiences of oncologists regarding the use of
smoked marijuana and the oral THC capsule in the treatment of nausea and
vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. I'm submitting for your
information an unpublished paper we sent for peer-review about six months ago
to the Southern Medical Journal in which we respond to the latest critique of
our survey by Drs. Schwartz and Voth.

Of most relevance to my comments this afternoon is the fact that I founded
and currently direct a non-profit research and educational organization that
began almost six years ago to sponsor the efforts of Dr. Donald Abrams of UC
San Francisco to design and obtain approval for a scientific protocol to
study the use of smoked marijuana in the treatment of patients suffering from
the frequently fatal AIDS wasting syndrome. After a protracted, contentious
scientific and political struggle, Dr. Abrams was finally able to obtain all
the necessary approvals and funding for his research and will soon begin the
first study in fifteen years of the medical use of smoked marijuana in a
patient population. Unfortunately, no researchers other than Dr. Abrams that
I know of are even close to obtaining permission to study the use of smoked
marijuana in any other patient population.

I have four points to make today.

1) In order to determine the safest and most effective medicines for
patients, it is still absolutely necessary to conduct research in patients
with smoked marijuana. Studying only isolated cannabinoids is inadequate.
Without studies using smoked marijuana, there is no way to determine whether
the synergistic effects of the different cannabinoids in smoked marijuana are
more effective in the treatment of some or all clinical indications than the
isolated cannabinoids.

2) The current policies are intentionally and explicitly designed not to
facilitate clinical research with smoked marijuana but to impede that
research. Only with smoked marijuana, but not with THC, any other
cannabinoid, LSD, MDMA, ibogaine, DMT, psilocybin, or any other Schedule 1
drug, must researchers obtain an NIH grant before being able to initiate
FDA-approved research.

3) As a result of the extraordinary difficulties in obtaining permission to
study the use of smoked marijuana in patient populations, a tragic and
socially wasteful misdirection of scarce resources is taking place with
millions of dollars going to medical marijuana initiative campaigns instead
of to clinical research. For less money that will be spent on the initiative
campaigns in 1998, it would have been possible to gather all the data the FDA
needed to evaluate fully the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana not just
for one clinical indication but for four or five different indications.

4) The primary barrier to clinical research with smoked marijuana is NIDA's
monopoly on the supply of marijuana legal for use in FDA-approved research,
and the refusal of NIDA to provide marijuana to FDA-approved projects unless
such projects have also been federally funded after peer-review by the NIH.
Both the NIH's own Expert Committee on the Medical Utility of Marijuana and
the AMA's House of Delegates have recently recommended that NIDA provide
marijuana to all FDA-approved projects regardless of whether or not the
federal government funds the projects through the NIH. According to a
February 18, 1998 letter from NIDA Director Dr. Alan Leshner, the NIH is
"continuously reviewing" these recommendations. Translating from
"bureaucrat-speak", this means that the status quo impeding research
continues unchanged.

As evidence that current policies impede research, I am submitting for your
review a copy of a Clinical Plan for the study of the medical use of smoked
marijuana that FDA officials and I worked together to develop, and that was
finalized and filed with the FDA in March, 1994. This Clinical Plan was
submitted to the FDA in conjunction with Dr. Abrams' initial FDA IND
application that the non-profit organization that I direct was sponsoring and
was willing to fund. The FDA approved Dr. Abrams' protocol but his research
was blocked since he was unable to obtain any marijuana from NIDA for his
study. I urge you to take particular note of the timetables listed in the
Clinical Plan. By December, 1998, around the time when you issue your report,
all the clinical research required by the FDA to evaluate fully the safety
and efficacy of smoked marijuana for a wide variety of patient groups could
have been completed. All that would have been required for this Clinical
Plan to have been implemented, with virtually no cost to the taxpayer, would
have been the provision by NIDA of only a small fraction of the marijuana
that it has already provided to the eight patients who have received
marijuana from NIDA legally since the Clinical Plan was submitted to the FDA.

