How to fight recriminalization in the Oregon Legislature

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Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 From: Phil Smith Subject: 'Oregonian' endorses recrim Dear activist, Below is the Oregonian's endorsement of recriminalizing marijuana, from this morning's (May 3) paper. I hope you'll respond to them and spread this around for others to do the same. If anyone is familiar with the studies they cite, I'd love to see copies of what you write in response. Please edit and send copies of this to your state senators, representatives and the governor, too. At the bottom is a "Letter to the Editor" I wrote to the paper Wednesday, correcting them on an egregious factual error. (It was news to me that California had recriminalized marijuana. I wrote too angrily, but it's unforgivable that they never ran a correction.) It goes to show how they are going out of their way to distort the record and promote the drug war. They've been lying to Oregonians so long that they must not have any respect for readers at all. So if you are from outside Oregon or the United States, your objectivity might help shame them. This is no small-town paper - The Oregonian has a circulation of 300,000, 450,000 on Sundays, the second-largest newspaper on the left coast after the LA Times. Its influence in Oregon is hard to overestimate. To help you rebut the paper's ludicrous assertion that recrim will save taxpayers money, I have just posted as a web page the study Paul Freedom sent out earlier today to several lists, "Savings In California Marijuana Law Enforcement Costs Attributable to the Moscone Act of 1976 - A Summary," from the 'Journal of Psychoactive Drugs,' showing that decrim saved California at least $1 billion in its first 10 years (and probably at least another $1 billion since then). The article is posted at Portland NORML's web site at: It's listed in our "Articles" section alphabetically by title. Phil Smith Assistant Director Portland NORML -------------------------------------------------------------- The Oregonian staff editorial Saturday, May 3, 1997 "Not Going To Pot" After more than two decades of treating it like jaywalking, Oregon lawmakers want to turn up the heat on marijuana use The Oregon House of Representatives took exactly the right step in exactly the right direction this week when it recriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Legislators approved House Bill 3643, which makes possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a class C felony instead of the minor that it has been for the past 24 years. The Senate should quickly approve the bill, and Gov. John Kitzhaber ought to sign it. The governor's spokesman was skeptical of the bill because some have predicted that it would increase court costs and create more costs for jailing people arrested and convicted under the law. That's questionable logic - sort of like opposing laws against drunken driving because of the court time the cases take up. Further, it is equally likely that the tougher law could ultimately save the state time and money because of its deterrent effect. The law's central feature is a mechanism to allow first-time offenders the option of diversion instead of conviction and possible jail time. This is an approach that works well in other cases - drunken driving, for example - and holds some promise in the effort to reverse some alarming trends in marijuana use. The most alarming of these is the increase in marijuana use among eighth and 11th graders that 1996 student surveys discovered. From 1990 to 1996, the percentage of eighth graders who said they had used marijuana in the month before the survey rose from 4.5 percent to 15.3 percent. For 11th graders the percentage rose from 12.9 to 21.7, according to the Regional Drug Initiative. If there is not exactly proof that the tougher law will deter use, the evidence does suggest that the reverse is true - more lenient laws promote marijuana use. Dr. Richard Schwartz, professor of pediatrics Georgetown University School of Medicine wrote in 1994 that the states with the most lenient marijuana laws - Oregon and Alaska - also had the highest addiction rates, at double the national average. Carol Stone, executive director of the Regional Drug Initiative, argues that tougher laws will, indeed, deter marijuana use. "A lot of the real experts in this are kids in high school and younger," Stone says. "And they say that tougher laws 'send a message to us that it isn't playtime any longer.'" "There is no small irony in the fact that the lawmakers from the generation that introduced marijuana to mainstream America are the ones now seeking to turn back the tide their cohorts unleashed. But if you add another piece of information to the mix - that marijuana available today is maybe 60 times as potent as that of the 1960s - there is powerful evidence that the times, they are a-changin'. And that they ought to. ------------------------------------------------------ April 30, 1997 To the editor, The best explanation for the Oregon House's regressive vote to recriminalize marijuana has to do with the failure of media such as The Oregonian to publicize proponents' unchecked campaign of lies. For example, "Bill would criminalize marijuana once again" (April 30, 1997), reports that "In 1973, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Other states followed, but later reversed themselves, leaving Oregon alone in its permissiveness, said Darin Campbell, lobbyist for the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police." That is a lie. The extent of police lying during the campaign to recriminalize marijuana has been characteristically ignored by The Oregonian, the biggest liar of them all. As reported in February by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws [full text below]: "During the 1970s, 11 American states adopted modified versions of marijuana decriminalization, led by Oregon in 1973. ... Only one of these states, Alaska in 1990, has recriminalized marijuana." The lives and futures of countless innocent people are in your hands. If your willfully ignorant and biased reporters and editors would take a few moments to fact-check such assertions or consistently and equitably solicit comment from both sides on such issues, legislators and the public might begin to understand how stupid, expensive and counterproductive recriminalization would be. When will The Oregonian stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution? Phil Smith for confirmation: (personal info omitted)
