Portland NORML News - Saturday, April 11, 1998

Todd McCormick - National Call-In Day - April 13
(American Medical Marijuana Organization Provides Contact Information
For Public Officials, And Publicizes Public Rally And Demonstration
6 PM Monday In Los Angeles - Speakers Include Dennis Person,
Todd McCormick's Mother, Ann, And Jack Herer)

Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 12:18:13 EDT
Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: AMMO (ammo@levellers.org)
To: Multiple recipients of list (drctalk@drcnet.org)
Subject: Todd McCormick - Nat'l Call-in Day - April 13



Monday, April 13, 1998

Please copy and re-distribute this announcement.

For more information, see: http://www.levellers.org/toddtoc.htm
For an interview with Todd, see: http://www.marijuanamagazine.com

Todd McCormick is being held in federal prison for failing to
comply to the conditions of his bond when he allegedly tested positive for
THC due to his use of legally-prescribed Marinol. Todd is one of the first
patients to be prosecuted under federal law for cultivation of marijuana in
California since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996. If the
feds succeed in convicting him of cultivation, no patient will be safe from
the persecution of the feds. Please help protect Todd and the rights of
all other patients!


NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY: Monday, April 13


Phone numbers, in order of importance:
1) White House comment line: (202) 456-1111

2) U.S. Department of Justice -- Attorney General's Office
Ask for the comment line: (202) 514-2001

3) Senator Barbara Boxer
DC: 202-224-3553
CA: 415-403-0100 or 310-414-5700
Fax: 310-414-0980

4) Senator Dianne Feinstein
DC: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954
CA: 619-231-9712
or 310-914-7300
or 415-536-6868


"I'm calling on behalf of Todd McCormick, a medical marijuana patient who
is has been imprisoned by federal law enforcement in Los Angeles for taking
a legally-prescribed drug called Marinol. I would like the federal
government to release Todd from jail until his trial, to allow him to take
Marinol for his pain, and to stop persecuting medical marijuana patients in
California altogether. Additionally, I would like to see Federal
Magistrate Judge James McMahon investigated for practicing medicine without
a license when he ordered Todd not to take Marinol."


Monday, April 13, 1998
6:00 PM
Federal Courthouse, Downtown Los Angeles, Main St. near Temple St.
Meet at the LA Mall across the street from the courthouse.
Bring signs, drums, candles, water, educational literature, etc.
If you can't come, send your prayers for Todd!!!

Scheduled speakers:

* Dennis Peron, Republican candidate for governor & father and author of
Prop. 215

* Ann McCormick, Todd's mother

* Jack Herer, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes"


After gathering, the group will make a short march to the federal detention
center where Todd is being held. We will send him our love and healing
that will penetrate even federal prison walls. Bring lots of drums so he
can hear us!



Todd McCormick Defense Fund
c/o David M. Michael Client Trust Account,
Bank of America # 16644 11541, Pier 5
North The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111,

This is an important case, and it is essential for Todd to have the
resources to fight it well.



Ask them to FREE TODD McCORMICK!!!!

Use this short email list to cut and paste into the Bcc: field of youremail
petewilson@ca.gov, gray.davis@ltg.ca.gov, piu@hdcdojnet.state.ca.us,
tmrozek@usdoj.gov, jmcmahon@usdoj.gov, senator@boxer.senate.gov,
senator@feinstein.senate.gov, president@whitehouse.gov,


Contact your own federal senators and representatives too.
For U.S. Senators in other states, see:

U.S. Representatives:


Other lists:


Ask them to FREE TODD McCORMICK!!!!


Send copies of any letters sent by email to the Colorado Hemp Initiative
Project: cohip@levellers.org


The Trials of Todd McCormick

Todd McCormick, 27 years old, had cancer nine times before the age of ten.
He uses marijuana to combat the constant pain he experiences due to his
childhood cancer treatments and to help stimulate his appetite.

In 1995, he obtained an prescription for marijuana from a physician in
Holland. After the passage of Prop. 215, he moved to Los Angeles and began
to cultivate cannabis to supply his medical needs and further his botanical
research. In July, 1997, he was arrested and charged with cultivation. He
was released on $500,000 bail.

