------------------------------------------------------------------- NORML Weekly Press Release (Marijuana like chemical could hold key to treating movement disorders; Illinois bill criminalizes marijuana information on the Internet; California county submits medical marijuana research proposal to federal government; Nearly eight out of 10 Canadians favor medical marijuana) From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 18:56:12 EDT Subject: NORML WPR 4/8/99 (II) Reply-To: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com To: undisclosed-recipients:; NORML Weekly Press Release 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. 710 Washington, DC 20036 202-483-8751 (p) 202-483-0057 (f) www.norml.org email@example.com April 8, 1999 *** Marijuana Like Chemical Could Hold Key To Treating Movement Disorders April 8, 1999, Irvine, CA: A marijuana like chemical produced naturally in the brain appears to help regulate body coordination and may hold hope for patients suffering from movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine announced that the brain's nerve cells use the chemical, called anandamide, to modify the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for stimulating movement and other motor behavior. Scientists believe that excessive dopamine production causes some symptoms of schizophrenia and the sudden spasms associated with Tourette's syndrome, while a lack of dopamine induces the tremors and movement hesitation characteristic of Parkinson's disease. "This [study] shows for the first time how anandamide works in the brain to produce normal motor activity," Daniele Piomelli, an associate professor of pharmacology at UCI, said. "Patients with schizophrenia and other diseases have reported that marijuana appears to relieve some of their symptoms, but scientists have never found a physiological reason why. By understanding how the anandamide system works similarly to marijuana, we can explore new ways to treat these [type of] diseases more effectively." Previous research on anandamide, which was first identified in 1992, indicated that it inhibited inflammation and extreme sensitivity to pain without carrying the risks associated with the use of opiates. Scientists dub the chemical an "indigenous cannabinoid" because it binds to the same brain receptors as do compounds in marijuana. NORML board member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School called the UIC findings the "tip of the iceberg." "Endogenous cannabinoids and their receptors will play a major role in the neurobiological understanding of the brain and, as a consequence, help us understand and treat a number of diseases," he said. The findings of the UIC study appear in the April issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience. For more information, please contact either Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School @ (617) 277-3621 or Dr. John Morgan of the City University of New York (CUNY) Medical School @ (212) 650-8255. *** Illinois Bill Criminalizes Marijuana Information On The Internet April 8, 1999, Springfield, IL: The state House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that would impose criminal penalties on those who transmit information pertaining to marijuana on the Internet if they "know that the information will be used in furtherance of illegal activity." NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. called the proposal one of the "dumbest" he'd ever heard. "First, it illustrates the phobia many legislators hold toward marijuana," he said. "Under this measure, someone could legally transmit information about potentially violent activities like building bombs, but face criminal prosecution for posting messages about the documented medical uses of marijuana. Second, this is an attempt to circumvent the first amendment guarantee of free speech by turning the transmission of certain factual information via the Internet into a 'thought crime.' Proponents of this type of legislation are the equivalent of modern day book-burners." House Bill 792, introduced by Rep. Gerald Mitchell (R-Rock Falls), seeks to make the transmission of "information about cannabis by the Internet" a Class A misdemeanor if the provider is aware the information could be used for an illegal activity. The Senate Judiciary will hold hearings on the proposal next Wednesday. The House approved the measure 114 to zero. For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. To read more about H.B. 792 or additional pending state marijuana legislation, please visit the NORML website at: http://www.norml.org/laws/stateleg1999.htm. *** California County Submits Medical Marijuana Research Proposal To Federal Government April 8, 1999, San Mateo, CA: San Mateo County officials submitted a proposal to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) seeking approval to conduct clinical trials on medical marijuana. The study hopes to better determine inhaled marijuana's medical benefits on patients suffering from severe nausea and weight loss. "What we've done is we have pushed the envelope as San Mateo County is the first [California] governmental entity that's been willing to put its money up to conduct clinical trials," County Supervisor Mike Nevin said. "Our hope is that these trials will ultimately lead the United States of America to change the law." NIDA is the sole supplier of marijuana for research purposes and must approve all clinical trials on the drug. The agency has approved almost no medical marijuana research proposals this decade. San Mateo County is the third state governmental agency to submit a medical marijuana research proposal to NIDA since 1996. Previous proposals by the Washington and Massachusetts state boards of health were rejected by the agency. NIDA rejected a separate protocol from private researchers to study marijuana in migraine treatment last fall. In addition to NIDA approval, federal guidelines require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide primary funding for all medical marijuana trials. Private donations may not fund the research. No other drug must meet such requirements. NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said he applauded Nevin's efforts to get medical marijuana into the hands of local patients, but doubted that NIDA would approve his proposal. "While the government publicly invites researchers to study medical marijuana, it privately works to quash these proposals," he said. For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. *** Nearly Eight Out Of Ten Canadians Favor Medical Marijuana April 8, 1999, Edmonton, Alberta: Seventy-eight percent of Canadians support