Portland NORML News - Thursday, April 8, 1999

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)

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

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

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:

				- 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: letters@news.oregonian.com
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

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

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

Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/)
Pubdate: Thu, Apr 08 1999
Source: Oregonian, The (OR)
Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
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

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: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US NV: Lawmakers Asked To Soften Nevada's Marijuana
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: tomvondeck@hotmail.com (Tom VonDeck)
Pubdate: Thursday, 8 April 1999
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion@sacbee.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)


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

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: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US NC: Editorial: The Fourth Amendment Suffers At Court's Hands
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
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: edpage@nr.infi.net
Website: http://www.greensboro.com/


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

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

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" (compassion23@geocities.com)
Organization: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/
To: DPFCA (dpfca@drugsense.org)
Subject: DPFCA: US FL MMJ: High court hears
man's case to grow marijuana for medicine
Sender: owner-dpfca@drugsense.org
Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/
Source: Naples Daily News
Website http://www.naplesnews.com/
Email letters@namplesnews.com
Pubdate: 8 April 1999


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

"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

"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

Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 07:26:00 -0700
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US FL: MMJ: State Justices Hear Debate On Use Of Pot For
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.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: heralded@herald.com
Website: http://www.herald.com/
Forum: http://krwebx.infi.net/webxmulti/cgi-bin/WebX?mherald
Author: LESLEY CLARK, Herald Capital Bureau


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

``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: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US FL: Zoned Out
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
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: letters@weeklyplanet.com
Address: 1310 E 9th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605
Fax: (813) 248-9999
Website: http://www.weeklyplanet.com
Author: Susan Eastman, (susaneastman@weeklyplanet)


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

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

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

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

Such power, though, leaves a lot of discretion to the law enforcement

"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: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US: Drug Survey of Children Finds Middle School a Pivotal Time
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.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: letters@nytimes.com
Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
Forum: http://forums.nytimes.com/comment/
Author: Christopher Wren


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

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.



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