I urge you to recommend that medical marijuana research be facilitated, that
all FDA-approved protocols receive marijuana from NIDA, and that
privately-funded non-profit or for-profit medical marijuana research
organizations be permitted to establish their own marijuana production and
research facilities.

Dignity (Floyd Ferris Landrath Of American Antiprohibition League
Gives An Update On Weekly Demonstrations In Support Of
Portland Methadone Clinic Set Upon By Ignorant Neighbors)

Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 03:03:56 -0800 (PST)
From: Anti-Prohibition Lg 
To: cannabis-patriots-l@teleport.com
Subject: CanPat> Dignity
Sender: owner-cannabis-patriots-l@teleport.com



Drug War or Drug Peace?


Tuesday, Feb. 24, 1998

Portland, Oregon -- For the last 3 weeks the Antiprohibition League
has been conducting street-side demonstrations of support for methadone
patients under attack by a small, but very angry group of local anti-
drug zealots. Over the weeks we have witnessed several nasty
encounters between clinic patients and these hardheaded antagonists.

"We try hard to ignore the clinic protesters," League director Floyd
Landrath recently told the Portland Harm Reduction Coalition, a group
of public and private health and welfare organizations including the
Harm Reduction Zone. "We want to focus positive energy towards the
patients and clinic. We don't want to incite anyone or add to the
already tense atmosphere the protesters create by crowding around the
clinic entrance holding degrading signs like, 'No Methadone Juice Bar
Here'. It's a bad situation," Landrath concluded.

Patients often cover their faces as they scurry into the clinic for
their life-saving medicine, methadone. But some don't, like Billy for

"I'm 20 years sober and crime-free," Billy yells in my ear over the
sound of several cars honking their horns in support. A thin, frail
man in his late-fifties, Billy tells me about his days as a hell-
raising outlaw, addicted to heroin and alcohol by the age of 15, after
which he says he lost the next decade and an half of his life.

Billy has survived to repay his debt to society (5 years in prison
for armed robbery), AA helped him put away the bottle and methadone got
him off street heroin. Billy now works full-time as a clerk in a local
store. By outside appearances his is a modest life, but what you can't
see is the heroic struggle it took to get here. There are many such
stories at the methadone clinic.

Billy claims he's alive today because of methadone and says he nearly
died 6 times from heroin overdose during his junkie days. He gets very
agitated at the clinic protesters, "It's a pride thing," he tells me.
"I am somebody! I am a patient, I have a disease called addiction, but
I am getting better," he emphatically adds. "I have regained my
dignity now and I'm not going to let a bunch of narrow minded bigots
take that away from me."

For the next hour Billy held the "Honk for Methadone" sign.


Molokai Gov Candidate Will Halt Drug War ('Molokai Advertiser News'
Notes Its Publisher, George Peabody Of Molokai, Has Announced
He Is A Libertarian Party Contender To Be Hawaii's Next Governor)

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 04:30:59 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US HI: Molokai Gov Candidate Will Halt Drug War
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: John McClain
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998
Source: Molokai Advertiser News


Libertarian George Peabody of Molokai Says He Will Seek Votes for Top Office:
Governor of Hawaii

"Set My People Free," says candidate George Peabody, 1-808-558-8253
email to molokai@aloha.net

Kaunakakai -- Island politics is about to be liberated and Taxpayers will
be freed from monster government, that is if voters elect Libertarian
George "Aloha" Peabody to the Office of Governor of Hawaii. He gives
Voters a choice like no other being offered in this election: Freedom or
continued Taxpayer-Slavery. "No other candidate for Governor wants to
reduce government size and costs and restore freedom, liberty, and
individual sovereignty to citizens of the State of Hawaii. If elected, I
will dismiss all government institutions that do not serve the function
that government was intended to do in a free society-protect the citizens'
rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I will restore a
constitutional republic to Hawaii, and I will resist any interference by
the Federal government in the sovereign affairs of Hawaii.."