legalizing medical marijuana, a Decima Research Inc. poll reported Wednesday. "Medical marijuana is an international issue, and supported by the voting public here and abroad," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said. The polling firm asked 2,026 Canadian adults whether they strongly agree, agree, oppose or strongly oppose the federal government's consideration of legalizing marijuana as a medical treatment. Recently, Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock said his office is considering developing federal guidelines for medical marijuana trials, although it is not the first time he has made such statements. The House of Commons is expected to vote on a separate motion to legalize medical marijuana this June. The Canadian poll comes days after a Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana as a medicine. For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. To read the results of previous medical marijuana polls, please visit the NORML website at: http://www.norml.org/medical/polls.html. - END -
------------------------------------------------------------------- Tobacco fast cash gets cool reception (According to the Oregonian, the Oregon House of Representatives' majority whip, Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, and other lawmakers said Wednesday that a plan to convert part of Oregon's annual tobacco settlement payments into $400 million in immediate cash could be a wise move, but not as a solution to the state's budget impasse. State Treasurer Jim Hill has proposed selling $400 million in bonds, which would be repaid with $900 million in tobacco revenues during the next 20 years. Oddly, the newspaper doesn't ask why politicians are worrying about the "risk of future settlement payments drying up.") Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Thu, Apr 08 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Steve Suo of The Oregonian staff Tobacco fast cash gets cool reception * Lawmakers say turning part of a settlement into a quick $400 million may be a good idea but won't resolve the budget deadlock SALEM -- A plan to convert part of Oregon's annual tobacco settlement payments into $400 million in immediate cash could be a wise move, but not as a solution to the state's budget impasse, lawmakers said Wednesday. Such a maneuver would reduce the risk of future settlement payments drying up, Republican leaders said, but the one-time windfall should be banked rather than spent. "If we take it and invest it wisely, we could come out ahead," said House Majority Whip Mark Simmons, R-Elgin. "But if we spend it, which we absolutely are not going to, we're going to come out further behind." Bob Applegate, spokesman for Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, mostly agreed, saying the financial maneuver might make sense but wouldn't achieve Kitzhaber's school spending goals. "We don't think this gets us there," Applegate said. State Treasurer Jim Hill proposes selling $400 million in bonds, which would be repaid with $900 million in tobacco revenues during the next 20 years. Cash from the bond sale would be used to pay for $200 million for school capital needs and to create a $200 million trust fund to finance health care programs. After the bond sale, the state still could receive $53 million in tobacco settlement money each year, which could be invested in a "rainy day" trust fund for budget emergencies. "It is consistent with what the tobacco settlement is all about, and, I think, meets some needs that are very dire in the state," Hill said in unveiling the idea Wednesday. Hill said he hopes to broker a compromise between Kitzhaber, a fellow Democrat who says a tax increase is needed to pay for increased school spending, and Republicans, who control the Legislature and oppose tax increases. Hill noted that the $200 million his proposal designates for schools is the amount needed to bridge the gap between Republican leaders' budget of $4.725 billion for schools and Kitzhaber's $4.95 billion. The central problem for Kitzhaber and Republicans appears to be the way in which Hill proposes spending the money, however. Rollie Wisbrock, a treasury official, said the capital expenditures prescribed in Hill's plan could be broadly defined to include textbooks and computers, which are now commonly paid for out of operating funds. That would free up other money for teacher salaries and hiring. But Applegate said Kitzhaber would be hesitant to build a one-time revenue boost into long-term school spending patterns, and Republicans mostly agreed. They have built into their budget $150 million in bonds for one-time capital needs such as Internet connections, building repair and construction. Simmons, chairman of the House Rules, Elections and Public Affairs Committee, already is working on a Republican-proposed health security fund. He said he would prefer putting proceeds from a tobacco settlement-backed bond into a trust for health care. Hill's plan would have Oregon join a handful of other states that are "securitizing" their tobacco settlement money -- part of a $206 billion nationwide settlement the tobacco industry agreed to pay when 46 states dropped their lawsuits seeking health care reimbursements in November. New York City, which is receiving $6.7 billion of New York state's settlement, is set to become the first to issue settlement-backed bonds in July. A series of bond issues is expected to yield $2.5 billion. Financial companies started rushing to put together similar deals almost as soon as the tobacco settlement was reached. "Investment bankers are always hungry for ways to generate bond volume," said Dave Litvack, managing director of the bond rating firm Fitch IBCA Inc. in New York City, "and you can securitize any flow of payments you want." The technique is widely practiced in other areas of finance. Typically, a person or company owed a flow of payments --a car loan, a mortgage or a winning lottery ticket -- can sign the payments over to an investment bank for cash up front. To some degree, all the parties in the transaction stand to gain. The seller receives a cash sum that is discounted for the fact that future payments are uncertain and stretch out over time. The buyer assumes the risk but can claim a series of payments. The broker, usually a large investment firm, receives a cut for arranging the deal. And bond rating agencies, paid by issuers to assess the risk of default when a bond is sold, also profit. "I'm not sure there is a downside," said Brad Gewehr, an analyst for the New York investment house of PaineWebber Inc. In the case of states and cities, taking tobacco settlement payments