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 From: Phil Smith Subject: Update - Help Fight Recrim in Oregon Dear activist, Here's the latest. As I understand it, the Oregon House of Representatives has a second reading tomorrow, Monday, April 28, of HB 3643, which would recriminalize an ounce or less of cannabis in this state. Under normal procedures, a bill must receive three readings before it can pass. HB 3643 is expected to get its third reading on Tuesday, April 29, I believe. It's urgent that you do as much lobbying as possible in the next day or so. Below are some related e-mails with more information and instructions. (I've done a little editing.) Contact information is included below. I'll summarize here: 1) Call Speaker of the House Lynn Lundquist 2) Call your representative (again) 3) Call your senator (again) 4) Call Rep. Minnis (optional - we still want to lobby this guy - politely) 5) Fax or write your local media about what's really going on, and protest. Thanks for your help, Phil Smith Assistant Director Portland NORML --------------------------------------------------------------- On April 24 Sandee Burbank ( wrote: Friends, >I just sent you a message asking you to call Rep. Minnis. It a lost cause! > >It has been suggested that we would better spend out energy calling the >Speaker of the House, Lynn Lundquist, and lobbying him for extended >hearings on HB3643 or for hearings on HB 2900 or Resolution 11, so that at >least we can raise the issue of medical necessity. >Rep. Eighmey will be giving a minority report on the floor that will >include an amendment to HB3643 allowing a medical necessity defense, AFTER >YOU ARE CHARGED. Not good enough for sick people who don't need the kind of >intrusion the police bring. > >Mr. Lundquist was a very nice man, who seemed reasonable and who may help >us. >Please be very polite, as he may be the only one who can really help us and >he may just be disposed to do just that. > >Thanks, >Sandee ----------------------------------------------------------------- Sandee makes an important point here. Many legislators are saying they can't support Rep. Eighmey's medical-marijuana bill, HB 2900, because policy has already been pre-empted by the federal government. That is why it's important to respond to such evasions with a request to vote for Resolution 11, which asks Congress to move forward on medical marijuana. Contact information: Legislature switchboard: 1 (800) 332-2313 Within Salem: 986-1187 Speaker of the House Lynn Lundquist H-269 State Capitol Salem, OR 97310 Tel. (503) 986-1200 House second floor fax: (503) 986-1598 (check first) E-mail: Web page: Rep. John Minnis H-374 State Capitol Salem, OR 97310 Tel. (503) 986-1420 Third floor fax: (503) 986-1130 (check first) e-mail - rep.minnis@or.state Fax: (503) 986-1130 Remember: Be polite. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Those fighting for recrim in the legislature have rallied behind the cry that enhancing penalties for adults will reduce kids' consumption of cannabis. There is no credible evidence that has ever happened, and much evidence to the contrary (look around you). For example, the article ensuing, "US Government: No Link Between Marijuana Decrim and Increased Pot Use," by Paul Armentano of NORML, shows the government's own research flatly contradict such claims. US GOVERNMENT: NO LINK BETWEEN MARIJUANA DECRIM AND INCREASED POT USE BY PAUL ARMENTANO NORML Director of Publications February 1997 The study's findings flatly contradict the government's prohibitionist rhetoric At a time when politicians appear to be champing at the bit in favor of increasing state and federal marijuana penalties as a means to curb adolescent use, NORML would like to spotlight the conclusions of the only federal study ever conducted regarding the impact of marijuana decriminalization on youth. During the 1970s, 11 American states adopted modified versions of marijuana decriminalization, led by Oregon in 1973. In the majority of these states, possession of limited quantities of marijuana was modified from a criminal offense to a civil violation. Each of these states retained a modest fine, similar to a traffic ticket, but eliminated arrest and jail. Only one of these states, Alaska in 1990, has recriminalized marijuana. In 1981, the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan released "Occasional Paper 13," entitled Marijuana Decriminalization: The Impact On Youth 1975-1980. The purpose of the study was to "assess the impact of [decriminalization] at the state level on marijuana use by American young people;" the report additionally examined "the impact on their attitudes, beliefs, and peer norms relating to [marijuana] use." To ascertain the findings, Monitoring the Future used data gathered from most of the remaining 39 states that had not decriminalized pot (the control group) and compared them with findings from 10 of the 11 states that had done so. The salient results: + The data show "absolutely no evidence [in the decrim states] of any increase, relative to the control states, in the proportion of the age group who ever tried marijuana." + "The degree of disapproval young people hold for marijuana use, to the extent which they believe such use is harmful, and the degree to which they perceive the drug to be available to them [was] found to be unaffected." + There exists no evidence "of an increase in the frequency of use in the marijuana-using segment of the population. ...In fact, both groups of experimental states showed a small, cumulative net decline in lifetime prevalence, as well as in annual and monthly prevalence, after decriminalization." In sum, the Monitoring the Future study concluded: + "Overall, the preponderance of the evidence which we have gathered and examined points to the conclusion that decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among American young people." To the prohibitionist community, the conclusion drawn by this report is damaging. Historically, prohibitionists have argued that the number of individuals experimenting with marijuana would dramatically increase if the federal government were to enact decriminalization; and recently, they have tried to blame "mixed messages" regarding marijuana's perceived harmfulness as one of the chief reasons for the purported upsurge in adolescent use. However, the only federal study ever commissioned and conducted to examine this issue flatly refutes both speculations, indicating that neither use rates nor attitudes regarding marijuana have fluctuated because of decriminalization. When Dr. Lloyd Johnston of the Monitoring the Future project, one of the three authors of this Impact On Youth report, was asked to comment on the findings of this study at the 1995 National Conference on Marijuana Use, Prevention, Treatment and Research, he pointed out that no followup study has ever been conducted by the government into this issue; one can only assume that this is because the study's findings contradict the very foundation of the federal government's prohibitionist rhetoric. When debating the issue of marijuana decriminalization, both proponents and opponents often approach the subject as if its tangible effects on society, including use rates and attitudes, are subject to speculation. Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, there exist sufficient scientific evidence not just from abroad, but from this country's own experiments with marijuana decriminalization, to demonstrate that criminal sanctions against pot could be repealed without incurring any significant negative effects on American society. The chief hurdle that remains now is getting this information disseminated to as large an audience as possible, and not letting our government conveniently "forget" the critical findings of "Occasional Paper 13." To obtain a copy of the summary findings of the Impact On Youth study, call NORML at (202) 483-5500, or write to 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20036, or access the NORML Homepage at ----------------------------------------------------------------- In addition, no less an authority than 'The British Medical Journal,' in an editorial titled, "Prohibition isn't working - some legalisation will help," asserts the same principles of human behavior are valid around the world: "the 1976 changes in the Netherlands seem to have been followed by a fall in use of cannabis: from 13% of those aged 17-18 in 1976 to 6% in 1985. Monthly prevalence of cannabis use among Dutch high school students is around 5.4% compared with 29% in the United States. Forbidden fruit may, indeed, be sweetest." (Volume 311, 23-30, December 1995, posted at ----------------------------------------------------------------- "Weeding Through the Hype: The Truth About Adolescent Marijuana Use" from 'Ongoing Briefing,' a monthly publication of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), June 1996, pp. 1-2 & 4. According to federal politicians, drug prohibitionists, and the majority of the national news media, adolescent marijuana use is dramatically on the increase and soaring toward epidemic proportions. This claim has been made so frequently within the past year that one may remain unaware there exists any serious debate on the issue. However, if one takes a closer look at the raw data, it becomes evident that there is little tangible evidence behind the current headlines. Consequently, it appears that this latest round of "reefer madness" is nothing more than a ploy to encourage legislators to stiffen penalties against adult users. Claim #1: Marijuana use among teens has doubled since 1992. [1] There are several problems with this statement, the most obvious being that it is both misleading and inaccurate. The standard yardstick of adolescent marijuana use rates for more than 20 years has been the Monitoring the Future Report conducted at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Each year, this study tracks the lifetime prevalence of marijuana use among high-school seniors. According to the study, in 1995, 42 percent of all high school seniors had at one time in their lives experimented with marijuana. Admittedly, this figure is an increase over the 32.6 percent who reported having tried marijuana in 1992 - the lowest year of reported lifetime use in the study's history - but it is hardly a doubling. In fact, current use rates are less than two percent higher than they were as recently as 1990 when prevalence stood at 40.7 percent. [2] Additional problems regarding this assertion come from the inherent limitations of self-reporting. Federal statistics regarding adolescent marijuana use are based upon teenagers' willingness to honestly self-report their use of an illicit substance. Therefore, one must take into account the fact that some teens may choose to either under-report or over-report their cannabis use depending on the social stigma or acceptance attached to marijuana at that time. For example, whereas an adolescent taking the survey in 1979 may have chosen to exaggerate his use of marijuana because of the societal notion that marijuana was "cool" and/or "hip," one taking the survey in 1985 may have under-reported his use because of the predominantly anti-marijuana social sentiment that existed at that time. In addition, while most researchers admit that the results of self-reporting polls monitoring any activity should not be accepted at face value, polls that measure an individual's illicit drug consumption have been specifically criticized by the G.A.O. for their "questionable" accuracy. [3] "Our national drug strategies are based on unsubstantiated and insufficient information," charged Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) after reviewing a 1993 G.A.O. report. "It is impossible to determine [from these surveys] whether ... high school student drug use has been decreasing, increasing, or remaining stable." [4] Claim #2: "Today, our children are smoking more dope ... than at any time in recent memory." [5] Apparently, drug prohibitionists don't possess very long memories. Data from both the Monitoring the Future and the National Household Survey indicate that current rates of adolescent marijuana use, both regular and lifetime, are well below what they were just a few years ago. According to the Monitoring the Future Study, lifetime prevalence of marijuana use among high-school seniors peaked in 1979 at 60 percent, a figure that stands almost one-third higher than today's percentages. [6] During this year, the percentage of youths aged 12-17 who reported regularly using marijuana (defined as once within the past month) to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse also peaked, measuring 16.8 percent. [7] Put in historical perspective, this figure is more than twice as high as today's reportedly "epidemic" 7.3 percent usage rate. Moreover, today's figure is only slightly higher than the percentage of adolescents who regularly consumed marijuana in 1988 (6.4 percent), a date prohibitionists laud as being at the height of the drug war and "just say no" campaign. [8] Claim #3: Users are starting younger. [9] It is true that reports from the Monitoring the Future study have indicated that marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders has been rising since 1992. However, this should come as little surprise because the study only began surveying 8th and 10th graders one year earlier. Not coincidentally, 1991 and 1992 were the lowest years ever recorded for adolescent marijuana use. [10] Since then, use of marijuana has risen for adolescents of all ages. The truth is, we really don't know whether today's teens are using marijuana at a younger age because Monitoring the Future has no data from the 1970s or 1980s to compare it to. Moreover, to weigh today's figures against percentages of 8th and 10th graders taken in 1992 - the year reported adolescent marijuana use rates stood at their lowest in history - serves little scientific purpose and is highly misleading. Claim #4: "Today's youthful marijuana users ... are tomorrow's cocaine addicts." [11] According to the most recent literature from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the majority of marijuana users do not become dependent or move on to use other illegal drugs. [12] This stands to reason when one realizes that an estimated 70 million Americans have experimented with marijuana at some point in their lives, the majority of whom never went on to use cocaine. [13] Therefore, while it may be true that some cocaine users did first use marijuana as an adolescent, the far more important fact is that the overwhelming number of teen marijuana users never go on to use cocaine or any other illegal narcotic. [14] Claim #5: Adolescent marijuana use poses great harm to society. [15] America survived the 1970s and America will survive the 1990s. While NORML does not suggest that marijuana is totally harmless and certainly does not advocate that anyone - most especially adolescents - consume cannabis, the fact remains that moderate marijuana use is relatively harmless and poses far less cost to society than do the damaging effects of either cigarettes or alcohol. Today, as was the case in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter recommended federal marijuana decriminalization [16], far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by marijuana itself. Adolescent marijuana use should be a legitimate concern for all Americans. However, recently hyped claims about skyrocketing rates of adolescent marijuana use should be examined skeptically and must not be used to justify policies that would harshen penalties against