The publisher of Molokai Advertiser News (aka The MA.N.), the longest lived
weekly newspaper of Molokai says he is planning to seek the state's highest
office. "A Libertarian Party of Hawaii candidate for the Office of
Governor would present a very clear choice to voters: Freedom from Big
Government vs Taxpayer-Slavery as Republi-Crats' Tax & Spend us all to

Peabody says he is advocating ".....a 50% cut in size of government and
taxes, with a corresponding increase in private sector jobs and new
businesses created by the wealth Taxpayers will not have to pay to
government. I promise to uphold the sovereignty of the State against
federal interference by: halting the war on drugs in Hawaii and refusing
federal funds for such purposes, and releasing all non-violent offenders
from our jails in order to make room for real criminals; public education
will be privatized so all students and teachers can attend a private school
of their choice, and the political control over development of students
will be eliminated thus giving new and reality-oriented education
opportunities to all while saving Taxpayers $500,000,000 year."

No doubt about: a Libertarian candidate for Office of Governor will give
voters a clear choice.

Supreme Court Reviews Rockford Cocaine Case ('Chicago Tribune'
Article About 'The Men Who Introduced Crack Cocaine To Rockford, Illinois,'
Now Serving Mandatory Minimums Including Life Without Parole, Says The Issue
Being Considered By The US Supreme Court Is Whether The Jury
Rather Than The Judge Should Have Determined The Type And Amount Of Cocaine
Attributable To Each Defendant)

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 03:20:43 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US: Supreme Court Reviews Rockford Cocaine Case
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Steve Young
Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 1998
Source : Chicago Tribune
Section: sec. 1, page 8
Author: Jan Crawford Greenburg, Washington Bureau
Contact: tribletter@aol.com
Website: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/


WASHINGTON - To prosecutors, the men who introduced crack cocaine to
Rockford, Ill., were "modern-day gangster" who deserved every day of their
harsh jail sentences.

Two got life in prison without a chance of parole. Others got prison terms
of 10 to 26 years, also without parole, from U.S. District Judge Philip
Reinhard, who said he was setting an example.

The men maintained they were being punished too severely, and Monday they
took those arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an hourlong hearing, the justices considered whether the judge went
overboard when he handed down the stiff sentences to members of "The Mob,"
a Rockford street gang hit hard in a major drug crackdown in 1993.

Chicago lawyer Steven Shobat argued that the judge calculated the sentences
incorrectly, after making decisions that should have been left up to the

The court's ruling could affect numerous other federal drug cases, but it
likely would have the most dramatic impact on the two Rockford defendants
facing life in prison. If the court accepts their argument, Karl Fort and
Reynolds Wintersmith could be out in 30 years.

The case touches on the controversial discrepancy between the punishment
handed down for distributing powder cocaine and that for crack cocaine.

Federal sentencing guidelines punish defendants much more severely for
selling crack than for selling powder cocaine, and opponents have long
argued the distinction is racist.

At issue in the Rockford case is whether the judge can sentence the
defendants for selling crack and powder cocaine if the jury, when finding
them guilty, did not determine the type of drug involved or the amount. The
judge determined the amounts of powder and crack cocaine attributable to
each defendant.

Shobat argued that because the jury verdict was ambiguous and did not
specify whether the defendants were guilty of dealing powder or crack
cocaine or both, the judge could not make those findings at sentencing.

Instead, where there is no jury finding, the judge is required to sentence
the men on the lesser offense, which in this case involved powder cocaine,
Shobat said.

The argument came on a day when the justices refused to get involved in
several other high-profile cases, including one from New Jersey that asked
justices to strike down a community-notification statute known as "Megan's

New Jersey enacted the law in 1995, after a twice-convicted sex offender
raped and murdered 7-year-old Meagan Kanka, who lived near his home. It
requires authorities to notify communities and, in some cases, individual
residents when convicted sex offenders are living in their midst.