has considerable risks. Payments from the four big tobacco companies, under a formula set by the settlement agreement, decline when sales drop. In addition, the federal Health Care Finance Administration has threatened to reduce future federal Medicaid payments to states for treatment of smokers' illnesses, in effect claiming a share of the tobacco settlement. Securitization would take away one part of that risk. After issuing its bonds, Oregon would deposit any money it receives from the tobacco settlement in an account. The amount is expected to be $1.9 billion during the 20-year life of the bonds and $2.4 billion over 25 years. The state makes no promises to pay back bond holders out of tax revenues if the settlement money comes up short. Instead, an agreement with bond holders would require the tobacco account to pay off their $900 million in interest and principal first. Whatever money is left-- projected to be $53 million a year -- would flow to the state. That $53 million could drop if cigarette sales decline. But without securitization, $95 million a year would be at risk. And, by putting the residual $53 million into a rainy day account instead of public services, a sudden drop in tobacco money would not force budget cuts. What's the cost to the state? The premium, analysts say, is not especially high. Treasury officials estimate they will pay an interest rate of 7.5 percent for the $200 million in health care bonds. They expect to invest the proceeds in fixed-income securities at 5.5 percent. Bond buyers would demand a lower interest rate -- 5.5 percent -- on the $200 million in education bonds because they would not have to pay taxes on the income. You can reach Steve Suo at 503-221-8234 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Meth labs potential chemical nightmares (The Oregonian continues to present just one side of a recent story about a house that was allowed to burn down in Portland after a methamphetamine lab was supposedly found in the basement. An otherwise quotidian bit of fear-mongering about the toxic chemicals and risks posed by such labs typically fails to note they are the inevitable result of the law of supply and demand. The newspaper also typically fails to explain such labs within the context of the history of amphetamine prohibition.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Thu, Apr 08 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Peter Farrell of The Oregonian staff Meth labs potential chemical nightmares Last month, a fire chief let a stately if neglected old home in Southeast Portland burn to the ground after a sheriff's deputy, while evicting the occupants hours earlier, saw what looked like a working methamphetamine lab in the basement. The house caught fire while firefighters and police waited for a hazardous materials expert from the State Crime Laboratory to deal with the suspected drug lab. The discovery brought out drug investigators from the sheriff's office, who in turn called in Portland police and firefighters. Hours later, members of the fire crew saw smoke coming from the basement of the house at 5824 S.E. Yamhill St. Battalion Chief Mike McGuire took command as additional firefighters arrived. He ordered crews to fight the fire from the outside only because of the chemical dangers. Crews kept the fire from spreading to other structures, but the house was destroyed, as was any evidence of a drug lab. The Fire Bureau's hazardous materials specialists are trained to deal with everything from oil spills to huge chemical fires. So why wouldn't they touch the meth lab? One reason is that the labs are crime scenes and come under the control of law enforcement. "It's pretty much a police operation," said Bill Henle, hazardous materials coordinator for the Portland Fire Bureau. "We're just there for support." But there are special dangers, too. "No one can just go in and just shut down a meth lab," Henle said. "If you do the wrong thing, you can cause a fire or trigger an explosion." Firefighters are generally safer dealing with a major industrial chemical fire than they are working with meth labs, he said. "In an industrial fire, we pretty much know where we're at and what we've got," he said. Illegal meth cooks improvise with duct tape and chemicals they obtain by altering store-bought products. Their training may be only what they've read on the Internet. "They're always experimenting," Henle said. "It's a chemical nightmare, and it takes an experienced person." Methamphetamine is an illegal drug that is relatively inexpensive. People manufacture or cook it for their own use or for profit. A key ingredient is pseudoephedrine, which is obtained in tiny amounts from over-the-counter cold pills. A lab might process thousands of pills to produce a batch of meth. Jason Gates, a Multnomah County sheriff's sergeant, works on a state-funded hazardous materials team that handles drug labs outside Portland. He's been involved in taking down more than 30 methamphetamine labs since December. There are times, he said, when chemicals found at a lab are dangerous enough to call in the Explosive Devices Unit - more popularly known as the bomb squad. In one case, Gates said, team members found 156 cans of starter fluid at a lab. The fluid is an easy-to-buy source of ether. "When you find something like that, you don't know how long it has been stored," he said. "Even the container may be altered. So we call EDU. The fluid is under pressure, and heat weakens the container, so it can explode." Unstable ether also is shock-sensitive, he said, meaning a dropped container could blow up. And phosphene requires ultimate caution because it's flammable, highly toxic and can explode. Other chemicals used to make meth are caustic enough to remove a person's skin in seconds. Meth labs are most dangerous "during the cooking," Gates said. "You generate some really nasty gases." Henle said most meth labs look alike, but no meth lab is typical. "We can go in there and we can tell from the color of the chemicals and such what stage they are at and what method they are using," he said. "But you can't be sure that everything is what you expect." You can reach Pete Farrell at 503-294-7665 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Lawmakers Asked To Soften Nevada's Marijuana Possession Law (The Sacramento Bee says Assemblywoman Chris Guinchigliani urged Nevada lawmakers Wednesday to vote for her bill, AB 577, which would reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. First-time offenders could be fined $500 but would face no jail time. Currently the offense is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.) Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 05:52:08 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NV: Lawmakers Asked To Soften Nevada's Marijuana Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom VonDeck) Pubdate: Thursday, 8 April 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 Author: Kiley Russel (Associated Press) LAWMAKERS ASKED TO SOFTEN NEVADA'S MARIJUANA POSSESSION LAW CARSON CITY - Nevada lawmakers were urged Wednesday to adopt a California-style marijuana possession law that would levy mild penalties compared with the harsh punishments now on the books. Assemblywoman Chris Guinchigliani's AB577 would reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. First-time offenders could be fined $500 but would face no jail time. Currently the penalty is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Under the bill, a second offense could result in a $1,000 fine and referral to a drug court or drug rehabilitation program. "This is not intended to send a message that drug use is OK. It is an attempt to focus on rehabilitation for possession of one ounce or less," Guinchigliani, D-Las Vegas, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee Wednesday, adding that "marijuana no longer carries the stigma of a gateway drug." Chief Justice Bob Rose showed up to testify on AB577 but said his position prohibited him from taking a stand either way. But a 1993-1994 study shows felony prosecutions for possession of a relatively small amount of marijuana "clog the court system," said Rose, who chaired the commission that developed that study. Under Guinchigliani's bill, money collected from fines would be spent locally to develop drug treatment programs that would be alternatives to jail. Richard Siegel of the American Civil Liberties Union told lawmakers that the bill will create "a more efficient judicial system and a more effective jail system." "Our overall marijuana laws will still be as punitive as any in the United States. You can look your most conservative constituents in the eye and say 'That hasn't changed,"' Siegel said. But Assemblyman Greg Brower, R-Reno, said the bill is a step in the wrong direction. "Aren't you really saying you're in favor of the legalization of marijuana," Brower snapped. "I would say I'm in favor of decriminalization, but we're a long way from that in this bill," Siegel replied. The Washoe County public defender's office also backed the bill, saying that the current law is not prosecuted as vigorously as some might think. Most defendants charged with felony possession of an ounce or less of marijuana are allowed to plead down to a misdemeanor and rarely do much jail time anyway, said John Morrow of the defender's office. "On the one hand we have 'Reefer Madness' laws on the books, but we've got 'Up in Smoke' going on in our society," said Morrow, referring to two films at the extremes of the marijuana debate. But David Hosmer of the Nevada Division of Investigations said marijuana can indeed lead to use of other, harder drugs and the state should not reduce criminal penalties for possession. "At a time when we are telling our youth to just say no to tobacco, it's not a good idea to send the message that may be interpreted as 'Just say maybe to marijuana,"' Hosmer said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Fourth Amendment Suffers At Court's Hands (A staff editorial in the Greensboro News and Record, in North Carolina, says bit by bit, the U.S. Supreme Court has been dismantling the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches. The justices' ruling this week that a police officer who stops a car may rummage through a passenger's personal belongings without a search warrant is nonsense. The Supreme Court has been all too willing to put the convenience of law enforcement ahead of the rights of citizens. Where will it end? Random pat-downs on street corners?) Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:46:25 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NC: Editorial: The Fourth Amendment Suffers At Court's Hands Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC) Copyright: 1999 Greensboro News & Record, Inc. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.greensboro.com/ THE FOURTH AMENDMENT SUFFERS AT COURT'S HANDS Rulings Threaten Civil Liberties. Step into a car and you leave your Fourth Amendment rights behind. Or so says the U.S. Supreme Court. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, but the court has been dismantling it bit by bit. This week, the justices ruled 6-3 that a police officer who stops a car may rummage through a passenger's personal belongings - without a search warrant - because he suspects the driver may have done something wrong. "Passengers, no less than drivers, possess a reduced expectation of privacy with regard to the property that they transport in cars, which travel public thoroughfares," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. Nonsense. It makes no difference where you are, the police must show good cause before they search your home, your car, your handbag or pockets. That fundamental right is guaranteed by the Constitution and safeguarded by the magistrate - the official appointed to stand as a disinterested party between police and the privacy of citizens. It's the magistrate who grants warrants for searches. In their crusade against crime, particularly the drug trade, politicians and police have tried repeatedly to short-circuit that safeguard. Time after time, the courts have gone along, giving police more and more leeway to root through cars and search innocent people without cause. The Supreme Court hasn't scrapped the Fourth Amendment entirely. At least not yet. Last December, the justices found against an Iowa police officer who stopped a car for a routine traffic violation and then searched it without warrant or suspicion, just to see if he might find something illegal. In other cases, however, the Supreme Court has been all too willing to put the convenience of law enforcement ahead of the rights of citizens. The case this week began in Wyoming, after a trooper stopped a car with a bad brake light. The trooper noticed a syringe in the pocket of the driver, David Young. When asked about it, Young admitted he had used the syringe to take drugs. The trooper searched the car, and in the process, he rifled through the purse of a passenger, Sandra Houghton. He found methamphetamine. Houghton was wrong to have the drugs. The trooper, however, had no cause to search her or her purse. He had no reason to suspect she had done anything wrong, other than the fact that she was riding with Young. No one's defending drug users or criminals. It's the larger principle that's important here. Though it may be expedient for police to bypass the magistrate and search people without a warrant, it's wrong. It makes law officers their own judge and threatens our right as Americans to be left alone in our homes, our cars and our persons. Where will it end? Random pat-downs on street corners? Law officers need to get a warrant, then do their search. That's hardly a burden, especially these days, when computers have made communication faster and easier than ever. It may all look like useless paperwork to politicians and crime-weary citizens, but it's there to protect the rights of everyone - the innocent as well as the guilty.