adult users. If anything, recent data showing an increase in marijuana use among adolescents - if accurate - should serve as strong testimony to the failure and ineffectiveness of America's current drug education programs. We may never truly know why adolescent marijuana use rates fluctuate over time or to what extent social stigmas and/or norms attached to cannabis may influence the accuracy of self-reporting. We do know that adolescence is a period filled with experimentation and that recreational marijuana use - for good or bad - is sometimes a part of this experience. Therefore, it is pertinent that young people, as well as all Americans, are informed of the scientific evidence about marijuana so they can make knowledgeable decisions about both their own drug use and the future of American drug policy. As this essay demonstrates, the recent claims of rapidly rising and near-epidemic rates of adolescent marijuana use hold little weight under close examination. Furthermore, when put in historical perspective, today's figures warrant only mild concern. Most importantly, rates of adolescent marijuana use must not be used to intensify the war against adult marijuana consumers. We do not arrest responsible adult alcohol drinkers because we want adolescents to avoid alcohol, and neither can we as a nation justify arresting responsible adult marijuana smokers to protect our underage children from marijuana smoking. It is time to move beyond the current headlines and begin pursuing an enlightened policy that would stop treating adult marijuana consumers as criminals. Footnotes: 1. USA Weekend, February 16-18, 1996. 2. University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future Study. 3. "Validity of Drug Use Surveys Questioned." Washington Post, August 4, 1993. 4. Ibid. 5. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), September 22, 1995. 6. University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future Study. 7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 8. Ibid. 9. USA Weekend, February 16-18, 1996. 10. University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future Study. 11. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), December 20, 1995. 12. National Institute on Drug Abuse pamphlets: "Marijuana: facts for teens; Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know. 13. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drugs, Crime and the Justice System, 1992; "The Myth of Marijuana's Gateway Effect," Dr. John P. Morgan and Dr. Lynn Zimmer as it appeared in NORML's Active Resistance, Spring 1995. 14. Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence. Dr. John P. Morgan and Dr. Lynn Zimmer, 1995. 15. Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), March 6, 1996. 16. "Penalties against a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. The National Commission on Marijuana ... concluded years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations." President James Earl Carter in a presentation to Congress, August 2, 1977. Posted at ----------------------------------------------------------------- On April 25 William A.B. House ( wrote: This is a letter from K. Hill which she is attempting to deliver to Oregon state representatives and senators to protest the hearings where disabled people were not allowed equal access. K. Hill is scheduled to sing a song before the Legislature May 6th and May 7th. I hope all of you will be at the Capital in Salem to protest the unfair hearing process and re-criminalization of cannabis in Oregon. A rally is planned in Salem May 7th. We need all of you to attend dressed as respectfully as possible to present a united front. ---------------- Please don't break the law while you make the law! Dear senators and representatives, Senate Bill 636 and House Bill 3643 have not had an accessible public hearing. This is a matter of public record: On April 7, 1997, and April 10, 1997, disabled people were denied access to give oral testimony. In addition, on April 7, 1997 Rep. Minnis cursed the Constitution by stating, "That darned Constitution!" Previously, he took an oath to defend the Constitution. Please refer HB 3643 and SB 636 back to committee for an accessible public hearing. We cannot count on Rep. Minnis to respect the law or the Constitution. Can we count on you? Regardless of your political party, access is a bipartisan issue and everyone must respect the federal mandate signed by George Bush, The American With Disabilities Act. Ask this question, "If HB 3643 and SB 636 did have a public hearing with equal access for oral testimony, then why is it that the only testimony not part of the public record is that of disabled people?" Regardless of the chairman's privilege to call for whatever testimony he chooses, it is discourteous and offensive, and we contend it is illegal, to dismiss a disabled person who cannot write and instruct them to give written testimony. In this case, at least six disabled people are known to have received this treatment. Several of them returned to Salem a second time and attempted to give oral testimony but were denied access again. Furthermore, it is discriminatory to assume that all disabled people would give the same testimony or share the same political orientation. Repeated comments from Rep. Minnis and his office staff indicate that they assumed the testimony of all the disabled people would be identical, and that is discriminatory. Please don't break the law while you make the law. Insist on accessible public hearings at all times. The fact that HB 3643 and SB 636 did not have an accessible public hearing is obvious. Look at the public record on April 7, 1997. I call on every representative and every senator to do the right thing. Respect the law, respect our rights, and support an accessible public hearing on HB 3643 and SB 636. Please act quickly because some of the people who've been denied access are terminally ill. Many of the disabled people in your community became disabled while serving this country. Please defend the rights of those who defend this country. Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act is specific in its requirement for equal access to government. Equal access means same time, same place, same people, and same services. An accessible public hearing will only take 2 hours. When HB 3643 comes to the floor without an accessible public hearing, the regardless of your political view of the bill, please vote no on the bill. It should not unlawfully be on the floor for a vote. Please don't break the law while you make the law. K. Hill Testimony Testimony to House Bill 3643 and Senate Bill 636 Rep. Minnis made the comment that these disabled people could come back and testify on George Eighmey's bill. He was assuming that all the disabled people wanted to say the same things. That is discriminatory because the politics of the disabled colonel are very different than the man in a wheelchair with a ponytail. Or are they different? We don't know what they had to say because in spite of the fact that most of the disabled people were early and first on the sign in sheet none were heard at the "public" hearing from 1 pm to 3 pm on April 7, 1997. Many people in wheelchairs cannot stay in their chairs for seven hours waiting for a dinner break and then an evening work session. When they returned to an afternoon work session they still were not given access by Chairman Minnis even though he gave access to the able-bodied people at the Monday evening work session. He had been advised of the ADA mandate by a Supreme Court justice and by his colleague. Rep. Minnis has no respect for the Constitution or he would not have cursed it on the public record. SB 636 and HB 3643 are unconstitutional for several reasons. 