------------------------------------------------------------------- Jury awards $81 million in Oregon smoking suit (The Associated Press says a jury in Portland, Oregon, ordered Philip Morris to pay a record $81 million to the family of Jesse Williams, who died of lung cancer in 1997 after smoking Marlboros for four decades. No similar verdict against the tobacco industry has survived on appeal.)From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "_Drug Policy --" (email@example.com) Subject: $81 million in OR smoking suit Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 20:03:55 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Posted at 12:55 p.m. PST; Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Jury awards $81 million in Oregon smoking suit by William McCall The Associated Press PORTLAND - A jury today ordered Philip Morris to pay a record $81 million to the family of a man who died of lung cancer after smoking Marlboros for four decades. It was the biggest verdict ever won on behalf of an individual in a smoking-liability case. The court victory by the wife and children of Jesse Williams, who died in 1997, was the second major hit against Philip Morris this year. A San Francisco jury awarded $51.5 million last month to a Marlboro smoker who has inoperable lung cancer. Although no similar verdict against the tobacco industry has survived on appeal, Wall Street analysts were watching the Portland case closely to see if public opinion had turned. The Williams family, who sought $101 million, alleged the company knew its cigarettes could cause cancer. Testimony portrayed Williams, a former janitor with the Portland school system, as a three-pack-day Marlboro smoker who believed the manufacturer wouldn't sell a harmful product and who was heavily addicted to nicotine. Williams died just five months after he was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma of the lungs. He was 67 and left behind a wife, Mayola Williams, and six adult children. The 12-member Circuit Court jury, which included three smokers and four former smokers, spent a little more than two days reviewing a month of technical and often conflicting testimony from experts in such areas as cancer diagnosis, radiology and the chemistry of tobacco smoke. Much of the medical testimony on both sides was aimed at showing that Williams' cancer arose either before or after 1988. If the jury concluded that Williams' cancer was caused by cigarettes smoked before 1988, Philip Morris could not be held liable under Oregon law. That's because Oregon law allows plaintiffs to seek damages going back only eight years before the filing of a product-liability suit. Besides the San Francisco case, U.S. juries have awarded damages in smoking-liability cases only three times - twice in Florida and once in New Jersey. All three verdicts were overturned on appeal. In closing arguments in the Portland case, attorneys for the Williams family cited internal Philip Morris documents to bolster their claim that the company long knew about the cancer-causing potential of cigarettes and chose to hide that information from its customers. Raymond Thomas called the tobacco company "willful, malicious, sneaky" in its efforts to keep smokers hooked. Walter Cofer, an attorney for Philip Morris, said Williams was well aware that smoking could harm his health and had been warned of that by doctors and family members. Cofer dismissed claims that Williams was addicted to nicotine as "psychobabble." The lawyer said Williams could have quit "if he'd wanted to badly enough." Oregon's product-liability laws require a plaintiff to be no more than 50 percent at fault to win damages. In California, a plaintiff can be as much as 99 percent at fault and still win damages. The tobacco industry reached a $206 billion legal settlement with states in November, but cigarette makers still face individual and class-action claims.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prisoner allowed to cultivate while on probation (A San Francisco Bay area list subscriber recounts the case of Greg Richey. Busted for cultivation a year ago in San Bernardino County, California, Richey was sentenced yesterday to 250 days in jail and three years' probation. The court ruled that under Proposition 215, Richey could, while on probation, cultivate, use and possess marijuana - just what he was busted for.) From: "ralph sherrow" (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Prisoner allowed to cultivate while on probation Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 12:15:30 PST Hi boys and girls, Greg Richey was arrested for cultivation about a year ago. He went to court yesterday, march 29th 1999. He appeared in front of Judge Ashworth in the high desert court of San Bernardino county in Victorville California. He was sentenced to three years probation & serve 250 days in jail. He was told by the court that he could, while on probation, cultivate, use & possess marijuana. He is a felon from previous bout with the law, but he is still able to cultivate, use & possess marijuana. Pretty good, huh? The judge stayed the execution of sentence while he appeals the decision. One of the reporters pointed out the fact that he is being allowed to do exactly what he was arrested for. Weird. Ralph *** [. . . but not unprecedented. -- Portland NORML]