On April 2, 1998, eight U.S. Marshals raided Todd's home to arrest him for
violating the conditions of his bond by allegedly testing positive for THC.
Todd had passed hundreds of urinalysis tests since his arrest in July, but
he had recently been taking a legally-prescribed drug, Marinol, which is a
synthetic form of THC. Todd had quit taking Marinol after a March 17 court
ruling in which Todd was ordered not to use "any form of marijuana,
including any synthetic marijuana, any products that contain marijuana
derivatives including but not limited to hemp seed oil, marinol [sic], or
any other product containing cannabinoid derivatives, either with or
without prescription." However, drug experts know that Marinol will cause
urine to test positive for THC for weeks after the patient has stopped
using it.

At a hearing on April 3, the prosecution was not prepared and had no
evidence to introduce that Todd had violated the conditions of his bail.
Despite this, Todd was ordered by Federal Magistrate Judge James McMahon to
remain in federal custody until April 22 to allow the prosecutors to get
their act together. An emergency hearing has been called for April 14.

Todd's trial is set to begin on May 27. He faces a ten-year mandatory
minimum prison sentence and millions of dollars in fines.


For more background information, updates, and other action alerts




Distributed as a public service by the:
Colorado Hemp Initiative Project
P.O. Box 729, Nederland, CO 80466
Our hotline has been disconnected b/c the voice mail
company went out of business. :(
Email: cohip@levellers.org
Web: http://www.welcomehome.org/cohip.html
"Fighting over 60 years of lies and dis-information
with 10,000 years of history and fact."


To be added to or removed from our mailing list,
send email with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the title.

Cannabis Club Leader, Partner Are Arrested ('Orange County Register'
Says Orange County Cannabis Co-Op Director Marvin Chavez
Has Been Arrested For The Second Time In Three Months)

Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 22:54:15 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US CA: Cannabis Club Leader, Partner Are Arrested
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: John W.Black
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Contact: letters@link.freedom.com
Website: http://www.ocregister.com/
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 1998
Author: Bill Rams


Police say they sold marijuana in violation of a judge's order. They call
the payments 'donations' for medical assistance.

GARDEN GROVE- The leaders of a group of ailing adults who distributes
medical marijuana to more than a hundred Orange County clients has been
arrested a second time in three months on drug charges, police said Friday.

By selling the drug, Orange County Cannabis Co-Op director Marvin Chavez
41, violated a judge's January order not to sell marijuana, said Deputy
District Attorney Carl Armbrust. In January, Chavez was released from jail
on condition that he not distribute it again, Armbrust said.

During the past month, police say, he and a partner sold marijuana to an
undercover officer twice.

But his partner denied selling the drug in a jailhouse interview Friday. He
said he and Chavez gave it away - then asked for a $20 donation.

The distinction is important because selling it is a felony; giving it away
is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
Proposition 215, which passed, allows people to use and grow marijuana for
medical purposes. But an appellate court ruled in January that
distribution of the drug is illegal.

If convicted of the felony charges, Chavez could face up to eight years in
prison, Armbrust said.

The maximum penalty for felony possession of marijuana, possession for the
purpose of sale and conspiracy is four years. But because he allegedly
violated the judge's order twice, he could face an extra four years in
prison - two years per additional sale, he said.

Chavez and Jack Shachter, 41, were arrested Thursday night at their homes
in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, respectively, police said.

Police seized several marijuana plants at both houses and took firearms
from Shachter's home.

"I'm not surprised," said Robert Kennedy, Chavez's attorney, regarding the
arrest. "He's a true believer. He's almost like a religious zealot."

Kennedy said Chavez has pushed the limit of a new law.

"The mandate of the people is that they want it to be available to those
who want and need it," he said.

But the problem is that people such as Chavez are not allowed to distribute
or sell the drug, according to law enforcement officials.

Chavez's partner said club representatives were giving it away for free to
sick people who have been issued cannabis club cards.

The only way to get a card is to have a doctor's note or be a
club-authorized "caretaker" of somebody with a note, he said. After giving
away the drug, Shachter said, he and Chavez would ask for a $20 donation.

He said the club has 187 clients in Orange County, including some who are
unable to grow the plants or otherwise obtain the drug because their
ailments are so debilitating.

"I'm helping people cope with pain, and it makes a world of difference,"
Shachter said. "No, I'm not going to stop. It's much safer and cheaper for
these people - who have doctors' orders - to get it from me then from
somebody on the streets."

