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. . . a weekly service for the media on news items related to marijuana prohibition.
October 30, 1997
Washington State Voters To Decide On "Drug
Prevention Act" Next Week
October 30, 1997, Olympia, WA:
State voters will decide Tuesday on a proposition to reform state drug laws and
allow physicians to recommend marijuana to seriously ill patients.
Initiative 685, "The Drug Medicalization and Prevention Act of 1997," models itself after an Arizona drug-reform initiative passed last November by 65 percent of the electorate. The initiative proposes the following changes in state drug laws:
* Requires that any person who
commits a violent crime under the influence of drugs serve 100 percent of his or her
* Permits doctors to recommend Schedule I controlled substances such as marijuana to seriously and terminally ill patients. Physicians would be required to exercise professional judgment in recommending Schedule I substances, to document that scientific research supports the use of the substance in question, to obtain the written opinion of a second physician that the use of the substance is appropriate, and to obtain the written consent of the patient.
* Provides that persons convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses successfully undergo court supervised drug treatment programs and probation instead of being sentenced to prison.
* Requires that nonviolent persons currently in prison for personal possession or use of illegal drugs, and not serving a concurrent sentence for another crime, or previously convicted under any habitual criminal statute in any jurisdiction of the United States, be made eligible for immediate parole and drug treatment, education, and community service.
Tacoma physician Rob Killian, who filed the
initiative this spring, said that he expects I-685 to receive the support of a majority of
Unlike California's successful medical marijuana initiative, I-685 does not include provisions allowing for the cultivation of marijuana for medical use. The initiative solely allows physicians to advise a patient that marijuana may help to alleviate the pain and suffering of serious illnesses. Backers of the initiative contend that patients facing marijuana charges will be able to present a successful "defense of medical necessity" if they have a valid doctor's recommendation to use marijuana.
"While I-685 fails to go as far as California's Proposition 215 to secure the rights of bona fide medical marijuana patients to be free from state criminal sanctions, it does confer some important legal protections for seriously ill medical marijuana users," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. "In addition, provisions requiring individuals convicted of personal possession of controlled substances to receive treatment or probation rather than incarceration will benefit thousands of Washington marijuana smokers who might otherwise be sent to jail."
"On election day, remember that I-685 is really about who decides -- whether decisions about health and treatment will be made by individuals and their doctors, or by politicians and government bureaucrats," Killian summarized.
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. Dr. Rob Killian may be reached by e-mail at: RKillian@aol.com.
Judge Allows Best-Selling Author To Use Defense Of "Medical
Against Pot Charges
October 30, 1997, Detroit, MI:
A district court judge yesterday decided that an AIDS and cancer patient facing
marijuana possession charges may present evidence that he uses the drug as part of his
The case involves Peter McWilliams, a best-selling author and former Detroit resident who is facing criminal charges for possession of seven marijuana cigarettes. McWilliams, who now lives in California, uses marijuana medicinally to alleviate the side effects of the AIDS wasting syndrome and cancer chemotherapy. He was arrested December 17, 1996, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after telling officers that he was carrying marijuana legally acquired in California.
"This [ruling] is an important victory for all Michigan patients," McWilliams said. "I'm fighting so all patients can have the choice to use a safe, natural, and non-addictive therapeutic drug."
NORML Legal Committee member Richard Lustig, who is defending McWilliams, praised the judge's pre-trial decision. "This decision is an important precedent that will help thousands of Michigan residents suffering from chronic pain," he said. "We are fighting for the right of patients to get all the medical help available."
In the sole court case since the passage of Proposition 215 involving a California resident arrested for possessing medical marijuana out-of-state, Nevada state prosecutors eventually dismissed all charges after deciding that the marijuana was for medical use only.
For more information, please contact either R. Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or NORML Legal Committee member Richard Lustig @ (810) 258-1600.
DEA Demands Names Of Marijuana Book Buyers
October 30, 1997, Tempe, AZ:
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials are demanding the names of all
Arizonans who bought a marijuana cultivation book in a move legal experts are calling
Ronin Publishing Inc. of Berkeley, California, and a gardening specialty store in Tempe, Arizona, both received subpoenas to reveal the identities of Arizona residents who have purchased Marijuana Hydroponics: High-Tech Water Culture. The Arizona store was also requested to turn over the names of customers who purchased grow lights, fans, and certain fertilizers.
Constitutional law attorney Ron Kuby of New York called the DEA's action "outrageous" during an interview with The Arizona Republic. "Whoever in the DEA [is responsible] deserves to lose their job and undergo some basic re-education on the fundamental values on which this country was built."
NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. agreed. "This clearly violates Constitutional protections of free speech, which includes the rights of citizens to read the literature of their choice," he said.
Arizona shop-owner Russ Antkowiak said that he does not keep files on which customers bought specific items. Beverly Potter, owner of Ronin Publishing, refused to comply with the subpoena and called the DEA's request "an infringement on the First Amendment."
"It's very frightening when the government can cook up their own subpoenas," she said. The agency issued the July subpoena under its own authority and did not need a judge's approval.
Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, said that the DEA undertook a similar operation in the early 1990's known as "Operation Green Merchant." In that instance, the DEA subpoenaed the names and addresses of customers who had purchased indoor gardening equipment. Law enforcement later conducted searches of customers' homes based solely upon this information.
"Thankfully, judges across the country rejected this kind of 'fishing expedition' as an overly broad use of police power," St. Pierre said. St. Pierre speculated that judges would rule similarly against the DEA's latest action if challenged.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on October 29 that at least one California gardening supply store was also subpoenaed by the DEA in May.
For more information, please call either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858.
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