------------------------------------------------------------------- High court hears man's case to grow marijuana for medicine (According to an Associated Press article in the Naples Daily News, the attorney for 61-year-old George Sowell, who says smoking marijuana is the only way to ease his glaucoma and nausea, asked the Florida Supreme Court Wednesday to let his client grow the illegal herb in his yard. Sowell received a kidney transplant 17 years ago after glaucoma drugs caused his to fail. Sowell's trial judge refused to allow a "medical necessity" defense, but the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned Sowell's conviction and probation sentence on the grounds that the argument should have been allowed. The state attorney general's office appealed to the state Supreme Court, which likely won't make a final ruling for several months.) Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 09:52:25 -0500 From: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: DPFCA (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFCA: US FL MMJ: High court hears man's case to grow marijuana for medicine Sender: email@example.com Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: Naples Daily News Website http://www.naplesnews.com/ Email firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: 8 April 1999 HIGH COURT HEARS MAN'S CASE TO GROW MARIJUANA FOR MEDICINE Thursday, April 8, 1999 By JEFFREY McMURRAY, Associated Press TALLAHASSEE - The attorney for a man who says smoking marijuana is the only way to ease his glaucoma and nausea asked the Florida Supreme Court to let his client grow the illegal drug in his yard. The case of 61-year-old George Sowell could reveal whether the court will allow a medical exception to the statewide substance ban. Sowell, who received a kidney transplant 17 years ago after glaucoma drugs caused the organ to fail, said Wednesday he started growing the plant in his yard because it helped ease the symptoms. "I can't eat without using a little bit of it to kill the sickness in my stomach," Sowell said by phone from his Chipley home. But although Sowell said he grew marijuana on his farm for about 15 years, he stopped the practice two years ago after his conviction on possession and cultivation charges. He said he still smokes about three marijuana cigarettes a day but gets them from someone else. "I have a good source I get it from," Sowell said. "He grows it chemical-free. I am a law-abiding citizen, and I don't want to be breaking the law, but they force me to break the law." A trial judge refused to allow a "medical necessity" defense, but the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned Sowell's conviction and probation sentence on the grounds the argument should have been allowed. The state attorney general's office appealed to the Supreme Court, which likely won't make a final ruling for several months. Wednesday's arguments focused on whether the Legislature intended to ban medical marijuana more than three years after a case that involved two Panama City Beach residents suffering from AIDS. Like Sowell, their 1990 convictions for growing marijuana plants for medical use were overturned by the same appellate court, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Kenny and Barbra Jenks have since died, but their legal victory fueled a statewide movement to legalize marijuana for some purposes. Assistant Attorney General Giselle Rivera told the high court the Legislature ended any ambiguity when it passed a 1993 statute that said drugs such as marijuana have no "medical purpose." The statute also refers to a legal alternative - a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Sowell had the option to use that, Rivera said. "He could have gotten a doctor's prescription to use synthetic THC," she said. "Because the Legislature has added this in, it has done away with the medical necessity of marijuana in this state." Sowell said he never tried THC but had spoken with others who didn't think it worked as well as marijuana. Attorney John Daniel, who represents Sowell, spoke for only a few seconds, telling justices lawmakers weren't trying to outlaw a common-law "medical necessity" defense when they wrote the statute. "You're not suggesting the Legislature can't do this?" Chief Justice Major Harding asked. "The only thing you're saying is they've not done it?" "Yes, your honor," Daniel answered. "And I hope they never do." Justice Leander Shaw and Barbara Pariente also questioned the attorneys, expressing concerns that the court would be eliminating the "medical necessity" defense without enough proof. Regardless of the 1993 Legislature's intent, it's clear the new Legislature isn't interested in legalizing medicinal marijuana now. The Senate has already held a statewide drug summit, and both chambers are pushing bills to tighten the reigns on drug criminals. Cory Tilley, spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush, said the governor doesn't want to allow medical marijuana because he fears it would lead to widespread legalization. "It's going the opposite direction he wants to go," Tilley said. "He wants to bring this state's feelings about drugs to the forefront and try to discourage youngsters and older people who are addicted."
------------------------------------------------------------------- State Justices Hear Debate On Use Of Pot For Illnesses (The Miami Herald version) Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 07:26:00 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US FL: MMJ: State Justices Hear Debate On Use Of Pot For Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Bobby Wells