The undercover officer got a card saying he was the caretaker of one of
their legitimate patients, he said.

Shachter said he wrote the police officer receipts twice, in both cases
noting in writing that the marijuana was free. He said the guns found
inside his home weren't loaded - except for a handgun stored in a locked

The officer offered a $20 donation after each transaction, he said.

"It's not about the money," he said. "It's about getting better."

Ban On Funding For Needle Swap Expected To End ('San Francisco Chronicle'
Quotes Unnamed 'Key Individuals Close To The Issue'
Who Say The Clinton Administration Is Moving To Lift A 10-Year-Old Ban
On Using Federal Funds For Needle Exchange Programs)

Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 22:54:29 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: Ban on Funding For Needle Swap Expected to End
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Tom O'Connell"  and "Frank S. World"

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 1998


White House decision is imminent, sources say Louis Freedberg, Chronicle
Washington Bureau

Under intense pressure from scientists, public health experts, activists
and its own AIDS advisers, the Clinton administration is moving to lift a
10-year-old ban on using federal funds for needle exchange programs,
according to key individuals close to the issue.

Although the administration's official stand is that it is still studying
the matter, a range of AIDS organizations and key individuals say they have
been assured a decision is imminent -- and they are anticipating that the
ban will be lifted.

``We have reason to be optimistic that the administration will lift the
ban, because it will fit comfortably within their perspective of research,
prevention and care of people with AIDS,'' said Representative Nancy
Pelosi, D-San Francisco. ``I know they are committed to stop the spread of
AIDS, and I am confident they won't let politics stand in the way of

Dr. Scott Hitt, a Los Angeles physician and the chairman of President
Clinton's advisory council on AIDS, said he believes an announcement could
be made within a week.

About 100 communities -- approximately 30 of them in California -- run
needle exchange programs without federal funds. The San Francisco AIDS
Foundation runs the largest in the nation, using a combination of city and
private funds to hand out 2.2 million needles a year.

State and federal laws require a public health emergency to operate a
needle exchange program, forcing the Board of Supervisors to make such a
declaration every two weeks since the program started in 1993.

Lifting the ban would allow San Francisco to spend federal AIDS prevention
funds on needle exchanges and free up funds for other programs. It would
also allow many other communities that do not have a needle exchange
program to initiate one.

``There could certainly be a financial benefit to San Francisco, and it
would certainly benefit hundreds of other programs around the country that
do not have the kind of support that San Francisco has,'' said Regina
Aragon, policy director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

According to authoritative estimates, more than half of new cases of HIV
infection are related to drug use. Some experts argue that at least 14,000
new cases of HIV could be prevented each year if needle exchange programs
were widely in place across the nation.

The congressional ban imposed in 1988 gives the secretary of health and
human services the authority to lift the ban if there is sufficient
scientific evidence to meet two criteria: needle exchange programs reduce
the spread of HIV, and they do not encourage drug use.

As late as this week, a spokesman for Health and Human Services Secretary
Donna Shalala said the administration is not yet convinced that needle
exchange programs do not promote drug use.


As frustration at the administration's inaction mounted, the president's
advisory council approved a resolution of ``no confidence'' last month in
the administration, marking an embarrassing rebuke to a president who has
prided himself on his efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic. Hitt sent a
sharply worded letter to Shalala saying that her failure to lift the ban
represented an ``abdication'' of her responsibilities.

On Thursday, council members held a conference call to decide whether to
approve an even tougher resolution calling on Shalala to resign. But they
decided to hold off after administration officials said a decision on the
ban was imminent -- although they didn't provide details about what the
decision would be.

But those close to the controversy believe the administration will lift the
ban in light of the mountain of scientific evidence demonstrating the
efficacy of needle exchange programs. Scientific panels and reports
commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the
American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association
have come to similar conclusions.

Within the administration, the emotional debate among Clinton's top
advisers on AIDS and drug policy has led some officials to wryly refer to
the conflict as ``czar wars.''

On the one side is Clinton's ``drug czar,'' retired General Barry
McCaffrey, who insists that handing out clean needles to drug users would
send the message that the government is condoning drug use. He has been
supported in that view by a combination of conservative Republicans and
some Democratic representatives of cities with large African American


On the other side is ``AIDS czar'' Sandra Thurman, head of Clinton's Office
of National AIDS Policy, although she downplayed her differences with

``We are not warring,'' said Thurman. ``General McCaffrey is every bit as
committed to stopping the AIDS epidemic as I am.''