1) The Oregon Constitution says you cannot pass a law that is unconstitutional. (Chapter 10; Sec. 1) 2) If the definition of person in this legislation is taken to mean a flesh and blood human being then this legislation is unconstitutional. (I am not going to go into the Constitutional issues of denying terminal patients their choice of medication or disabled people relief from spasms to be mobile.) 3) Because this bill uses a definition of person in the original law that excludes the individual of flesh and blood. 4) This means that the only legal application of this legislation would be to corporations and legal entities. This means that it will impact Oregon's industries and corporations. This will impact jobs. Therefore not only would this bill send a message to youth that could be sent with existing law but also this bill sends a message to industry and creates a hostile environment for beneficial research and development. I can document the industrial applications of cannabis. (Please see documentation) By the way - Rep. Minnis, the officers who testified, and the youth present had not been educated on the existing law. They advocated the suspension of drivers licenses as being an effective deterrent yet this is already the law. HB 3643 and SB 636 call for suspension on the second offense when existing law already calls for drivers license suspension on the first offense of possession of a controlled substance. There were 3,300 adult suspensions in 1996 and 1,700 for juveniles. This bill applies to legal entities such as corporations and creates a hostile political climate. I contend it will impact Oregon jobs in the timber and building products industries as well as the paper products industries. My British husband and I have been living in England for three years with our son. We have used many products from all over the world. (Please see the attached information on world-wide use.) HB 3643 and SB 636 will disable Oregon industries. They will be as helpless in the global marketplace as the people feel who cannot give you written testimony and who have not been heard. In the building-product industry, industrial hemp lowers the cost of many building products at the same time it makes them more earthquake resistant. Isn't Oregon on California's door step? France is manufacturing these products as well as other countries worldwide. Higher quality and lower cost paper is being manufactured as well. How do you expect Oregon to compete in the worldwide market place with such broad legislation as HB 3643 and SB 636? Use the existing laws to send messages to youth. Protect Oregon's economy. Respect the law. Have accessible public hearings. It won't take any longer to do it right and you have the clerical staff to make it happen. Senators: Make certain that SB 636 gets accessible public hearings chaired by Senator Stull. Representatives: Respectfully send HB 3643 back to committee for an accessible public hearing. Then take a careful look at the testimony before you hear debate on the floor of Oregon's House of Representatives or the Senate floor. You took an oath of office, senators and representatives. Please respect the Constitution and the federal ADA mandate. K. Hill -------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Freedom ( just posted this staff editorial from the Salem 'Statesman Journal' opposing recrim: "Tougher marijuana penalties won't curb substance abuse" "Jailing more offenders will waste criminal justice resources." 'The Statesman Journal,' April 26, 1997 Reinstating criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana in Oregon might make us feel better. We might be able to convince ourselves that we were cracking down on criminals and sending a strong anti-drug message. However, we don't have the police, prosecutors, prison space and probation resources to combat major crime now. By burdening them with more small time offenders, we will be diverting law enforcement from effectively targeting drug suppliers, violent criminals and other high-priority offenders. That's not to say society should ignore substance abuse, especially among young people. Oregon can and should increase drug education and prevention efforts. Parents need to counsel their children about the hazards of substance abuse. Churches, schools, youth groups and other community organizations also must help. But increasing penalties for simple possession of marijuana is the wrong way to end the stranglehold of drugs. Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is a civil infraction, punishable with at least a $500 fine. A bill before the Legislature would make possession of small amounts punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Some lawmakers, law enforcement officials and drug counselors say tougher penalties are appropriate because marijuana is a "gateway" drug to stronger illegal substances, especially among teen-agers. That's a valid point. [No it's not, because it's not true. - ed.] The state office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs has reported that substance abuse by Oregon's teen-agers has increased since 1990. Marijuana use has tripled among eighth-graders and more than doubled among 11th-graders. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported that drug use among 12-17-year-olds has doubled since 1992. Some would argue that those statistics make the case for tougher drug laws. Increasing penalties for adult, they say, would trickle down and scare juveniles into giving up marijuana. Oregon, in recent years, has put more and more attention on stopping violent crime through longer sentences. There is some evidence those efforts have succeeded. However, research consistently has shown that prevention and drug treatment are more effective than get-tough laws in ending the cycle of substance abuse. It has been estimated that enforcing the nation's drug laws every year costs more than $30 billion and incarcerates more than 350,000 people. Unfortunately, there's been little change in the availability or use of narcotics. In 1973, Oregon decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Twenty-four years later, can the state really afford to prosecute and incarcerate hundreds - perhaps thousands - more drug offenders? We don't think so. Most likely, other criminal offenders will slip through the cracks. And still, the drug problem will persist. We need to reduce substance abuse, but the best way to do that is through education and treatment. Increasing penalties for minor possession is not the answer. -------------------------------------------------------------- Go get 'em, friends. It's up to you. It's important to spread Paul Armentano's article around as widely as possible. We should have attacked and debunked the "slippery slope" myth earlier, I think. Please pass this along to as many friends as you can, and edit it for all the appropriate Usenet groups and other forums you can think of. Let's burn up those telephone lines. Thanks, Phil Smith