Pubdate: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 Source: Miami Herald (FL) Copyright: 1999 The Miami Herald Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.herald.com/ Forum: http://krwebx.infi.net/webxmulti/cgi-bin/WebX?mherald Author: LESLEY CLARK, Herald Capital Bureau STATE JUSTICES HEAR DEBATE ON USE OF POT FOR ILLNESSES TALLAHASSEE -- Three weeks after U.S. health experts recommended marijuana use for some patients, the Florida Supreme Court took up the issue, hearing oral arguments Wednesday on whether seriously ill people have the right to smoke pot for medicinal purposes. The Florida case involves a 61-year-old Panhandle man who smokes the illegal substance to keep his glaucoma at bay and lessen the nausea caused by transplant drugs that he must take so his body doesn't reject a kidney. ``It kills the sickness so I can eat and I can see,'' George Sowell said in a telephone interview after his lawyer pleaded his case before the high court. ``I'm a law-abiding man, but I'm not going to sit here and go blind.' Sowell was convicted of cultivating and possessing marijuana in 1995. Police said they found nearly 70 plants capable of yielding up to half a pound of smokeable pot on Sowell's property in Chipley. Sowell tried to claim the crop was medically necessary, but the trial judge refused to hear the defense. An appeals court, however, overturned his conviction, finding that Sowell could use the argument as a defense. The state attorney general appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which will issue a ruling later this year. The state contends the Legislature prohibited medical marijuana use in 1993, after a 1991 court case that upheld the right of an HIV-infected couple to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. Assistant Attorney General Giselle Lylen Rivera said the Legislature outlawed the use when it rewrote a state law, saying drugs such as marijuana have no ``medical purpose.'' She noted that the law was changed to allow patients to take a legal alternative of pot -- a synthetic version of the active component in marijuana. ``He could have gotten a doctor's prescription,' Rivera said. ``Because the Legislature has added this in, it has done away with medical necessity as a defense to smoking marijuana in this state.'' Sowell's attorney, John Daniel, said the Legislature did not wipe out the medical necessity defense when it rewrote the law. ``You're not suggesting the Legislature can't do this?'' Chief Justice Major Harding asked Daniel. `You're just saying they haven't done it?'' ``Yes, your honor,'' Daniel replied. ``And I hope they never do.'' That's unlikely. The attorney general's office predicted after the hearing that even if the court finds that medical necessity can be used as a defense for smoking marijuana, the Legislature would try to close the loophole. ``If they say the law does not have clarity, I would suspect there would be an intent by the Legislature to rule it out as a defense,'' said Carolyn Snurkowski, assistant deputy attorney general. The measure would likely get Gov. Jeb Bush's approval. A spokesman for the governor said he is ``adamantly opposed' to medical marijuana use. The justices appeared troubled that current law does not spell out that medical use of marijuana is prohibited. ``Isn't it a better policy to have the Legislature clearly state we no longer recognize this particular defense rather than speculate on what they intended?'' Justice Barbara Pariente asked. Sowell said he hopes the ambiguity in the law can be used to pry open the door for legalized use of medical marijuana. ``There's people out there that need it worse than I do, and they'd be using it if it were legal,'' Sowell said. ``They know it's just good medicine. This is medicine that God put here.'' The debate in Florida comes three weeks after the national Institute of Medicine recommended that marijuana cigarettes be made available for short periods to help cancer and AIDS patients who can find no other relief for their pain and nausea. The report from the Institute, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, found that compounds in marijuana have the potential to ease some pain and suffering associated with certain diseases. Battles over medical marijuana have been fought across the nation since 1996, when California passed a ballot initiative that removed state penalties from people who used marijuana for medicinal purposes. Since then, Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state have passed laws permitting the use of medical marijuana. A group in Florida has tried since 1997 to collect enough signatures on a petition to legalize medical marijuana. Some mainstream medical organizations and the New England Journal of Medicine have endorsed its use.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Zoned Out (The Daily Planet, in Tampa, Florida, says Hillsborough County law enforcement agencies have delineated 47 areas of the county off limits to the 2,200 county residents on probation for drug offenses, mostly possession.) Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 03:35:58 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Zoned Out Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Manny Levitto Pubdate: 8 April 1999 Source: Weekly Planet (FL) Copyright: Weekly Planet Inc. 1999 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1310 E 9th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605 Fax: (813) 248-9999 Website: http://www.weeklyplanet.com Author: Susan Eastman, (susaneastman@weeklyplanet) ZONED OUT You've just scored a quarter ounce of Hydro from the bedroom garden of your local pusher. Cruising across south Tampa, you puff on a joint -- got to try out the goods. Dang. In the rear view mirror, a revolving blue light says trouble has found you. Should have gotten the vehicle registered yesterday instead of hitting the beach. The stench of pot wafts out to greet the officer when you roll down the window. And that is how you wind up with a probation officer and a list of do's and don'ts that will guide your life on probation. Can't go anywhere where alcohol is served. No more nights at Club 1509. Can't go where drugs are used or sold. To help you with that last stricture, your probation officer hands you a list. It designates zones of the county that are off limits to stoned toadies like yourself. Wait a minute, here. Can't take my dog for a walk on the beach at Davis Islands? No more hanging out on the green couch at the Atomic Age Cafe? What about Sunday dinners with the progenitors at their Beach Park pad? I already have tickets to Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. Where am I supposed to get hormone-free milk if I can't shop at Nature's Food Patch? Well, you could be in jail. The above scenario is a spoof, of course. But Hillsborough County law enforcement agencies have for the first time delineated 47 areas of the county off limits to the 2,200 county residents on probation