At the same time, she said ``We have convincing evidence that the criteria
(needed to lift the ban) have been met.''

On Wednesday, a major obstacle appeared to be removed when the authors of
the only major study suggesting that needle exchange programs lead to
increased drug use contended that their research in Montreal and Vancouver
had been misinterpreted by McCaffrey and others.

Some AIDS advocates say they are skeptical of administration assurances
that it is moving on the issue, saying they have heard the same thing too
many times before.

``Until the decision is made, it is premature to say we have a victory
here,'' said San Francisco's Aragon. ``This is not an easy thing for the
administration to do, and I would caution my colleagues not to be overly

But others believe the administration is finally ready to act. ``I don't
think it will be much longer now,'' said Daniel Zingale, executive director
of AIDS Action in Washington, D.C. ``They understand where the science
comes down on this issue.''

Drug Agents Look For Owners Of Rochester Area Pot Farm
('The Daily Olympian' Follows Up On Yesterday's Big Cultivation Bust
In Washington State)

From: "W.H.E.N." 
To: "Talk" 
Subject: HT: Big Oly Pot Bust - 2 Olympian Articles
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 20:54:56 -0700
Sender: owner-hemp-talk@hemp.net

Both articles in this post are about the "BIG POT BUST" in Rochester last
week, as reported in the Daily Olympian. The second article below is a
follow-up article. Bob Owen

[The first article is here]


Drug agents look for owners of Rochester area pot farm

By Larry Miller
The Daily Olympian

OLYMPIA - Thurston County drug agents are still looking for the owner of a
Rochester-area farm where they seized an estimated $610,000 worth of
marijuana plants this week.

A warrant has been issued for the owner's arrest, county Deputy Prosecutor
Steve Sherman said during a preliminary court hearing Friday for a tenant
of the property, 43-year-old Cameron Noll Smith.

The farm is located on 168th Street Southwest.

"The owner of the residence is also under investigation, and there's a
warrant for his arrest in connection with the next step of this operation,"
Sherman told Thurston County Judge Richard Strophy.

Sherman did not elaborate or identify the owner.

Strophy set Smith's bail at $25,000 cash or surety bond.

Smith was represented in court by Olympia lawyer Jim Dixon.

Smith was ordered held in the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of
manufacturing a controlled substance while armed, possessing stolen
property and defrauding a public utility

Police seized 488 marijuana plants, 41 halide light systems valued at $400
each, and "other assorted growing equipment" from a barn on the property,
Sherman said.

A stolen pickup truck and three plastic bags containing methamphetamine
were found in the garage, he said, and a loaded handgun was found under a
couch cushion in the house.

Police also raided three other homes and two storage sheds in Thurston

The Thurston Narcotics Task Force had been monitoring the farm since
receiving a tip last August about a marijuana-growing operation there,
Sherman told the court.

In October, a 12-day joint investigation with Puget Sound Energy revealed
that electricity was being illegally diverted past the meter to the barn,
Sherman said.

Three other suspects arrested Thursday at the farm were released on bail,
pending charges.

Larry Miller covers Lacey for The Olympian. He can be reached at 754-5465.

Medical Marijuana A Scam (Misleading Letter To Editor
Of 'Anchorage Daily News')

From: "ralph sherrow" 
To: ralphkar@hotmail.com
Subject: MMJ a scam says US
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 14:48:37 PDT
US AK: PUB LTE:Medical Marijuana A Scam
Newshawk: Dave Fratello
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 1998
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Contact: 74220.2560@compuserve.com
Author: David Pepper
Link to response
MEDICAL MARIJUANA A SCAM A thought on so-called medicinal marijuana: The medicinal part of marijuana is a little chemical known commonly as THC. The amount of THC you receive from inhaling the crushed, shredded and finally burned leaves of the cannabis plant varies from location to location and from cultivator to cultivator and depends on whether or not the dealer cuts his stock with oregano. Regardless, the amount of THC is minimal compared with the levels of other chemicals that are inhaled, chemicals that can be psychoactive, harmful and even permanently damaging to the relatively fragile lung and brain tissue. So ask yourself: Do you want someone ''high on life'' cruising around the same streets, bike trails or shopping malls as you? Or maybe on the same streets as your children? Or hey! How about someone who has authorization to grow medicinal marijuana inviting your son or daughter over to ''study'' with his or her son or daughter. There is already enough of a problem with drinking and driving. Shall we get drugs involved too? The same people who are trying to legalize ''medicinal marijuana'' are also trying for ''medicinal PCP and LSD.'' Sound like fun? People who are smoking marijuana for ''medicinal'' purposes are lying to themselves and others, especially when you consider there is a synthetic form of THC out there with all the same advantages of the organic but without the need to ingest all the other chemicals. Let's keep the druggies wanted and their wares illegal.

