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. . . a weekly service for the media on news items related to marijuana prohibition.

October 23, 1997

Ingestion Of Legal Hemp Seed Oil Can Cost You Your Job, Two Recent
Studies Reveal

        October 23, 1997, Washington, D.C.:   Ingesting legal hemp seed oil may cause an individual to fail a standard urine drug screen, according to two reports in the August issue of The Journal of Analytical Toxicology.
        Results of a study recently completed by ARUP laboratories in Utah indicate, "Commercially available cold-pressed hemp seed oil contains cannabinoids at levels capable of producing a positive standard workplace drug test.  ... A dose consistent with the manufacturer's recommendation ... [is] sufficient to cause a positive finding for cannabinoid metabolites in a workplace urine drug testing procedure designed to detect marijuana use."  The study noted that no pharmacological effects were observed in test subjects after consuming hemp seed oil.
        A letter to the editor published in the same issue affirmed the ARUP findings with those of a team of international researchers.   "We would like to report on the possibility of achieving a positive urinalysis for THC metabolites after modest consumption of commercially available hemp seed oil in Cannabis-naive individuals," the letter states.  "Thus, in absence of recreational drug use, it may become necessary to consider this source as a viable explanation for cannabinoid metabolites in urine."
        Hemp seed oil is sold commercially in health food stores across the nation.  Presently, health professionals like Dr. Andrew Weil tout the nutritional benefits of hemp seed oil, noting that it is second only to soy in protein and contains the highest concentration of essential amino and fatty acids found in any food.
        Hemp seed oil may be applied to foods just prior to consumption or ingested in capsule form.  Participants in the studies tested positive for THC regardless of which way they consumed the oil.
        "Urinalysis is not a reliable indicator of workplace impairment, and in some instances, is not even a true detector of past marijuana use," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation.   "As the use of hemp seed oil gains popularity, employers need to recognize that this legal product may test positive for THC."
        For more information or copies of the studies, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  For more information on hemp seed oil's nutritional potential, please contact NORML board member Don Wirtshafter of The Ohio Hempery @ (614) 662-4367.

California County Supervisor To Meet With Attorney General Regarding Plan To Distribute Medical Marijuana In County-Run Facilities

        October 23, 1997, Sacramento, CA:   San Mateo County Supervisor Mike Nevin will meet with state Attorney General Dan Lungren on November 14 to discuss a proposal to distribute medical marijuana through county-run facilities.
        "It just makes sense," Nevin told The San Francisco Chronicle.  He suggested that local hospitals and pharmacies dispense medical marijuana in order to eliminate the need for private Cannabis Buyers' Clubs which are not uniformly regulated.
        "We already have in place a secure system where people can receive medication," he added.  Presently, the county has a local ordinance prohibiting the establishment of Cannabis Buyers' Clubs.
        Legal analysts note that the proposed policy would likely run contrary to federal law unless the marijuana was supplied by a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Presently, federal law prohibits state entities from distributing marijuana unless it is mandated for "research purposes" only.   During the late 1970s and early 1980s, several state boards of health distributed marijuana to certified patients under this provision.  In all cases, the marijuana was provided by the federal government.
        NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup said that it is unlikely the federal government would supply marijuana for such a program at this time.
        For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.  A report outlining the history of state-run medical marijuana research programs is available from The NORML Foundation upon request.

Washington D.C. Political Leaders Sign On To Medical Marijuana Petition Drive

        October 23, 1997, Washington, D.C.:   District of Columbia Council Chair Linda Cropp and Mayor Marion Barry are two recent signatories of a petition drive to place a medical marijuana initiative on the city ballot, according to a recent press release by the AIDS awareness group ACT-UP.
        The release also named all four of the candidates running in the December 2, 1998 special election for the at-large DC Council seat as signatories.
        "The only council member to refuse my personal request to sign Initiative 57 has been Republican Carol Schwartz," said ACT-UP spokesman Steve Michael.  "This clearly indicates that there is broad based support for [medical marijuana.]
        Repeated calls by NORML to Marion Barry's office neither confirmed nor denied whether the mayor supports the legal use of medical marijuana.  A spokeswoman from Linda Cropp's office told NORML that she does not necessarily support Initiative 57, but believes that District voters should have the opportunity to decide the issue.
        The District's Initiative 57 would legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes under a physician's supervision.  Members of ACT-UP filed the initiative earlier this year after interim Council Chair Charlene Drew Jarvis and U.S. Attorney Eric Holder proposed legislation to stiffen penalties for the possession of marijuana.
        For more information, please contact ACT-UP @ (202) 547-9404.

New York City Political Candidate Runs On Marijuana Reform Platform

        October 23, 1997, New York, NY:   Manhattan borough presidential candidate Thomas Leighton believes that adults should be free to use marijuana recreationally and medicinally, and vows to halt rising marijuana arrests if elected this November.
        "Responsible adults who use marijuana should not be arrested or put in prison," Leighton states in his campaign literature.   "Even though the maximum punishment in New York [under state law] for using or possessing marijuana is ... a small fine, pot smokers in New York City are now arrested and jailed instead of ... given a summons.  This is a radical and costly change from long-standing city policy."
        According to the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services, citywide arrests for marijuana possession rose from 1,766 in 1990 to nearly 11,000 in 1996.  By comparison, arrests for marijuana sales remained virtually the same.
        "While I am sure that Mayor [Rudoplh Giuliani] feels that these statistics represent a major accomplishment, the staggering increase in arrests of non-violent marijuana offenders truly represents governmental waste at its worst," Leighton said.  "Such arrests cost the city millions of dollars in police time and court processing costs.  They do nothing to protect public health or safety."
        The 46-year-old Leighton is a longtime New York City resident who twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Green Party independent candidate.  Leighton supporters gathered over 5,000 signatures to place him on the ballot for the upcoming city election.
        For more information, please contact Thomas Leighton @ (212) 370-1835 or Aaron Wilson of Partnership for Responsible Drug Information (PRDI) @ (212) 362-1964.



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