[edited:] From: Date: Sat, 26 Apr 1997 To: Subject: documentation [In response to a request for info debunking the recrim-has-led-to-increased-usage myth] Dear Phil, ....The best study is "Marijuana Decriminalization: The Impact on Youth, 1975-1980," "Monitoring the Future Occasional Paper 13," Lloyd Johnston, Patric O'Malley, Jerald Bachman; Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, 1981. Excellent summary is on pp. 27-29, including the quote: "decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people." THIS IS THE *ONLY* STUDY THAT EVER COMPARED RATES IN DECRIM VS NON-DECRIM STATES -- I ASKED THE RESEARCHER LLOYD JOHNSTON AT THE NAT. INST. ON DRUG ABUSE MARIJUANA CONFERENCE IN 1995. *** THESE RESEARCHERS ARE THE ONES WHO CONDUCT THE FEDERAL GOV'T'S NATIONAL SURVEY "MONITORING THE FUTURE STUDY" EVERY YEAR, SO IT IS ULTRA CREDIBLE. As they are addicted to federal research money, they downplay the significance of the results. At the NIDA conference, Johnston actually said that marijuana was "de facto" decriminalized everywhere in the U.S. at the time the study was done. I told him that's untrue, as there were nearly 500,000 annual arrests across the U.S. at the time. I asked once again (near quote), "Is it true that this is the only study that ever compared decrim & non-decrim states, and that it found that there is no difference in usage rates among young people?" He said, "yes." If anyone throws out the Alaska study or anything, be sure to explain that the authors of the study, in the study itself, explain that it's not a controlled comparison for several reasons (which I don't remember off the top of my head). Sincerely, Chuck Thomas Director of Communications Marijuana Policy Project Washington, D.C. 202-462-5747
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 From: Phil Smith Subject: HB 3643 / SB 636 update / action request Dear activist, Ensuing is a collection of e-mail about what's going on with the recrim battle in the Oregon Legislature. I've edited it a little for clarity and brevity, so I hope you'll be able to read through it easily and respond readily. In particular, please note the request to respond to Rep. Minnis. If you have not yet contacted your state representative and senator, please please please do so as soon as possible. The toll-free number to the capitol is included below. Phil Smith Assistant Director Portland NORML ----------------------------------------------------------------- On April 18 Sandee Burbank ( of Mothers Against Misuse And Abuse (MAMA) wrote: I am told that today the Oregon House Judiciary Committee passed on to the house a bill to recrim marijuana with 4 NO votes and two minority reports that make possession of any amount of marijuana a misdemeanor. It would allow loss of your driver's license for up to six months or require completion of a diversion program. This will happen even though the possession is not related to driving, as is the law for youngsters now. The minority reports suggest that 1) possession of less then a 1/2 ounce would remain a violation 2) possession of less then 1/2 ounce would remain a violation and that a medical necessity defense be allowed. I don't know how it is going to turn out, but my guess is that it will pass on the floor, unless we can create a big stink. This happened without allowing people from the opposing side hardly any opportunity to testify. The Governor has already said that we can't afford such a law and we hope that means he'll veto it. I think the Republicans will push him to do it, to make him look like the bad guy. We'll see what impact we can have as mothers. I am in the process of quietly coordinating a press conference of mothers and their families on the front steps of the Oregon State Capitol for May 7th. We are gathering to show legislators our support to deal with the bureaucracy and get our family members access to medicinal marijuana. In their hearts they know it is right and none have told us they want our family members to suffer, if marijuana can help them. One idea is to give the legislators packaged brownies or cookies from the bakery with a sticker noting that this is a way patients can find relief if the law is changed. I'm hoping for copies of one of the new books about marijuana by then. I will be sending out press releases in advance to the media and contacting some of them personally. We're hoping for a good turnout and it will be a great time to say hi to old friends. I expect that the phone bills, travel expense and mailings will cost around $100. If I add coffee, we get into some real expense. Joke! What do you think? Can you join us or do you know someone who can? Can you help us? It is time for us to speak up so we don't go backwards. Hope you'll join me. Sandee ----------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Stanford ( of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act also wrote on the same day: The [recrim] bill passed the House judiciary committee this morning. They met on the recrim, HB 3643, at 7:30 AM in a work session where it passed on to the full House with a do pass recommendation. Interestingly, Rep. Minnis, who chairs the judiciary committee, promised that he would let the medicinal cannabis bill, Rep. Eighmey's HB 2900, get a hearing in judiciary in an encouraging twist of events at a work session last week to stop debate on further criminalizing patients with a medicinal need for cannabis. Unfortunately, Minnis has taken the move on a gay rights, anti-discrimination bill that was yanked from him by a fellow Republican who is gay, Rep. Carpenter, a move which brought the whole House to grinding halt for 2 days, as an excuse to table all further Democratic bills, including medical cannabis, HB 2900. So Minnis lied about giving Eighmey's bill a hearing to stop debate on the recrim, HB 3643, and the recrim will put patients in jail for minor amounts of medicine. HB 3643 has not been through much process in the Senate yet. In the Senate we should have an opportunity for the public to testify again, from which many patients were thwarted in their effort to testify a few weeks ago. HB 3643 now goes to the House where it appears likely to pass. So recrim cleared another hurdle in Oregon's legislature and appears to be on the way to passing both chambers. All opinion polls show this is against the will of the people, but the Republicans, who bought control of the legislature through manipulation of absentee ballot procedures by mailing pre-marked, postage-paid absentee ballots to every registered Republican in the state, seem set upon enacting their cultural agenda over the objections of anyone and everyone. We have our work cut out for us. D. Paul Stanford ----------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Freedom ( also wrote that evening: This just came across KATU Channel 2 News in Portland, Oregon. Rep. John Minnis who is a police officer and a state legislator, claims he's received threatening calls, e-mail, faxes, etc. He is the chief sponsor of the bill to recriminalize cannabis in Oregon. The example they gave was not much of a threat. It was more of an angry call questioning why an imbecile would want to build new prisons for pot smokers. I don't have Rep. John Minnis' e-mail, phone and fax. Can someone post it so we can exercise our right to tell him where to stick it? He thinks because he's a cop he can intimidate people. I believe most cops would rather do police work and don't support this pea