Ban Tobacco Like Marijuana And Cocaine (Syndicated Columnist Carl Rowan
In The 'Houston Chronicle')

Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 12:05:10 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US: OPED: Ban Tobacco Like Marijuana and Cocaine
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Art Smart 
Source: Houston Chronicle
Contact: viewpoints@chron.com
Website: http://www.chron.com/
Pubdate: Sun, 11 Apr 1998
Author: Carl T. Rowan


THE local drug pusher cornered the president of the United States at a
fund-raiser and said:

"Cocaine has been good. We paid for our mansion off cocaine. We educated
our kids off cocaine. We paved our old driveway with blacktop off cocaine.
We pay our property taxes. We pay the preacher on Sunday morning. We
overhaul our vehicles, and we buy tires. We pay our insurance. And we pay
our mules and runners, and give them Social Security and Medicare. And we
just try to live right and do right off cocaine."

Replace the word "cocaine" with "tobacco" and you pretty much have the
emotional speech that tobacco farmer Mattie Mack gave to President Clinton
in Brandenburg, Ky., Thursday.

"Aw, come on," you say, "tobacco is legal and cocaine is not, and you can't
compare the two."

That's my point. I can compare them in terms of the damage they do to their
addicted users, but I can't compare their legal status. Yet I know that
there will be no solution to the curse of tobacco in this society until it
is banned just like marijuana and cocaine are, and there probably won't be
a solution even then.

I never believed last summer that the tobacco companies would pay $368.5
billion and accept the terms of the state attorneys general, of the
president and Congress, and of the health-care industry just to stay in
business with curtailed prosperity. Tobacco is such a golden goose that I
knew the industry would find some excuse ... like Sen. John McCain,
R-Ariz., raising the payment to $516 billion over 25 years ... to say that
it would rather fight than switch.

Clinton said in Kentucky Thursday, "I do not want to put the tobacco
companies out of business. I do want to put them out of the business of
selling cigarettes to teen-agers."

The tobacco tycoons have always known that if they can't sell cigarettes to
teen-agers, they are putting themselves out of business. A 14-year-old who
reaches 24 without smoking is very unlikely to take up the filthy, killing

That is why tobacco industry leaders have lied to America for generations
about the deliberate boosting of nicotine levels, the ad campaigns targeted
at teen-agers, the special lures for minority members. The tobacco industry
knows where survival and prosperity lie. And that is why the tobacco bosses
have brazenly declared war on legislation that would increase the cost of
cigarettes sharply by raising taxes on tobacco products; would give the
Food and Drug Administration power to regulate the levels of addictive
nicotine in tobacco products; and restrict drastically the advertising and
marketing practices of tobacco companies.

Big Tobacco has taken a colossal gamble that farmers like Mack, the
millions of people who already are hooked on nicotine and the Republican
Party will rise up and help them to maintain something close to the status
quo. The tobacco moguls seem to think that handing out a few billion
dollars in campaign contributions and sugar-coated bribes will provide more
protection than any $516 billion settlement.

But recent exposes of perfidy by the tobacco industry, and revelations of
the health tragedies caused by tobacco, have made it politically impossible
for Republicans to provide the shelter that the tobacco industry expects.

So there will be legislation. But it probably won't be the "new
Prohibition." It will be tough enough to make a lot of farmers think of
growing collard greens, and force a lot of tobacco company employees to
look for work elsewhere. But it won't put tobacco in the same pipe with
cocaine. So a semi-black market for tobacco will arise, the health problems
will endure, and our politicians will wring their hands and give more

And all the hopes of protecting teen-agers, and of using tobacco settlement
money for noble causes, will go up in schoolyard smoke.