Since then, 36 other states, including Illinois, have passed similar statutes.

The Illinois law took affect in 1996 and makes available at local police
stations the names and addresses of some 3,600 convicted child-sex
offenders in the state. Schools and day-care centers receive the
information quarterly.

The court's decision not to review the New Jersey law does not necessarily
mean other state laws will withstand Supreme Court review. Indeed, other
challenges are expected but likely will be on different grounds.

In the New Jersey case, a group of convicted sex offenders argued that the
law placed them in double jeopardy, in violation of the 5th Amendment,
because it punishes them more than once for the same crime. After serving
their sentences, the men argued, they again were punished by the
notification and the public's reaction.

Challenges to other community-notification laws are expected to rest on
other constitutional provisions, including the right to privacy.

Drug War A Matter Of Health (Letter To Editor Of 'The Oklahoman'
By Mark D. Woodward, Public Information Officer For Oklahoma Bureau
Of Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs Control, Says Laws Against Illegal Drugs
Are Based On Public Health Concerns, A Demonstrably Untrue Assertion)

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 18:55:23 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: US OK: LTE: Drug War A Matter Of Health
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Michael A. Clem, OK NORML 
Source: The Oklahoman
Pubdate: 24 Feb 1998
Contact form: http://www.oklahoman.com/?ed-writeus
FAX: 405.475.3988
Website: http://www.oklahoman.com/


To The Editor:

Michael A. Clem (''Your Views,'' Feb. 18) rants about the money he believes
is being foolishly spent fighting drugs in this country. Mr. Clem, this is
not a money issue. It is about health and safety and those whose lives are
being torn apart because of drugs. At what point do we stop spending money
because it's too expensive to protect children and adults?

Clem suggests that the ''War on Drugs'' hasn't worked. He mentioned the 3.6
million chronic drug users in this country. That's less than 3 percent of
the population. Thus, 97 percent of this country is staying clear of drugs.
Furthermore, drug use in the United States dropped for 12 straight years
(1980 to 1992) because of the policing, treatment and education strategies
of the drug war.

As for decriminalizing drug offenses, Clem should look at other countries
that have tried this. Legalization has been a monumental failure; these
countries are now strengthening their laws due to increased crime and
record addiction rates. Don't be fooled into thinking that legalizing drugs
will do anything but add fuel to the inferno. Look what happened when
alcohol was legalized. Lifting the ban on prohibition did little to solve
alcohol-related accidents, addiction rates and numerous other problems
associated with what is currently the most abused drug in the U.S.

Mark D. Woodward
Public Information Officer
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics And Dangerous Drugs Control

Judge Rules Signatures Should Count (Maine Public Radio
Says Superior Court Justice Donald Alexander Has Ruled
That Mainers For Medical Rights Should Be Allowed To Submit 2,500 Signatures
To The Secretary Of State That The City Of Portland Failed To Process
On Time - Getting On Ballot Still Unlikely)

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 02:31:02 EST
Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: Dave Fratello <104730.1000@compuserve.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: MPR/Judge rules signatures should count

Maine Public Radio
"Maine Things Considered"
February 24, 1998
5:40 PM

Announcer: "A judge has ordered the state to accept petitions that would
put the issue of medical use of marijuana to a vote even though the
petitioners did not meet the deadline for submitting the signatures.
Mainers for Medical Rights blamed the City of Portland for failing to
certify the signatures within the ten days required by law. Portland's City
Clerk said that the then-looming referendum on gay rights, and an ice
storm, had created a backlog of paperwork. They completed the task last
week, almost a month late. Today, Superior Court Justice Donald Alexander
ruled that supporters of the medical use of marijuana should be allowed
to submit those additional 2,500 signatures to the Secretary of State. That
pleases the group's attorney, Jamie Kilbreth."