brain. Remember we were the first to decriminalize. If we lose here who's next? Are we going to let a cop/politician tell us what the people want? Let's bombard Rep. Minnis with correspondence. Not threatening, but hammer him assertively. Victory, Paul Freedom ----------------------------------------------------------------- Phil Smith here again. I saw the KATU report on television, too, though I didn't have the VCR running. I suggest we fill Minnis' office with the kindest barrage of protests the legislature has ever seen. I'd bet my lunch nobody from our side threatened the esteemed delegate from Wood Village. Let's politely intimate that he should post the complete text of the "threat" or apologize. Otherwise the most reasonable inference might be that this is "Krystalnacht" type propaganda of the worst and most self-serving sort. In any case, remember our primary concerns are 1) recrim and 2) a fair and open process. Please phone, fax and/or snail-mail a protest to: The Honorable John Minnis H374 State Capitol Salem, OR 97310 Tel. (503) 986-1420 House third floor fax: (503) 986-1130 Message line (when in session): (800) 332-2313 I think faxing Minnis information from our web pages would help. This will be most effective if Minnis gets more mail now than he ever did before. Please go all out and rope your friends into this one. But be super nice, OK? ----------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Stanford added this information after his first message: Minnis does not have a listed e-mail address. His default in Salem would be His office phone is (503) 986-1420. His office assistants are his wife Karen and Diane Holm. He is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, through which he manipulated to pass the recriminalization of 28 grams or less of cannabis, and he is a Portland Police detective sergeant. He lives in the Portland suburb of Wood Village. He is smart and on a moral crusade. He attended the Portland Bible College and Portland State University, but has not graduated. He is 43. This is his sixth term, he has been in the House since 1985, and this is his last term in the House under the term limits bill which passed a few year ago. I have a great quote from him on video in a hearing immediately after he had scuttled the testimony of many sick and dying people who came to testify, at their great personal burden. He thwarted the patients testimony and allowed police and paid drug prevention specialists to squander all the time while these patients were shut out. He says at a hearing later that night, in response to a complaint from another representative, "darn that constitution." If he ever runs for any office again we should use that quote against him. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Then Sandee Burbank posted another update: I have been contacting people and inviting them to join me on the steps of the Capitol, in Salem, on May 7th at 11 AM to show their support for medicinal assess to cannabis. We will have a press conference and pass out copies of Judge Young's findings to the legislators. We want to keep this focused on the positive. We are there to show support for the legislators to deal with this issue. Friendly, compassionate, not angry and threatening. The press conference is designed to get more coverage for our side of the issue. Of course, when the issue of recrim come up (you can count on that it will) we can point out that those most impacted by recrim would be those medicinal users. We can also ask where the money would come from to enforce such a law...aid to the schools, the elderly, families and children, where? How will they handle the patients in jail? We ask everyone to look their best, and if possible, to leave the tie-dye at home. (Let me be clear that I have absolutely nothing against tie-dye clothes, possessing some myself.) We are, though, trying to create a media image, and if everyone could look their best, it would be appreciated. We are trying to get t-shirts made that will be available at a very reasonable fee. We need to make placards and a group in Portland will be doing that. If anyone would like to help just give me a call. In view of the attempt to recrim, I just couldn't sit on my butt and do nothing. At the hearing they were able to divide us and keep us from speaking. Recrim will hurt those who need medicinal access the most. For recreational users it is an inconvenience, but for medicinal users, it can be the difference between life and death, or at least a lessening of the quality of life. I have contacted many people, but I need your help to get a good turn out. In addition to the press conference, I am encouraging people to talk or write to their own legislators and to call the Governor. If the legislators say they can't change the state law because of the federal law, then they can send a Resolution to the Feds telling them to schedule marijuana so there is medicinal access. I hesitate to say Schedule II because I don't believe it belongs there, but Schedule II is better than Schedule I. Can you help? How? Thanks to all of you who have already contacted me. Please note that I am doing this as an individual, not as MAMA. I can be reached at 541-298-1031. Sandee Burbank A friend wrote: > Sandee: > > Ugh! I'm sorry to hear about the developments in the Oregon House. Keep > pelting them with the facts, they will see reason eventually. It sounds > like your best bet is to emphasize the costs associated with > implementing such a law, ask where the money is coming from to support > it and identify programs that are currently being or have recently been > cut and infer what other programs might be cut in order to get the > revenue to run this new program (whether directly or indirectly). Then > alliances can be built with those groups that don't want their programs > cut or groups that are already experiencing cuts. What programs are or > may be cut and what programs have constituents with political clout? > Education? Elderly? That way if it gets through the House (though I > wouldn't give up there yet, get constituents calling/writing their > members and complaining about the proposed law), hopefully you can give > the Governor cover (he's protecting the state for exorbitant > expenditure) and put enough pressure on him to veto it, if he is already > feeling pressed for cash. Good luck and keep plugging away! Can anybody help me out here. Does anyone have a handle on how much this recrim bill would cost or what other programs might be affected. Can we make some assumptions here? Opinions welcome! Sandee ----------------------------------------------------------------- TD Miller (, director of Portland NORML, responded on April 19: Sandee, In testimony, the figure given by the state is a cost of $1-1.5 million. At the last public hearing on recrim in 1994, testimony was given that Oregon has 1900 people per year getting "tickets" that would change if the bill passes and becomes law. I think any of us can do the math that would project the costs significantly higher than $1-1.5 million. The worst thing about the bill is it gives the right to search to the police that heretofore was not legal. Minnis makes that point in today's Oregonian. Everything we can do to stop this bill needs to be done. TD ----------------------------------------------------------------- Floyd Ferris Landrath of the American Anti-Prohibition League ( added