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Smoke Clears: Marijuana Can Be Medicinal, But The Smoke Is Not (A staff editorial in the Sacramento Bee infers that the political challenge posed by the March 17 Institute of Medicine report is "how to handle marijuana" in the coming years before a "real," that is, pharmaceutical, alternative to herbal cannabis is on the market. The report doesn't resolve the ongoing legal deadlock. The IOM does, however, provide considerable ammunition for relaxing federal law to allow states, which now regulate the practice of medicine, to decide medicinal uses of marijuana as well.) Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 19:20:05 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: The Smoke Clears: Marijuana Can Be Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Mark Greer Pubdate: Tue, 30 March 1999 Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Sacramento Bee Contact: email@example.com Address: P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852 Feedback: http://www.sacbee.com/about_us/sacbeemail.html Website: http://www.sacbee.com/ Forum: http://www.sacbee.com/voices/voices_forum.html THE SMOKE CLEARS: MARIJUANA CAN BE MEDICINAL, BUT THE SMOKE IS NOT A new report on marijuana by the Institutes of Medicine offers a rational approach to one of the nation's most controversial substances. In the most comprehensive review to date by a panel of distinguished medical experts, the IOM has concluded that certain chemicals inside marijuana known as THC and cannabinoids are, indeed, medicine. The medical challenge now is to isolate all of marijuana's helpful ingredients from the harmful ones in some new form, such as a pill or vapor that is inhaled. The political challenge is how to handle marijuana in the coming years (and they may be many) before a real alternative to the joint is on the market. The IOM's first conclusion undoubtedly will please the marijuana advocates: "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting and appetite stimulation." This caveat, however, will please marijuana's foes: "Smoked marijuana, however, is a crude THC delivery system that also delivers harmful substances." Neither conclusion is shocking nor unexpected. What is important is that it comes from the nation's medical establishment, which for years avoided the marijuana controversy until voters in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington sought to make the drug available for certain medical conditions. The report doesn't resolve the ongoing legal deadlock. Although a growing number of states seek to legalize the drug for certain patients, federal law bans the drug and designates marijuana as one of the nation's most controlled substances. The IOM does, however, provide considerable ammunition for relaxing federal law to allow states, which now regulate the practice of medicine, to decide medicinal uses of marijuana as well. The IOM, for example, found "no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent use of other illicit drugs." Neither did it buy the argument that medicinal use of marijuana would increase its use in the general population. It remains unclear whether the government is willing to fund studies to isolate marijuana's medicinal components. Even if the government did, would a drug company be willing to gamble on investing in a product that might prove less popular than the joint? Under the most optimistic of circumstances, this process will take years. In the meantime, the case becomes more compelling for Congress to let states experiment with various ways to regulate marijuana while researchers work on finding a better, safer and less controversial alternative.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cop Who Planted Drugs Wins Round (The Cincinnati Post says Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman granted a motion Monday to suppress a statement by fired Cincinnati police Sgt. John Sess in which he admitted planting marijuana in 1984 on Shadarle Ragan.) Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 23:33:02 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US OH: Cop Who Planted Drugs Wins Round Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Patrick Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: Cincinnati Post (OH) Contact: email@example.com Website http://www.cincypost.com/ Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 Author: Kimball Perry, Post staff reporter COP WHO PLANTED DRUGS WINS ROUND But prosecutor will appeal ruling A prosecutor said today he will appeal a ruling that could lead to dismissal of charges that fired Cincinnati police Sgt. John Sess planted drugs on a suspect. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman granted a motion Monday to suppress a statement by Sess in which he admitted planting marijuana in 1984 on Shadarle Ragan. That means Special Prosecutor James Beaton, from Warren County, can't use at the trial Sess' statement - or any evidence gathered as a result of that statement. 'My feeling is his ruling effectively kills the case,' Beaton said after Ruehlman ruled. Today, though, Beaton said he would appeal Ruehlman's ruling to a higher court. 'The state would have ultimately found this information out at some later time,' Beaton said. Sess attorney James Perry argued, with supporting testimony from former and current Cincinnati police officers, that Sess only admitted to the specifics about the charges against him after police began an internal, non-criminal case and promised Sess immunity from prosecution. Sess was a 24-year police veteran when he applied for a job with the Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit. As he was about to be given a lie detector test as part of his job application, he was asked if he'd done anything that could embarrass the unit. That's when he said he planted marijuana on Ragan 13 years earlier. When cops read Sess his rights, he demanded a lawyer and refused to talk. Later, after police said they were conducting an internal investigation and granted him immunity, Sess gave them details. But Hamilton County prosecutors, who were later replaced by the special prosecutor, said they - not police - would decide if Sess received immunity. He didn't and they presented evidence against him to a Hamilton County grand jury, which then indicted him on that evidence in 1997.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana May Yield Medicines, Panel Says (The Washington Post conservatively interprets the Institute of Medicine report released March 17.) Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 16:30:46 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: OPED: Marijuana May Yield Medicines, Panel Says Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dick Evans) Pubdate: March 30, 1999 Source: Washington Post (DC) Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Author: Susan Okie MARIJUANA MAY YIELD MEDICINES, PANEL SAYS Marijuana is too dangerous to the lungs to make smoking "grass" a safe long-term treatment for illness--but some of the active ingredients in the weed could sprout into a whole new family of medicines. Those are among the conclusions of a landmark report issued this month by an expert panel on the medical uses of marijuana, a topic that has pitted patients and pro-legalization activists against the federal government. Marijuana's active ingredients belong to a chemical family called the cannabinoids. In recent years, scientists have found that these chemicals--as well as receptors on cell surfaces that respond to them--are found naturally in the brain, where they probably play a role in memory, control of movement and pain perception. Scientific knowledge of cannabinoids has exploded, far outstripping the few well conducted medical studies of marijuana's therapeutic effects in patients, according to the pair of scientists who headed the panel. Together, the new laboratory findings and the clinical results suggest that some cannabinoids could be developed into promising drugs for pain control, the relief of nausea and vomiting and stimulation of appetite in people who have lost weight because of AIDS or other diseases. Some patients currently smoke or eat marijuana to treat those problems, a situation that has produced conflict between states that want to legalize medical use of the drug and the federal government, which has opposed any legalization. "There are real clinical opportunities" to develop new drugs from cannabinoids, said Stanley J. Watson, co-director of the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan and co-chairman of the panel that conducted the review for the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent advisory body. The IOM report had been eagerly awaited by both sides in the ongoing debate over whether marijuana should be made legally available for people with certain intractable symptoms, such as nausea caused by chemotherapy or wasting associated with AIDS. To the delight of many activists who have urged legalization of medical use of the drug, the panel concluded that some of marijuana's constituents are potentially effective therapies. Nevertheless, the report strongly opposes the use of smoked marijuana except in short-term scientific studies lasting less than six months, citing the dangers posed by tar, carcinogens and other substances present in the smoke. "Numerous studies suggest that marijuana smoke is an important risk factor in the development of respiratory disease" and is associated with an increased risk of cancer, lung damage and poor pregnancy outcomes, the report states. It calls for the rapid development of an inhaler that could deliver cannabinoids into the lung--from which they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream--thus allowing patients to obtain the desired effects without smoking. "While we see a future in the development of . . . cannabinoid drugs, we see little future in smoked marijuana as a medicine," said panel co-chairman John A. Benson, an emeritus professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. How might cannabinoid drugs be used? "Analgesia [pain relief] may be the biggest market for commercial exploitation," Benson said. Animal studies show that cannabinoids can relieve mild to moderate pain, working about as well as codeine. Because they act upon a different set of brain receptors than the opiates (such as morphine and codeine), they are unlikely to have the same side effects and might be used in combination with opiate drugs. The report calls for additional human studies in this area, saying the few trials conducted in humans so far are inconclusive. For nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, cannabinoids are mildly effective, but for most patients, neither marijuana or THC (an active ingredient of marijuana) works as well as other anti-nausea drugs currently available, the report found. Those drugs are effective in more than 90 percent of patients, Benson said, while THC is effective only in about 25 percent. (THC, or dronabinol, sold under the brand name Marinol, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for control of severe nausea in chemotherapy patients who don't respond to other drugs.) But cannabinoids might enhance control of nausea when combined with other drugs, the panel concluded, and delivering cannabinoids by inhaler might be an effective route for people who are already too nauseated to swallow. It called for further research on the topic. Although many patients with AIDS say smoking marijuana has improved their appetite and has helped them regain weight, the first clinical trial of marijuana in such patients--conducted by Donald Abrams of the University of California at San Francisco--has not yet been completed. Marinol was approved by the FDA for this purpose in 1992, but some people with AIDS find its psychological effects too intense and say it takes too long to act, the report said. The panel urged further research on the use of cannabinoids in AIDS, saying they could be helpful both as appetite stimulants and to reduce pain, nausea and anxiety. The panel also cited an abundance of anecdotal reports that marijuana and THC can relieve painful muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis, but said that to date there have been no good animal studies or well conducted clinical trials. Marijuana has been advocated to treat a number of other conditions, but the panel found the evidence for its benefits weak. It was not impressed with cannabinoids' potential for treating glaucoma, migraines or movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease or Huntington's disease. The report recognizes the dilemma faced by patients who have turned to marijuana because they cannot get relief from legal medicines, and said such patients "will find little comfort in a promise of a better drug 10 years from now." In some states, people using marijuana to treat diseases such as AIDS or multiple sclerosis have been arrested. Eight states have laws permitting doctors to prescribe marijuana, and