Jamie Kilbreth:"I think the judge recognized that the petitioners had done
everything they were supposed to do, and because of a combination of
circumstances, were going to be deprived of an opportunity to be considered
for the ballot, and thought that it was within the equitable powers of the
court to fix that. So we're very pleased he made that decision."

Announcer: "Kilbreth says that the ruling shouldn't necessarily trigger any
changes in the timeframe allowed to verify signatures because Portland's
clerks were working under unusually difficult conditions this year. The
Attorney General's office had argued that lifting the deadline for the
signatures would send a confusing message about restrictions under which
all petitioners must operate. But in his decision, Justice Alexander
writes, quote, 'There is serious question as to whether the deadlines in
the Constitution are as absolute and are as to be mechanically applied as
the State urges. There is no question that the petitioners had a right
under the Constitution to have their timely presented signatures processed
by the City of Portland by January 30th, 1998,' unquote. Assistant Attorney
General Phyllis Gardner says the state has not yet decided whether to
appeal the decision."

Phyllis Gardner: "We have received Justice Alexander's decision today and
we are in the process of reviewing it with the Secretary of State and
considering the options."

Announcer: "The Secretary of State's office would have to find at least
51,131 signatures valid in order to bring the question to a vote. The group
has submitted only about 70 more signatures than they need, and it's not
unusual for scores of signatures to be declared invalid. If the petitions
make it over that hurdle, the bill legalizing the use of marijuana for
medical purposes would come back before lawmakers, who are likely to send
the question out to voters next November."


NOTE: This story fails to address the additional 400 signatures submitted
by Mainers for Medical Rights which were turned in to towns other than
Portland before the statutory deadline, but also not processed in time. It
is the view of proponents that these signatures will also be counted toward
the final total.

Scare Tactics By Drug Companies ('Associated Press' Says US Food And Drug
Administration Has Logged More Than 2,500 Reports Of Side Effects, 79 Deaths
Associated With Herbal Dietary Supplements - American Association
Of Poison Control Centers Is Beginning Study To Track Poisonings
From Supplements, Something US Government Has Yet To Do
With Most Pharmaceutical Drugs)

Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 07:41:05
To: Mattalk@islandnet.com
From: Kathy Galbraith (galbraith@upanet.cc.uleth.ca)
Subject: Scare tactics by drug companies


WASHINGTON (AP) - Burkhard Bilger and his wife never had heard that the
ancients used the herb pennyroyal to induce abortion. They just liked the
tangy mint taste of pennyroyal tea - until she discovered she was two months
pregnant, and her doctor asked her to avoid caffeine.

Soon after, Jennifer Bilger had a miscarriage.

When he learned the tea may have been to blame, ``I was horrified,'' said
Bilger, a New York science editor who contends supplements don't come with
proper warnings. ``There are a lot of very potent herbs out there. You go into
a food co-op, and you don't know what you're getting.''

An Associated Press analysis of Food and Drug Administration records suggests
Bilger's experience is not uncommon: The agency has logged more than 2,500
reports of side effects and 79 deaths associated with dietary supplements.

About 900 of the illnesses and 44 deaths involved people taking herbal
products that contain ephedrine-like stimulants. Other possible culprits range
from ``diet teas'' to hormones like DHEA and even high-dose vitamins.

Millions of Americans take dietary supplements, particularly the herbs that
are the fastest-growing segment. They spent $3.2 billion last year.

Supplements promise they'll slow aging, improve memory, clean kidneys, protect
the heart, even prevent cancer.

There is evidence that certain herbs, vitamins and minerals do help. Folic
acid prevents birth defects. Calcium wards off osteoporosis. Many scientists
agree that garlic may help lower cholesterol, ginger calms nausea, and
valerian is a mild sleep aid. The National Institutes of Health is studying
whether St. John's wort is an anti-depressant.

