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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.
February 15, 1996
Update: Judge Drops Charges Against Medical Marijuana User Todd McCormick
February 13, 1996, Bryan, OH: Judge
Anthony Gretick has dismissed drug charges against medical
marijuana user and activist Todd McCormick. McCormick, who
has a prescription from a physician in Holland to use cannabis as
a medicine, was arrested this past summer when Ohio State
Patrolmen discovered in excess of thirty pounds of marijuana in
Judge Gretick ruled that state troopers had illegally searched McCormick's vehicle and ordered that the evidence be suppressed. It is expected that the state will appeal Gretick's verdict.
Since the beginning of this case, McCormick has maintained that the search had been illegal and that the marijuana seized was intended solely for medical use and not for sale. McCormick, 25, is the founder of the San Diego Compassionate Use Club in California and was driving to his home state of Rhode Island to establish a similar club when he was arrested.
McCormick's case garnered national headlines this past fall when it was revealed that Judge Gretick was considering allowing McCormick to have legal access to cannabis while in jail. For much of his life, McCormick has used marijuana as a therapeutic to alleviate pain associated with a rare strain of cancer he suffers from known as histiocytosis X. While in Holland, McCormick received a prescription for the use of 1 to 10 grams of marijuana daily from Dr. R. T. Trossel of the Preventive Medicine Center in Rotterdam.
"I'm sure he can't live without it," Trossel notes, "because he becomes completely paralyzed. ...I am convinced [that] there are no other drugs that would give him the same relief. He's tried them all ... [and] ... this seems to have the best effect on him."
McCormick, who had recently been residing in the Netherlands, states that he is pleased with Gretick's ruling and plans on returning to Rhode Island shortly. He notes that he is considering filing charges against the state of Ohio.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Don Wirtshafter of The Ohio Hempery @ (800) BUY-HEMP.
Medical Marijuana Sentence Reduction Bill Introduced in California
February 5, 1996, San Francisco, CA:
State Assemblyman John Burton (D-San Francisco) has introduced
legislation (AB 2120) that would provide some relief for patients
who choose to cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The bill (AB 2120) would reclassify such personal cultivation and
use of medical marijuana as a misdemeanor, thereby allowing
judges to grant a wide variety of sentencing alternatives.
Currently, marijuana cultivation in California is categorized as
a felony offense and those found guilty may be subject to up to
three years in state prison.
The medical sentence reduction bill is scheduled to be heard before the Public Safety Committee of the State Assembly in March. Burton's bill represents the fourth year in a row that the state legislature has attempted to reconcile the continuing demand from the medical community for access to medical marijuana.
"This bill is a real ... effort to relieve the suffering of thousands of seriously ill people," says Dennis Peron, Director of Californians for Compassionate Use. "This is surely the least we can do."
The Californians for Compassionate Use coalition is currently attempting to place a medical marijuana initiative on the 1996 general election ballot by collecting 600,000 signatures by April 20, 1996.
For more information, please contact Dennis Peron of CCU @ (415) 621-3986.
Hemp Legislation Gathers Steam With Vermont Legislators
February 9, 1996, Montpelier, Vermont:
Legislation that proposes to permit development of a domestic
hemp industry in Vermont was passed by the House Agriculture
Committee in a 7-3 vote.
Modeled closely after a Colorado hemp bill, Vermont's legislation (H.783) would allow limited test cultivation of industrial hemp to take place at the University of Vermont for the next two years. The bill will go before the house floor for a second reading on February 20.
"There is nothing on the radar screen that has nearly the magnitude of economic benefit that hemp has for our farmers," states Rep. Fred Maslack (R-Poultney), one of The bill's primary supporters. "The federal government has no business interfering with state legislation."
Maslack notes that the hemp issue is a bi-partisan issue with "momentum in the house."
For more information on the status of this bill, please contact the Vermont Legislative Council @ (802) 828-2424.
Wait Till Next Year: Hawaii House
Postpones Voting On Hemp Cultivation Bill Until 1997
February 12, 1996, Honolulu, Hawaii:
The House Agriculture Committee has voted to postpone deciding on
a bill that would allow Hawaii to cultivate industrial hemp until
"more scientific information" can be gathered.
Legislation introduced by state Rep. David Tarnas would amend the state law to authorize the production, possession, and commerce of non-psychoactive industrial hemp in Hawaii. Tarnas maintains that the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaii could provide local farmers with a prosperous economic and environmental future. "Hawaii has the opportunity to capture a significant market share as the first hemp production in the U.S.A.," he wrote this past November.
Less enthusiastic were the members of the House Agriculture Committee who decided to hold off acting on Tarnas' bill until the 1997 legislative session. The committee's main concern appeared to be over the question of cross-pollination, stated an aid of Rep. Tarnas who attended the hearings. Law enforcement officials testified that marijuana growers would be able to grow psychoactive strains of cannabis alongside of non-psychoactive hemp. Hemp proponents denied this claim and argued that the growth of high grade marijuana was not possible in such close proximity to industrial hemp.
An aid of Rep. Tarnas maintains that he will "absolutely" reintroduce hemp cultivation legislation next year. In the meantime, the House of Representatives has released a concurrent resolution (H.C.R. 28) requesting the establishment of a "state licensing program for the agricultural production of industrial cannabis hemp for food, fuel, and fiber, and the establishment of a pilot project to conduct agronomic research on industrial cannabis hemp."
For more information, please contact Rep. David Tarnas @ (808) 586-8510. For more information on industrial hemp or a copy of H.C.R. 28, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.
REMINDER: THE USA TODAY SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT, ONE OF THE NATION'S MOST WIDELY DISTRIBUTED MEDIA FEATURES, WILL RUN A COVER STORY ON MARIJUANA THIS WEEKEND.
NOTICE! NORML DEPUTY DIRECTOR ALLEN ST. PIERRE DEBATES FORMER DRUG CZAR LEE BROWN LIVE ON AMERICA ON-LINE THIS MONDAY EVENING AT 9 P.M., NOT 10 P.M. AS WAS PREVIOUSLY LISTED. THE DEBATE, SPONSORED BY USA TODAY WEEKEND, CAN BE ACCESSED ON AMERICA ON- LINE BY ENTERING EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING KEY WORDS: "CENTER STAGE" OR "USA TODAY."
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 65 SECONDS!