UPce 04/23/93 1930 Pot activists push agriculture, medical uses of plant By KEN GOZE SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UPI) -- Elvy Musikka gets by with the occasional puff of marijuana -- courtesy the U.S. government. The Florida woman, diagnosed with severe glaucoma, uses marijuana to relieve pressure on her eyes to preserve what sight she has left. Musikka said she and 10 other people nationwide receive government- grown marijuana under an experimental program. However, no more applictions to the program have been accepted and thousands of other Americans who might benefit from the illegal weed out of luck because of the Drug War-mentality of the 1980s, she said. On Friday, Musikka and more than 100 local and out-of-state marijuana activists converged on the Capitol in central Illinois to urge lawmakers to reconsider laws that make cannabis illegal, and educate people about medical, and agricultural uses of the plant. Rallies also were held on college campuses in Normal and Champaign. "At one time the hemp plant provided all of our paper," said Ben Masell, director of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization For the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The hemp plant, from which marijuana is derived, is the source of one of the most durable natural fibers and was widely used for sails and rope as late as the 1940s, he said. Masell said most books were printed on hemp paper before the 1870s and Abraham Lincoln likely used hempseed oil in lamps. Masell said hemp grows much faster than cotton or paper-stock trees, and hefted a heavy staff he said was made from a stalk of a wild marijuana plant. Eric Sterling, director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Washington, said "get-tough" state and federal drug laws passed since the 1980s have led to severe prison overcrowding and squandered billions of dollars withouht getting at the heart of the drug problem. In the past 20 years, 4 million Americans have been arrested under marijuana laws," Sterling said. "Are we safer? Do we have less of a drug problem?" Sterling said "zero-tolerance" policies have not addressed the problem of "hard-drug" abuse and the underlying problems of inner city poverty and despair. Musikka, who was first diagnosed with glaucoma in 1976, said she first tried marijuana on the advice of a doctor after conventional medicines and surgeries failed to alleviate her condition. Musikka said a series of operations and more than 20 eye injections left her blind in one eye. But she said marijuana has stabilized her condition. Musikka said she was "terrified" at first about using marijuana, but has learned to live with it -- and hasn't suffered memory loss or other problems. She said marijuana also is useful for treating AIDS and cancer patients because it eases nausea and produces the "munchies" allowing severely ill patients to eat. Although Musikka continues to recieve government-issued marijuana, federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing the drug. The rally, organized by the Sangamon State University NORML chapter in Springfield, began at the Old State Capital Plaza and finished at the Statehouse with speeches. UPse 04/23/93 1213 Customs seizes marijuana, mothership FORT PIERCE, Fla. (UPI) -- Customs agents have seized 6,000 pounds of Jamaican marijuana aboard two smugglers' vessels and arrested five people, it was announced Friday. Arthur Stiffel, deputy special agent in charge of the Customs Fort Pierce office, said agents boarded a 55-foot vessel, the Bogna, and an offload boat 60 miles off the Florida coast Wednesday night. They arrested Piotr Czerski, 49, of Miami and Daniel Norris, 56, of Grant, Fla., aboard the mothership. Arrested at their homes Thursday were Renee Morris, 37, of Fort Pierce; Alexander Tyson, 52, of Fort Pierce; and Adam Dolinski, 52, of West Palm Beach, Stiffel said. The arrests and seizures were the result of an eight-month investigation conducted by agents in Fort Pierce. The case began in September 1992 when Customs agents began an investigation into an organization thought to be smuggling marijuana from Jamaica to Fort Pierce. The investigation resulted in a plan for the smugglers to bring the marijuana laden mothership, a 55-foot, twin-masted motor sailing vessel, to meet with the offload boat. The Bogna was to be carrying several tons of marijuana it had picked up in Jamaica, Stiffel said. He said agents expect to make additional arrests and seize more vessels and vehicles in the case. UPce 04/29/93 0908 Lawyers oppose drug tax in rare hearing BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (UPI) -- Attorneys representing defendants in 37 drug possession cases argued in a rare court hearing before six Monroe County judges that the new state drug excise tax is unconstitutional The attorneys said the law is unconstitutional because it violates an individual's right against self-incrimination and constitutes double jeopardy. Monroe County deputy prosecutor Larry Brodeur, who represented the state, said the law passed by the Indiana General Assembly last year is "clothed in constitutionality." "Even though three trial courts have found the law unconstitutional, we feel the courts were swayed by reasoning that the law is a bad law, not because it is unconstitutional," Brodeur argued. Earlier this month, a Cass County judge said the law violated a Logansport man's Fifth Amendment rights against double jeopardy. Since the Cass County ruling, judges in Greene and Marion counties have followed suit, ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The law requires individuals to pay taxes on illegal drugs in their possession. It has been enforced almost without exception after an individual is arrested and charged with drug possession. Another problem with the law, argued Indiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers representative Andrew Maternowski, is that it unfairly assesses marijuana and cocaine at the same tax rate even though the drugs have a much different street value. For instance, the street value of a gram of marijuana is about $7, while a gram of cocaine is worth about $100, he said. Brodeur countered the arguments that the law forces self- incrimination, saying that since a person could pay the tax at any time, he or she could opt to do so when not in possession of drugs. He also said the tax statute provides for a civil, not criminal, penalty. There can't be double jeopardy until there is an initial jeopardy, he said, and there is no jeopardy involved with a civil penalty. It is unknown whether the judges will rule jointly or separately on the individual cases. No ruling is expected earlier than Monday. Regardless of their finding, the county cases will have no immediate statewide implications until the law is tested in the Indiana Court of Appeals. UPce 04/30/93 1816 Masel says Weedstock will go on MADISON, Wis. (UPI) -- The organizer of an annual festival celebrating marijuana says Weedstock '93 will go on despite Dane County