But scores of other products have sparse, if any, data to support claims that
even some in the industry call exaggerated. The pills, tonics and teas sell
with little to guide consumers about what actually works or potential side

``You almost have to be a detective,'' said Mary Ellen Camire, food sciences
chief at the University of Maine, who studies natural remedies.

Most such products do not raise safety concerns, said Elizabeth Yetley, FDA's
chief of special nutritionals, but the agency has listed 16 supplements as

``You're self-medicating,'' notes Mark Blumenthal of the nonprofit American
Botanical Council. ``People should learn how to use these products

The boom in dietary supplements dates to 1994, when Congress shielded them
from most government oversight. They sell without prior certification or
purity inspections.

The 1994 law prohibited supplements from advertising that they directly treat
or prevent disease but allowed more vague claims of ``supporting bodily
functions.'' The FDA is supposed to intercede only if it proves a supplement
poses an unreasonable risk or is marketed as a drug.

The result is a gray area where Vitamin A, for example, can advertise as
``essential for healthy vision'' but not to treat eye diseases. Willow bark
contains the same chemical as aspirin but doesn't have to carry aspirin's
warning: ``Do not give to children or teen-agers with flu or chickenpox
because they could develop deadly Reye's syndrome.''

A presidential commission called last fall for changes to clear the confusion.
It urged the FDA to review herbal supplements and let those that clearly work
sell as over-the-counter drugs - clearly labeled with proved benefits and side

The panel also urged that industry provide studies backing a product's claims
if consumers request proof, that the FDA act swiftly against risky
supplements, and that makers adopt proper warnings.

Some in industry already are acting. A new American Herbal Products
Association handbook classifies the risks of 700 herbs with suggested warning
labels for its 200 member companies.

And the botanical council this spring will publish a long-awaited translation
of Germany's ``Commission E'' safety and effectiveness evaluations of 300
herbal products, 200 of which were approved as drugs in that country. The
document is considered the world's best guide.

``There is a sensitivity in the industry about all the concerns that exist and
the need to provide as much information as possible,'' said Annette Dickinson
of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

She said the FDA has not acted appropriately against exaggerated claims or, in
the ephedra case, risky supplements.

The FDA's first response to the presidential commission may come by Tuesday.
Officials say they haven't decided whether some supplements can become
nonprescription drugs as recommended.

Instead, they first will better define just what claims supplements can make -
that ``maintaining healthy cholesterol'' could be OK, while ``lowering blood
pressure'' would not be.

Regulations aside, experts warn that ``natural'' doesn't necessarily mean

Take ephedra. Chinese herbalists made teas from these plants to open clogged
airways. But those teas contained just 1 percent ephedrine alkaloids, or
stimulants, while modern supplements contain up to 9 percent, Camire said.
Pushed as weight-loss or bodybuilding pills, they are taken today for far
longer periods, and some are concentrated into herbal variations of the
illegal drug speed.

Faced with reports of 44 deaths - including heart attacks in healthy college
students - the FDA proposed slashing ephedrine dosages in supplements and
banning their sale for weight loss or bodybuilding.

Yetley acknowledges the FDA lacks a good safety net to catch risks. Consumers
and doctors can report suspected side effects, but the information is often
too sketchy to pinpoint blame.

To help, the American Association of Poison Control Centers is beginning a
study to track supplement poisonings.

Five Hundred Treated After Used-Needle Jabs ('Vancouver Sun'
Says About 500 British Columbian Public Health And Safety Workers
Had To Be Placed On Anti-HIV/AIDS Drug Regimens Last Year As A Precaution
After Being Jabbed By Used Needles - Alarming Rate Prompts
Lower Mainland Hospitals To Try Out New Safety Syringe)

Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 03:02:21 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: Canada: 500 Treated After Used-Needle Jabs
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Pubdate: Tue 24 Feb 1998 A1 / Front
Source: Vancouver Sun (Canada)
Contact: sunletters@pacpress.southam.ca
Website: http://www.vancouversun.com/
Author: Pamela Fayerman, Sun Health Issues Reporter


About 500 health and safety workers had to be placed on anti-HIV/AIDS drug
regimens as a precaution last year after being jabbed by used needles.