that reformers should also begin phoning, faxing and snail-mailing letters requesting vetoes of any recrim bill to: Governor John Kitzhaber, who will probably run for re-election in November 1998. ... Of course veto means being called "soft" on drugs, his main fear. Our job will be to show him it won't hurt him at the polls. Flood his office with letters, phone calls, and faxes. (Sorry, no e-mail contact that we could find.) Less than 2 months remain in the regular session so we must start now to make this happen in time. ... Remind him of his words on October 13, 1995 in an address to Associated Oregon Industries (AOI): "I am not willing to let our corrections cost in this state rise unabated, stealing dollars from schools and roads and putting them into prisons." Our message needs to be simple and clear, consistent with the governor's stated position on crime and corrections, to wit: "To advocate a stepped-up version of our current approach -- build more and more prisons and lock up more and more people -- is, ironically, a wanton disregard for the safety of Oregonians." "And, as I mentioned, the majority of this population gets into the state system not for a new offense, but for a technical violation of parole/probation." -- Prison Reform Press Release - January 11, 1996. Remember to keep it simple and remember what we want: 1) VETO CANNABIS RECRIM. 2) REJECT ADDITIONAL SPENDING ON LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONS. ... First send your message to Kitzhaber, then call your friends and co-workers to do likewise. Remember keep it short and simple, help us track the messages and keep your fingers crossed that the numbers will be sufficient to sway the governor. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gov. John A. Kitzhaber MD State Capitol Salem OR 97310 Office: 503-378-4582 503-378-3111 800-332-2313 Fax: 503-378-4863 2nd Fax: 503-378-3139 E-mail: none that we could find. Home Page: (does not support public comment) SAMPLE LETTER/FAX/PHONE SCRIPT: Dear Governor Kitzhaber, Like you, I'm dismayed by the failure of our criminal justice system to keep repeat, violent offenders off our streets. I also agree with you that punishment without prevention is counter-productive and ensures more crime victims and ruined lives. Oregon can no longer afford to spend more on prisons than higher education. Our future peace and prosperity look bleak if our universities remain, as you pointed out last year, "dead last in the country in terms of per capita support." We must get our priorities straight, before it's too late. That's why I urge you to veto cannabis re-criminalization. This un-Constitutional legislation is driven by law enforcement and corrections special interests who appear to have little, if any, regard for truth or fairness. They are the only ones who would gain from this irresponsible law. Everyone else would lose because there would be less to "invest" in important programs such as crime prevention, education, the environment, etc. Your veto will prove to me you are a man of your word and give me incentive to support your re-election. Sincerely yours, (Your name and address, preferably where you are registered to vote. Include a phone number but don't expect a response.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- William A.B. House ( wrote: Subject: Kay Hill at the Capital Tuesday Capital Steps Protest of Re-Crim and Denial of American with Disabilities Rights to Testify at the re-crim hearing. Kay Hill, the medical cannabis patient whose testimony before the Judiciary Committee I witnessed cut-off by Rep. John Minnis, who promised her another chance to finish her testimony later in the day - AND NEVER GAVE HER THAT CHANCE - plans to have a microphone set up on the steps of the Capitol in Salem Tuesday (tomorrow, April 22) to protest Rep. Minnis' denial to medical cannabis patients the right to testify guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act; and in protest of re-criminalization of an ounce or less of cannabis in Oregon. She needs all the support she can get, as she is doing her part! She also wrote a beautiful protest song, which she sang Sunday, 4/20, and plans to sing to the Legislature of Oregon (when she gets the call). At the Eugene 4:20 event Sunday, She called for everyone to camp out on the steps of the capital, as the Senate may vote on re-crim within 3 days (she said). Any one interested in going to Salem or for more information on this should reply to me, Bruce House (, Secretary of the Cannabis Liberation Society, in Eugene. Or Call the Cannabis Liberation Societies' Event Hot-Line and Voice Mail and leave a message and I'll get back with you: (541) 744-5744 [House then corrected himself:] In my last message re: Kay Hill at the Capital Tuesday, I called her a medical cannabis patient - I wish to retract that statement. She is a disabled person whose testimony was cut short at the Judiciary Hearing April 7th. She has informed me that she actually intended to speak on the industrial aspect of hemp and how it will benefit Oregon... but part of my misunderstanding was due to the fact the rest of her testimony WASN'T HEARD AS PROMISED by the Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Minnis. It was truly just my assumption that she was a medical cannabis user, because she identified herself as a disabled person. My sincere apologies to Kay, who does not have Internet access right now. She intended to address the fact that those who wished to testify were disabled people, not necessarily medical cannabis users, from all walks of life including Veterans of Foreign Wars, who were denied the right to testify before the hearing according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which grants disabled people preference to testify. Instead of following the law (it is the law whether you agree with it or not and one might expect the Judiciary Committee to at least follow the law), the Americans with Disabilities Act, Judiciary Chairman Minnis gave testimony preference to Law Enforcement Personnel, who make their living off the taxpayers, and drug-counseling businesses who seek to have the government send them more clients by force. The Judiciary Chairman, Rep. John Minnis, is an insult to justice. He allowed those seeking tax dollars and prisons to testify, but denied people in wheelchairs their lawful right. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Finally, House posted a last-minute update: It's official, I just talked with Kay. Kay and I will be at the steps of the Capitol building in Salem tomorrow, Tuesday, at noon to speak out against the violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act which the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Minnis (Republican), violated. A miscarriage of justice occurred in Salem April 7th, and I will be there Tuesday at noon with Kay to protest, even if it is one last gasp! Dan Koozer, President of the Cannabis Liberation Society, has confirmed he will come to Salem with us and possibly bring another person - thank you Dan! Come One, Come All, Noon Tuesday. Protest the proposed increase of Violence against Non-Violent Cannabis Users! Protest Re-Criminalization in Oregon! ----------------------------------------------------------------- That's all for now. I'll try to keep you updated as developments occur. Phil Smith


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