officials' assertions that the gathering will be illegal because the Town of Vermont farm chosen for the Memorial Day weekend celebration is zoned for agricultural use only. "The constitutional guarantee of the right to gather takes precedence over zoning ordinances," said Ben Masel, state director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws-Wisconsin. NORML is a non-profit organization that advocates legalization of marijuana. Masel said it is illegal to target an organization because of its political views. He noted that no one balked when the Clinton campaign held rallies on farms when the candidates toured the state last year. The farm NORML plans to use for its 4-day festival of political speeches, music and partying is located in the Town of Vermont across from the Tyrol Basin ski area. The site is zoned for agriculture only. County officials say it must be re-zoned for commercial use for the festival to take place, and that would take at least a month. They also say festival-goers cannot camp on the farm because it is not a licensed campground. A county ordinance requires a permit for any gathering of 5,000 people or more. Fliers promoting the event state that attendance will be limited to 4,999. Last year's Weedstock held near Elroy drew about 5,000 people. There were 117 arrests, some on drug charges. Juneau County spent about $17, 000 on law enforcement for the event. UPce 04/30/93 1010 Prosecutor's grant of immunity gone to pot CLEAR LAKE, S.D. (UPI) -- An eastern South Dakota prosecutor has proven grants of immunity are not all they're cracked up to be. Bert K. Olson, 37, Astoria, Friday faced drug charges for allegedly growing marijuana at his home. Investigators said they found foot-tall pot plants growing in a box bearing the sign: "Immunity granted by Deuel County State's Attorney" followed by a name that appeared to be Olson's. "There were 30 little planters like the kind you buy tomato plants in only they didn't have tomato plants in them," said Larry Long, deputy attorney general. Olson, the county state's attorney, has been convicted previously of drug possession charges. He has said he thinks it should be legal to sell marijuana in amounts of less than $10. [no headline; circa 04/30/93] BENTON, Ill. (AP) -- The wife of former Indianapolis 500 racer Randy Lanier was sentenced to nine years in prison for helping him launder drug money. "I knew I had done wrong and knew I was going to pay dearly for it," Maria De La Luz Maggi-Lanier said Wednesday as she begged U.S. District Judge James Foreman for leniency. She pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and obstruction. Her husband, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, was convicted in 1988 of helping run an organization that distributed more than 300 tons of marijuana. He is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole. ------ RTw 04/30/93 0108 SYRIA STEPS UP FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS By Sawsan Youness DAMASCUS, April 30, Reuter - Drug traffickers plying the well-worn route from Lebanon to the markets of Western Europe and the Gulf now risk execution if they are caught in Syria. Worried by growing drug use among Syrian youth and trying to lose the country's reputation as a major smuggling transit point, Syrian authorities are arming themselves with a range of tougher punishments to combat the trade. Syria has also launched a joint campaign with neighbouring Lebanon, where huge amounts of heroin, marijuana and hashish are produced, to attack the business at its source. "Despite my belief that this plague has not spread in our country as in other developed states yet, I can say with regret that it is spreading among youngsters either in universities, schools or among some workers," Member of Parliament Mohammed Ali Nasser said. A new law endorsed by parliament in April imposed the death penalty for smugglers and dealers and fines of up to five million Syrian pounds ($100,000), officials said. The previous law, which stipulated a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and 100,000 pounds ($2,500) fine, was criticised as not hard enough. Many accused were able to wangle their way out of long sentences, legal experts said. Interior Minister Mohammad Harba told parliament the problem was not homegrown. "Syria is a country which does not manufacture or plant drugs but it is not distanced from the problem because it is a transit country," Harba said. Lebanon became a hotbed of illegal drug production during 16 years of civil war, which ended two years ago. About 35,000 Syrian troops are still based there, many of them in the Bekaa valley, one of the main production areas. Arab couriers smuggle the drugs by road through Jordan to the Gulf or to Western Europe through Turkey. Lebanon and Syria have now signed a pact to join ranks in fighting illegal drug production. Joint units stormed several narcotics factories drugs and arrested hundreds of drug dealers, producers and smugglers in recent months, officials said. The new laws, however, will only apply to people arrested and convicted after they were promulgated. Lebanese officials say over 16,000 hectares (39,000 acres) of cannabis and about 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of opium poppies were destroyed in 1992 which could have produced 500,000 tonnes of hashish and five tonnes of opium. Syria has also signed separate accords with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Cyprus. The new laws not only tackle trafficking but also addiction. Health Minister Iyad al-Shatti said the number of addicts in Syria was small but Harba described the increased use as a "dangerous phenomena." Special rehabilitation centres will be established to help addicts wanting to quit the habit. To encourage them, the laws will pardon anyone who owns up to their addiction and agrees to go to a rehabilitation centre. REUTER SY AM APn 05/01/93 1324 Juror's Key Copyright, 1993. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. CLEVELAND (AP) -- A juror held the key to freedom for a woman on trial for drug charges. Robin Smith, 30, was freed last week after the juror discovered in her pocket a key matching one used as evidence against Ms. Smith. "I've never had the jury, in a sense, solve the crime with some evidence they had in their pocket," said Burt Griffin, a Common Pleas judge. Police raided Ms. Smith's home in October. They said they found her sister's boyfriend trying to throw a safe out a window -- a safe that contained $7,000, 17 grams of cocaine and 65 grams of marijuana. The boyfriend had a key to the safe in his pocket. Police searched Ms. Smith and found another key that fit the lock. Her lawyer argued that it was a coincidence. When the jury met to deliberate Thursday, a juror whose name was not released looked at her key ring and noticed that one key looked like those that opened the safe. Testing out the coincidence theory, she tried her key in the lock. The safe opened.
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