for drug offenses, mostly possession. The authority to give people on probation maps is based upon a 1993 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits drug offenders from frequenting defined dealing areas. The 47 areas -- 42 are within the city limits -- mark off zones where the police have recorded high drug activity. Not to worry if you are an upper-middle class white hipster. You probably won't be inconvenienced much. The Atomic Cafe, Davis Islands and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center aren't within the county's crime zones. Predictably, the county's poor white, Latin and black neighborhoods are. All of College Hill, Robles Park, Ponce De Leon, and Riverview Terrace housing projects are off limits. So are parts of Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights, the Interbay area and Suitcase City near the University of South Florida. The problem is that within those boundaries, there are not just crack houses or drug holes. There are also churches, beauty salons, restaurants, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, whole communities. If your mother lives within a crime zone, that means no Sunday dinner with Mom. No barbecue at Big John's Alabama Barbecue on 40th Street. It's within crime zone area 12. Nor can you attend a church service at the Brown Temple Church of God in Christ, 2317 27th Ave. E., near College Hill. It's in crime zone area, too. Well, you could be in jail. When people are on probation, the state can completely deny their right to go anywhere. That is why state officials assume they have the right to release people from jail, but restrict where they can and cannot go, said Mark Brown, professor of law at Stetson University. Someone on probation is usually restricted from leaving the state, for instance. Still, the Hillsborough County maps skirt the boundaries of civil rights protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Although the police say that they drew the lines based on the incidence of crime, if the areas are mostly within black or Hispanic or mixed neighborhoods, one could argue that there was race-based motivation in drawing the lines, Brown said. That would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. "They would argue they have a neutral basis for drawing the lines based on high crime, but still the impact falls on the African American community. Even though impact doesn't violate the Equal Protection Clause, you are one step closer to doing that," he said. "If every area is black or Hispanic, you can infer from that that race or ethnicity is the true reason." Restricting people from seeking work, worshipping at the church of their choice or visiting family also steps on sacred constitutional rights, Brown said. While someone who lives or works in one of the areas can continue to do so, a drug offender would not be allowed to seek work or to move into a home in one of the areas, said Don Waldron, circuit administrator for the Florida Department of Corrections. Establishing conditions of probation that are so difficult to figure out that people can't be sure whether or not they are in violation is also a problem, Brown said. It has to be clear to people whether and when they are breaking a law or violating their probation. With 42 zones within the city limits, figuring out which areas are off limits and which aren't is a chore. Community activist Connie Burton spent three hours riding around the crime zones near the city's public housing projects with the map and a Hillsborough County street finder trying to figure out what areas the boundaries encompassed. That involved frequent stops at the side of the road to scrutinize the streets that make up the boundaries of the 47 areas. While Brown didn't go so far as to say that the maps are one more way to control the black community, it feels that way to Burton, who is the resident council president of the public housing project Robles Park Village. "What it does is criminalize the entire community," Burton says. To Margaret Wilson, it's an insult to label the neighborhood she calls home a crime zone. "They don't sell or deal drugs off the back of my car. I don't see them selling drugs on my corner. I don't see it," said the 54-year-old Wilson, who moved into a house on Virginia Avenue across the street from Robles Park three years ago. "I don't have any problems with drugs or with anyone trying to break in." Wilson said she feels safe in her home. To her, it sounded like the maps were just another reason for police to stop youth in her community and question them. "Every child in Robles Park is not using or selling drugs," she said. At a press conference in mid-February, representatives from the Florida Department of Corrections; the Plant City, Temple Terrace and Tampa Police departments; the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office; and the State Attorney's Office unveiled the maps. The new restrictions will be in force for anyone placed on probation after February 12. No one has yet been found in violation of probation due to being in one of the restricted areas, said state corrections administrator Waldron. If someone on probation for a drug offense were found in one of the areas, the police officer at the scene would notify the person's probation officer, who would notify the judge, and a hearing would be held to determine if a probation violation occurred. The notification process protects people on probation from getting picked up off the street and thrown into jail, and gives them a chance to explain what they were doing in the area, said Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi. Police officers won't be out on the street looking for people who are visiting their child, she said; they will be looking for someone who is standing on a corner in one of the areas selling drugs, she said. "That is where good law enforcement work is real important," Bondi said. Such power, though, leaves a lot of discretion to the law enforcement officer. "If the police have unbridled discretion in how to enforce this, that is a problem all by itself," Brown said. "The police can't have unbridled discretion in how to go about enforcing a law. The danger is that the state might simply pass a law that makes everyone a criminal and then leave it to the police to pick and choose. You don't want them to do that. The police then have a blank check. You want the state to be fairly specific about what is allowed and what is not." Police say the maps will help them deal with a frustrating Catch 22 in their war against drugs. Although officers make drug arrests, as soon as the offenders can, they go right back to the area where they sold or bought drugs, said Major Al Perotti Jr., of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "Most criminals want to do crime where they are comfortable, where they know the lay of the land, where they know their clientele," Perotti said. "Hopefully, this will force them into doing something legitimate rather than something criminal." Some residents within the zones say they are glad drug offenders will be kept out. "If they got a drug offense, they don't need to be here, period," said Clareatha Johnson, resident council president for Ponce De Leon Courts public housing project.