At St. Paul's Hospital alone, there were 80 needlestick injuries in 1997
among hospital employees, 25 of which involved patients who were HIV

There has been only one case in B.C. of a health-care worker contracting
HIV from a patient through a needlestick injury, according to Dr. David
Patrick, an associate director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. The
unidentified worker, who has not yet developed AIDS, was infected a few
years ago at St. Paul's, he said.

But the alarming rate at which health-care workers, police officers,
firefighters, and ambulance attendants find themselves stuck by dirty
needles has prompted some Lower Mainland hospitals to try out a new safety

Nurses at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster got trained Monday in
the use of the new syringes, which allow the user to sheath the needle as
it is withdrawn from the patient.

Needlestick injuries occur in a variety of ways -- housekeeping workers can
get pricked after nurses fail to either cap conventional needles or nurses
may forget to immediately dispose of used syringes in a ``sharps'' bucket.

Police officers doing searches of suspects have also been pricked.

Last year, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's
Hospital distributed 500 antiretroviral drug cocktail regimens for
community workers pricked by used needles.

Occupational health and safety coordinator Nancy McMillan said hospital
employees have been educated to seek help within two hours of getting poked.

``We treat everything as a high-risk incident, even though it raises the
anxiety level,'' she said.

Both patient and the susceptible health-care worker are tested for HIV and
Hepatitis A, B and C status at the time of the incident.

While waiting for the bloodwork to come back from the laboratory,
health-care workers are put on HIV/AIDS drug cocktails. If the tests come
back negative, the drug cocktails are abandoned after a few days.

If they are positive, the workers remain on the treatment for a month,
enduring the fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite that are common side

Followup testing continues periodically for a year on the affected workers.
HIV/AIDS expert Dr. Martin Schechter said people who go on the newest
antiretroviral drugs very quickly after exposure reduce their risk of
acquiring HIV by up to 80 per cent.

Maureen Carignan, equipment and supplies manager for the Simon Fraser
Health Region, said while no one at Royal Columbian Hospital has contracted
HIV from a patient there through needlestick injury, workers are
justifiably concerned.

At about $1 each, the new safety syringes are normally almost 10 times more
expensive than conventional syringes, but the region was able to negotiate
a lower price, Carignan said.

Vancouver Hospital and St. Paul's will convert to the new syringes if the
money can be found in their budgets for the next fiscal year.

Carole Taylor, manager of employee health and safety at Vancouver Hospital,
said there were 209 cases of needlestick injuries among workers last year
and a study showed the new needle system would prevent 18 per cent of
high-risk injuries.

Education programs reminding workers about safe practices is considered an
even greater hedge against injury.

Judith McGuire, head of the needle exchange program on the Downtown
Eastside, said the safety syringes are perfect for hospitals, but wouldn't
hold much appeal for drug addicts.

``The theory of using a syringe once, then locking it so it can't be shared
sounds great, but the reality with drug addicts is that they use their
syringes three to four times before getting them exchanged with new ones.
Since they are used only once, it would be virtually impossible to
distribute enough,'' she said, referring to the fact that the needle
exchange already distributes 2.5 million syringes each year.

McGuire said two needle exchange workers got pricked by accident last year,
but they went on the prophylactic drug treatment and neither has contracted

Sandra Buckler, public relations manager for the Workers' Compensation
Board, said an information booklet on how to prevent blood-borne diseases
through needlestick injuries is being produced.



The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.

Comments, questions and suggestions. E-mail

Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/

Next day's news
Previous day's news

Back to 1998 Daily News index for February 19-25

Back to Portland NORML news archive directory

Back to 1998 Daily News index (long)

This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/980224.html