NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR THE REFORM OF MARIJUANA
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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.
May 23, 1996
Federal Representative Continues Probe Into Potential Misuse Of Federal Power At Anti-NORML Demonstration
May 1996, Washington, D.C.: Rep.
Barney Frank (D-Mass.) continues to make federal waves in
response to a December 1995 rally held outside the offices of
Boston radio station WBCN to protest the airplay of the NORML
benefit CD, Hempilation.
Having previously written to Attorney General Janet Reno this winter both condemning the actions of rally organizers, the Governors Alliance Against Drugs, and requesting an inquiry into whether federal law enforcement officials were involved, Frank is again pressuring the Attorney General to take action. "I'm writing to express my severe disappointment in the response I received [from DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine] to a letter I sent you in December about the conduct of the Drug Enforcement Administration in an effort by officials of the state and federal government to put inappropriate pressure on a radio station, and to do so in an inappropriate manner," Frank asserts. "The response confirmed my fear that the Drng Enforcement Administration does not have the respect for free expression which ought to exist in the federal government, especially the Department of Justice, charged as it is with the protection of constitutional rights."
According to eye-witness accounts, the Massachusetts based anti-drug group, in cooperation with representatives from the DEA and local law enforcement, organized and participated in a protest outside the offices of WBCN Boston to voice their disapproval of the station "giving airtime" to the NORML benefit CD, Hempilation. Witnesses note that protesters arrived in state vehicles, attendees were encouraged to "bring their squad cars," and that an individual identified as the Boston liaison to the DEA accompanied Georgette Watson, Executive Director of the G.A.A.D, as she entered the station. This action prompted Bill Downing, president of Mass Cann NORML, to charge that "Th[is] sort of [behavior], when performed by government agents, [is] specifically [prohibited] by law.
"It is one thing for government officials to express their opinions as to what is appropriate behavior by radio stations," writes Frank in his follow-up letter to Ms. Reno. "It is quite another for a law enforcement official to arrive in these circumstances and participate in what is clearly an effort to pressure them on the spot. ... We are talking here about a situation where a law enforcement officer - I assume armed with both a weapon and with the power of arrest -- enters a radio station in the company of a state official who has organized a demonstration and joins with her -- indeed at her specific request -- in trying to persuade people at the station to stop playing certain music.
"My impression is that we do not have enough law enforcement officials available to do actual law enforcement. Diverting one of them to spend his time seeking to pressure radio stations into changing their selections is it seems to me both a misuse of scarce resources as well as a misuse of the authority of law enforcement officials where people's first amendment rights are involved. I therefore must ask that you promulgate policies which prohibit law enforcement officials from engaging in this sort of activity."
For more information, please contact either Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML @ (617) 944-2266 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.
Modified Hemp Measure Becomes Law In Vermont
May 14, 1996, Montpelier, VT: A bill
(H. 783) that could signal the first step in the establishment of
a domestic hemp industry in Vermont became law without the
signature of Gov. Howard Dean. However, hemp proponents
maintain that the approved measure falls short of the bill's
initial expectations and acknowledge that any chance for local
industrial hemp cultivation still remains far away.
Similar to a resolution recentiy approved in Hawaii, the revised Vermont legislation allows for research to be conducted into the feasibility of industrial hemp production, but removed language that would have authorized the state university to grow test plots in order to assess optimum soils and other growing conditions. The bill is a "compromise," admits Rep. Fred Maslack (R-Poultney), one of the chief backers of the original bill. Maslack notes that Gov. Dean would have vetoed any legislation that allowed for the growing of hemp.
"It's a start," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "But it's also an indicator of just how far we have to go."
In sum, the approved measure maintains that: "The commission of agriculture, food and markets and the University of Vermont are requested to undertake research, of a minimum of two years in duration, of industrial hemp production in the state. [This research] shall include: (1) Analysis of market economic conditions affecting the development of an industrial hemp industry in the state of Vermont; (2) Analysis of whether Vermont soils and growing conditions are appropriate for economic levels of industrial hemp production; (3) Analysis of research undertaken elsewhere in the world regarding minimum THC levels of industrial hemp production; and (4) Analysis of possible law enforcement aspects of industrial hemp production in Vermont."
For more information, please contact either the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) @ (303) 784-5632 or Rep. Fred Maslack @ (802) 287-9298. For more information on state efforts to initiate domestic hemp cultivation, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.
South Australia's Director Of Public Prosecutions Recommends The State Grow Cannabis
May 1996, South Australia, Australia:
The Director of Public Prosecutions in South Australia wants the
State government to grow and regulate the sale of cannabis,
according to statements he recently made in an exclusive
interview with the Australian publication, The Advertiser.
"We never really had a chance [in trying to stop drug use]," Director Paul Rofe, QC, stated. "We've just got to do something drastic."
Rofe maintains that criminal involvement in the cannabis trade would be cut dramatically if the government were to either begin growing the drug or issue licenses for its manufacture. Rofe suggested implementing a regulatory system similar to those already in place for the sale of alcohol and tobacco whereby individuals could purchase marijuana over the counter. Such a move would both eliminate illegal profits from the black-market sale of the drug and would cut down on the "underground" attraction of smoking cannabis, Rofe remarked.
For more information, please contact James Danenberg of HEMP SA Inc. @ (+61) 8 297 9442 or write: P.O. Box 1019, Kent Town, South Australia, 5071. HEMP SA can be contacted via e-mail @: hempSA@va.com.au or browsed on the World Wide Web @: http://www.hemp.on.net/
CORRECTION: ACCORDING TO MORE RECENT AND THOROUGH DATA ATTAINED FROM PAUL STANFORD OF THE OREGON STATE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, PAY FOR SCHOOLS BY REGULATING CANNABIS, THE OREGON CANNABIS TAX ACT OF 1996 (aka OCTA) HAS ONLY GATHERED APPROXIMATELY 31,000 SIGNATURES -- NOT THE 65,000 THAT WAS REPORTED BY NORML LAST WEEK. NORML REGRETS ANY INCONVENIENCE THIS ERROR MAY HAVE CAUSED.
MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 65 SECONDS!