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Survey of Children Finds Middle School a Pivotal Time (The New York Times notes a new nationwide survey by PRIDE, the Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education, based in Atlanta, is the first to include elementary-school children among the respondents. The survey found, not surprisingly, that more youngsters use "drugs" in middle school than primary school, but both PRIDE, the New York Times and General Barry McCaffrey frame the survey results to benefit their pro-drug-war, anti-marijuana agenda.) Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 19:52:09 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Drug Survey of Children Finds Middle School a Pivotal Time Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Robert Field http://www.csdp.org/ Pubdate: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://forums.nytimes.com/comment/ Author: Christopher Wren DRUG SURVEY OF CHILDREN FINDS MIDDLE SCHOOL A PIVOTAL TIME The first national drug-abuse survey to include elementary-school children among the respondents suggests that youngsters become more vulnerable to the lure of drugs once they leave the familiar environment of primary school and strive to fit into middle school. The new survey, by Pride, an organization based in Atlanta that counsels schools and parents on ways to inhibit drug use among the young, also confirms again what many researchers have long known: that cigarettes, alcohol (primarily beer) and inhalants are used far more by children than are marijuana or harder drugs. Pride -- the name is an acronym for the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education -- issued its findings yesterday at its national conference in Cincinnati. Until now, drug-abuse surveys among children did not focus on those below the eighth grade. But Pride's survey questioned pupils from Grade 4 through Grade 6, and among the findings were these: The proportion of respondents who said they had smoked cigarettes in the last month jumped to 7 percent of sixth graders from 1.6 percent of fourth graders. Similarly 2.1 percent of fourth graders said they drank beer at least once a month, fewer than half the 4.7 percent of sixth graders who reported doing so. Monthly sniffing of glue and other inhalants also rose between the grades, although less so: to 2.7 percent of sixth graders from 2.2 percent of fourth graders. As for marijuana, only 0.4 percent of fourth-grade pupils acknowledged having smoked it in the last month, as against 1.7 percent of sixth graders. In discussing their findings, officials of Pride also cited previous research, for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, indicating that children's risk of engaging in drug use rises when they move from elementary school to middle -- which, depending on the district, begins in Grade 5, 6 or 7 -- and later from middle school to high school. Peer pressure and association with new friends appear to be leading causes. Although marijuana use among the survey's respondents was far less common than their beer drinking or cigarette smoking, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy noted a sharp jump in monthly marijuana smoking from fifth graders (0.6 percent) to sixth (1.7 percent). "The reported dramatic increase of marijuana use between the fifth and sixth grades," said the director, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, retired, "is a real wake-up call to parents. We have got to get the word out that the pre-teen years are the key transition period where parents can play a critical role." The findings were based on responses from 26,086 pupils at public and private schools in 22 states during the 1997-98 school year. Pride sent a questionnaire to the participating schools with instructions for administering it, and all answers were anonymous. Doug Hall, a Pride spokesman, said the researchers had used a test-retest method in which the pupils were asked the same questions twice within a two-week period to catch any statistical inconsistencies. But the schools had all volunteered to participate in the survey, making them somewhat less representative than a broader nationwide sample would have been. The researchers found that the children interviewed, who ranged in age from 9 to 12, seemed to overestimate the number of friends and classmates who smoked cigarettes, drank beer or experimented with marijuana. For example, 14 percent of sixth graders said they believed that their friends had smoked marijuana, but fewer than 4 percent admitted having tried it themselves at some point. "This misperception alone -- that everybody's doing it -- can be a powerful motivator behind much of the drug use we see," said Thomas J. Gleaton, the president of Pride. "Youth need an accurate portrayal of drug use that begins with correcting the misperception that everyone is doing it." The nation's foremost annual survey of drug use by the young, Monitoring the Future, at the University of Michigan, questions eighth graders and up. It asks when they first began using drugs, and their answers indicate the same leap in experimentation between elementary school and middle school. In 1997, the latest year measured, just 0.9 percent of eighth graders said they had first tried marijuana in the fourth grade, 4.2 percent in the sixth grade. Similarly 8.3 percent said they had begun drinking alcohol in the fourth grade, and 12 percent in the sixth grade. And 7.8 percent said they had started smoking cigarettes in the fourth grade, and 12.4 percent in the sixth grade. In December, the Michigan survey reported that in 1997 marijuana use, after rising for six years, began to decline slightly among 10th and 12th graders and failed to increase among 8th graders. This raised hopes that prevention messages were finally paying off. -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to the 1999 Daily News index for April 2-8
to the Portland NORML news archive directory
to the 1999 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/ii/990408.html