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... a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.

December 22, 1995

Police, Protesters Clash At Florida Hemp Rally
Legal Marijuana Smoker Arrested For Pot

        December 9, 1995, Gainesville, FL:  The sixth annual Florida Hempfest was marred by a greater police presence than ever before and a record number of arrests -- including that of marijuana activist and legal medical marijuana user, Elvy Musikka.  Musikka, who is supplied by the federal government with a monthly prescription of marijuana cigarettes to treat her glaucoma, was dragged off the stage arm-and-arm by two police officers after lighting one of her prescription "joints" on stage.
        Musikka was initially charged with possession of cannabis and disorderly conduct.  Her lawyer, Gary Wainwright, later announced that the rally's organizers would take legal action against the city for false arrest.
        Hempfest organizer, Kevin Aplin, noted that the police presence at the event was both threatening and excessive.  "I'm sure the police intimidation discouraged some people from coming out," he told The Gainesville Sun.  Longtime hemp activist, Jack Herer, also stated that he felt the behavior of the Gainesville police officers was the worst that he had ever seen at an event.
        Nine total misdemeanor arrests were reported overall.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Anti-Drug Group's Attack On Hempilation, WBCN, Draws Fire From National Writers Union, Boston Coalition For Freedom Of Expression

        December 13, 1995, Boston, MA:  In response to a December 1 rally held outside the offices of Boston radio station WBCN to protest the airplay of the NORML benefit CD Hempilation, the National Writers Union and the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression have issued statements condemning the actions of rally organizers, the Governor's Alliance Against Drugs.
        Both groups are highly critical of the overall nature of the protest and specifically of the alleged use of state power and finances to help institute the rally.  Reports from the December 1 gathering note that protesters arrived in state vehicles, attendees were encouraged to "bring their squad cars," and an individual identified as a Boston liaison to the DEA accompanied Georgette Wilson, Executive Director of the G.A.A.D., as she entered the station.  "These sort of actions, when performed [and sponsored] by government agents, are specifically [prohibited] by law," charges Bill Downing, president of NORML's Massachusetts chapter.
        In a letter to Governor William Weld from the National Writers Union, Political Issues Chairman Robert B. Chatelle urges the governor to demand Ms. Watson issue a formal apology for her actions.  The letter further urges Watson to "pledge in the future to abide by the laws [and] the U.S. Constitution." If the executive director is unwilling to do this, the National Writers Union suggests that Gov. Weld request her resignation.
        "We are concerned ... that you have not yet spoken out against this abuse of power committed in your name," Chatelle writes.  "The voters of the Commonwealth have the right to hear from you about this disturbing event.  I'm sure you have no wish to advance your political career by trampling on the inalienable rights of the people."
        A press release issued by the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression also casts stern consternation on the event and calls the protest an "astonishing example of the power of the state riding roughshod over the Bill of Rights."
        "The news blackout on this matter, which should at the very least result in the resignation of Ms. Watson and the disciplining of the DEA agent who accompanied her into WBCN, is almost as scandalous as the incident itself," concludes James D'Entremont, Director of the Boston coalition.
        For more information, please contact either Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML @ (617) 944-2266 or Jeremy Much of Capricorn Records @ (615) 320-8470.  For further information on the Hempilation CD, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Missouri Senator Pre-files Medical Marijuana Necessity Defense Bill

        December 14, 1995, Jefferson City, MO:  State Senator John Moseley has pre-filed a bill (Senate Bill 573) for the 1996 session of the Missouri General Assembly that would provide certain marijuana users with a medical necessity defense.  Sen Moseley is the former President of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
        The bill states that "no criminal or civil penalty shall apply to any person for the act of possessing marijuana provided that ... a [physician] certifies in writing that the person is under professional care ... [and] ... needs marijuana as part of a therapeutic regimen."
        Attorney Dan Viets, President of Missiouri NORML, views Moseley's bill as a step in right direction and does not forsee significant political opposition.  "Given the fact our legislature overwhelming supported a resolution to end the federal prohibition of marijuana as a medicine in 1994, we feel that Moseley's bill has an excellent chance of passing in the Missouri General Assembly," he said.
        "It is appalling that in some states, juries are forbidden to hear testimony regarding the medical uses of marijuana," says NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.  "It is even more appalling that individuals who consume marijuana for its therapeutic effects are prosecuted under our nation's policy of 'zero tolerance.' Senator Moseley's legislation would allow for some needed compassion in America's war on marijuana consumers."
        For more information, please contact Attorney Dan Viets of Missouri NORML @ (314) 443-6866.

Charges Dropped Against Shop Owner Who Sold Shirts That Parodied DARE Logo

        December 8, 1995, Pomona, California:  The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office dropped charges against store-owner Mark Hornaday for selling T-shirts parodying the DARE logo.  Hornaday had been cited on a complaint by DARE America for selling shirts bearing the DARE logo with the statement: "I turned in my parents and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."  He was charged under a rarely used criminal law forbidding the counterfeiting of copyrighted logos.  Hornaday's T-shirts were also confiscated.
        Hornaday was defended by NORML Legal Committee member William Panzer, who argued that the law was unconstitutionally broad in failing to distinguish between legitimate free speech and intentionally deceptive marketing practices intending to mislead customers.  "No one was going to think those were really DARE T-shirts," argued Panzer.
        Pomona assistant district attorney Richard Jenkins said that he chose to dismiss the case because "the people from DARE would prefer that the [trade]mark be protected by a civil action."
        "Since when does DARE call the shots at the DA's office?" Panzer replied sarcastically.
        Hornaday faced a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine on four separate counts if convicted.  It is unclear whether DARE America intends to press further, civil litigation against Hornaday.
        For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Attorney William Panzer @ (510) 834-1892.

Republican Task Force Organized To Analyze, "Get Tough" On Drug Use

        December 13, 1995, Washington, DC:  Pronouncing the current administration's anti-drug policy to be "in utter disarray" and citing recent findings that indicate 48 percent of the high school class of 1995 has tried an illegal drug, House and Senate Republicans have organized an eighteen man task force to examine the drug issue.
        "It's time to get tough with this stuff," said task force co-chair, Orrin Hatch (R-UT).  Hatch criticized the nation's current anti-drug strategies as not focusing enough on interdiction and law enforcement.  The task force announced that it will issue a report in March.
        Recent studies demonstrate that drug use among high school seniors is steadily climbing upward.  The annual University of Michigan study discovered that teen drug use rose for the third year in a row, but cautioned that America's current adolescent use rates still remain far below the peak period of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
        For more information or for a listing of the eighteen individuals comprising the Republican task force, please contact NORML @ (202) 483- 5500.

-End-

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