five more passed medical marijuana initiatives last fall. Under federal law, however, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug with no legitimate medical use; doctors can face prosecution for prescribing it, and patients for possessing it. Yet, some patients with chronic illnesses insist that marijuana has made their symptoms bearable and has even prolonged their lives. In such cases, if there is no alternative treatment, the panel suggested establishing a system under which marijuana could be provided on a compassionate basis, as an experimental drug, and patients' condition would be monitored closely. Greg Scott, 37, a Florida man with AIDS, said that smoking marijuana helped him gain weight and thus avoid having to be fed intravenously through a tube that carried a high risk of infection. "I am living proof that in some cases, smoking marijuana is a viable and beneficial alternative," he said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot users take fewer road risks than drunks study says (The Toronto Star says a new University of Toronto study suggests that while marijuana, like alcohol, impairs performance, people who drive after smoking moderate amounts of pot compensate for any impairment by driving more slowly and cautiously.) Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 09:37:08 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: Pot users take fewer road risks than drunks study says Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Page: A3 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com Author: Joseph Hall, Toronto Star Transportation Reporter Pot users take fewer road risks than drunks study says Getting high on marijuana doesn't lower the ability to drive nearly as much as drinking alcohol, a new University of Toronto study suggests. While marijuana, like alcohol, impairs performance, people who drive after smoking moderate amounts of pot compensate by driving more slowly and cautiously, says Alison Smiley of the mechanical and industrial engineering department. Smiley, who has studied transportation safety issues for 25 years, says ``the more cautious behaviour of subjects who received marijuana (in studies) decreased the drug's impact on performance. Their behaviour is more appropriate to their impairment, whereas subjects who received alcohol tend to drive in a more risky manner.'' Smiley, who does not advocate the general legalization of marijuana, says her study should be considered when contemplating mandatory drug testing for heavy equipment, train and truck operators or the decriminalization of marijuana for medical use. Smiley, who compiled her paper by analyzing her own data plus several controlled international studies, found moderate pot users typically refrained from passing cars and drove at a more consistent speed than when not using pot. But Toronto Constable Barry White, who co-ordinates the city's RIDE program, says that marijuana at any level negatively impairs driving ability.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot called less risky than booze on the road (The Globe and Mail version) From: Carey Ker (firstname.lastname@example.org) Reply-To: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Canada: Pot called less risky than booze on the road Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 09:14:40 -0500 (EST) Newshawk: email@example.com Source: The Globe and Mail, Page A2 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Author: Kim Honey, Science Reporter, Toronto An ergonomics expert who has 25 years studying driving behavior says smoking marijuana and driving is not nearly as deadly as drinking and driving. And although Alison Smiley does not condone the combination of car and cannabis, she does say her research has implications for random drug tests on truck drivers and other employees who operate heavy machinery. "I have a lot of concerns about urine screens being used by employers to imply some responsibility due to the consumption of a drug," said Dr. Smiley, president of Human Factors North Inc., an ergonomics consulting company, and an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Toronto. "Not just because of these findings, but because drugs can stay in the urine for far, far longer than they affect behavior." It's not that marijuana doesn't impair performance. Like alcohol, it causes drivers to wander in the lane, makes it difficult for the driver to divide his or her attention and slows response to the unexpected. But there is a difference in the way people respond to the drugs, Dr. Smiley said in an interview from Washington. "With alcohol, people tend to take more risks. They tend to speed up, pass more, that kind of thing. With marijuana, they tend to slow down, reduce risk taking." After examining accident statistics from two large studies, one from Australia in 1992 (1,900 people injured in accidents) and one in the United States from 1992 (2,500 people killed in accidents), Dr. Smiley found that drivers who smoked marijuana were no more responsible for the accidents they were involved in than those who were stone-cold sober. The drinkers, however, were responsible 98 per cent of the time they were involved in a crash. The other interesting finding was related to the drivers' perception of their impairment. After tests under the influence of marijuana or alcohol, drivers were asked to rate their performance. Those high on marijuana felt their driving had been affected, while those who had been drinking felt they had done fine.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexican banks to plead guilty to laundering drug money (The Los Angeles Times says that with their trial in Los Angeles just days away, two of Mexico's biggest banks have agreed to plead guilty to laundering millions of dollars for the Cali and Juarez drug cartels. Indicted as a result of the United States' "Operation Casablanca" sting, Bancomer will pay $9.9 million in fines while Banca Serfin will pay $4.7 million. Bancomer is the second-largest bank in Mexico and Banca Serfin is the third-largest. After the indictments were issued, U.S. authorities instituted forfeiture actions against the U.S. assets of 14 Mexican and Venezuelan banks and confiscated more than $68 million, including $16 million from Bancomer and $9.5 million from Banca Serfin.) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (email@example.com) To: "_Drug Policy --" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Mexican banks to plead guilty to laundering drug money Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 19:59:56 -0800 Sender: email@example.com Posted at 06:52 a.m. PST; Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Mexican banks to plead guilty to laundering drug money by David Rosenzweig Los Angeles Times LOS ANGELES - With their trial just days away, two of Mexico's biggest banks have agreed to plead guilty to laundering millions of dollars for the Cali and Juarez drug cartels, sources close to the case said. Bancomer will pay $9.9 million in fines while Banca Serfin will pay $4.7 million as part of their separate deals with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. In a related development, the government has agreed to drop all criminal charges against a third Mexican financial institution, Banca Confia, in a civil settlement of the money-laundering case. Confia, which sold most of its assets to Citibank after it was indicted, has agreed not to fight the U.S. government's earlier seizure of $12.1 million from its U.S. holdings. A hearing was scheduled for today before U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird to enter the guilty pleas. All three banks were indicted last May with more than 100 people, mostly Mexicans, in Operation Casablanca, the Customs Service's 2 1/2-year probe of international drug money laundering. Twenty-two bankers from a dozen Mexican and two Venezuelan financial institutions were implicated. When it became public, Mexican officials complained of being kept in the dark about the cross-border operation. Customs agents said they deliberately withheld information because they feared a leak by corrupt Mexican law officers. In addition to fines arising from their criminal pleas, Bancomer and Banca Serfin face hearings before the Federal Reserve Board to decide whether they should be barred from operating in the United States. Under a 1992 law, any foreign bank convicted of money laundering is subject to a mandatory license-revocation hearing before the Fed. Bancomer, with close to $30 billion in assets, is the second-largest bank in Mexico. It maintains offices in Los Angeles and New York and is a partner with the U.S. Postal Service in Dinero Seguro, a program that enables people in the United States to transfer money electronically to Mexico. Banca Serfin is the third-largest Mexican bank with $16.7 billion in assets and has offices in New York. After the indictments were issued, federal authorities instituted forfeiture actions against the U.S. assets of all 14 Mexican and Venezuelan banks whose employees were accused of participating in the money-laundering network. More than $68 million was confiscated, including $16 million from Bancomer, $12.1 million from Banca Confia and $9.5 million from Banca Serfin. Despite the plea agreements with the banks, the trial is expected to start Thursday against six Mexican bankers and businessmen, the remaining defendants in this case. Eleven defendants have entered guilty pleas while 20 more are fugitives. Three separate trials are in the works later this year for suspected members of the Cali cartel, the Juarez cartel and four Venezuelans accused of money laundering.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis Growers Bask In Spotlight (The New Zealand Herald says two Northland growers wanted to show the world the "honest and authentic" New Zealand, so they led a BBC travel show crew to a cannabis plot in the bush. But when the show screened in Britain recently, it upset expatriate New Zealanders who protested that it showed "the wrong image.") Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 19:38:32 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: New Zealand: Cannabis Growers Bask In Spotlight Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: David Hadorn (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: 30 Mar 1999 Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand) Copyright: New Zealand Herald Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.herald.co.nz/nzherald/index.html Author: Angela Gregory Page: A3 CANNABIS GROWERS BASK IN SPOTLIGHT WHANGAREI - Green, but not clean - that was the twist to New Zealand's pristine image that two Northland growers wanted to show the world. The men led a BBC travel show crew to a cannabis plot in the bush. The show, which has just screened in Britain, has upset expatriate New Zealanders, who say it shows the wrong image of the country. But the cannabis growers, tracked down by the New Zealand Herald yesterday, were proud of an "unforgettable" contribution to tourism. They agreed to take the BBC crew to their patch because the cannabis segment would make the "honest and authentic" tourism programme stand apart. The half-hour A Rough Guide to New Zealand featured just a few minutes of the trek in the bush last November. The two men wore balaclavas to conceal their identities and the crew and journalist Dimitri Doganis were made to tape over their sunglasses and travel at night so they would not know where they were being taken. After the show screened, New Zealanders complained to the Tourism Board in Wellington and London. Other subjects covered included bungi-jumping, fashion designed Karen Walker and the America's Cup. The growers said the crew were impressed with the bush and the 150 cannabis seedlings, worth up to $40,000 when mature. "They even got to hear a dawn chorus and kiwi. They were quite blown away." The Mayor of the Far North, Yvonne Sharp, said the growers could have badly damaged the image of the area and had dubious motives. "They just wanted to thumb their noses at authority." She doubted that the show would attract any tourists. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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