Rowan is a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.

I Love Life Now (Letter To Editor Of 'Edmonton Sun' From A Man
Who Faces Life In Prison For Using Marijuana As An Antidepressant
On The Advice Of His General Practitioner -
And Suggests The Risk Is Worth It)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: LTE: I love life now
Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 08:32:07 -0700
Source: Edmonton Sun
Contact: sun.letters@ccinet.ab.ca
Pubdate: April 11, 1998

[Comment: Parenthetical remarks are the Sun editor's]

AFTER READING Kerry Diotte's March 8 column on decriminalization of
marijuana, I would like to make a motion that under medical
supervision, marijuana be provided to those in need. In 1973 I was
charged with conspiring to sell stolen merchandise. I asked for a
lighter sentence. I was single then and now I am married with three
young children. I wanted three years. My lawyer did his job and I was
sentenced to three years in maximum security. One week later the
Justice Department paid me a visit. They wanted to charge me with
committing a habitual criminal act. They said this is a very serious
charge. I told them I'm only 25 and you want to give me life in
prison? Again, I asked them to give me a chance. That was 25 years
ago. I don't know how marijuana works and neither does my doctor, but
after a real close call with a suicide attempt while on the drug
Elival, my doctor told me, "There is no medical data on marijuana. I'm
a general practitioner, I can't say try marijuana." I told him it's
against the law. If I get caught it's a big sentence for me. I took
the chance with marijuana. It makes me see things calmly. I have no
more headaches and no more thoughts of prison life. I love life now.

J. Foley

(It would not surprise us if medicinal use of marijuana was legalized
in the next decade.)

Don't Toughen Drug Laws (Letter To Editor Of Toronto 'Globe And Mail'
Opposing Marijuana Prohibition Cites MP's Acknowledgement
During 1996 Standing Committee Of Health Hearings That Tobacco Prohibition
Would Fail Because People Would Just Grow It In Their Basements)

Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 12:16:19 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Kelly T. Conlon" 
To: mattalk@islandnet.com
Subject: PUB LTE: Don't Toughen Drug Laws
Source: The Globe and Mail
Pubdate: 11 April 1998
Email: letters@globeandmail.ca
author: Carey Ker


RE Enforcers Challenge Cannabis Liberation Movement - April 6.

In your recent series of articles concerning Canada's drug laws, you
highlight the concerns of the RCMP, who are lobbying for stricter
legislation against cannabis cultivators.

Pierre de Savoye, the Member of Parliament from Portneuf, said of tobacco
during the Standing Committee of Health hearings in 1996 the reviewed our
current drugs legislation: "... if Parliament passed a law abolishing the
use of tobacco in Canada, people would just grow it in their basements. We
would also give the black market a magnificent boost. People would become
criminals to get tobacco. This means that abolishing, or banning, tobacco
is not necessarily going to improve things."

This line of reasoning is axiomatic within the marijuana industry.

Carey Ker, Toronto.

Partners In Crime - Smokers Should Sue Governments For The Billions
They've Taken In Tobacco Taxes (Editorial In Britain's 'New Scientist'
Says Living With A Smoker Is About 70 Times Less Likely To Give You Cancer
Than Having A Bad Diet And About 20 Times Less Likely
Than Regular Sunbathing, And While The Tobacco Industry Has Misled Smokers
About The Risks Of Nicotine Addiction And The Relative Benefits
Of Low-Tar Cigarettes, It Couldn't Have Done So
Without The Help Of Government)

Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 18:07:15 +0000
To: press@drugtext.nl, editor@mapinc.org, drctalk@drcnet.org,
maptalk@mapinc.org, Mattalk@Islandnet.com, ukcia-l@mimir.com,
drugtalk@adca.org.au, div28@lists.apa.org
From: Peter Webster 
Subject: New Scientist Editorial, PARTNERS IN CRIME
Newshawk: Peter Webster
Source: New Scientist
Website: http://www.newscientist.com/
Pubdate: April 11, 1998
Author: Editorial


Smokers should sue governments for the billions they've taken in tobacco taxes

AS THE legal net closes in around the tobacco companies, there are definite
signs of panic in the air. In the US, smokers are being chased out of
offices and public places with a zeal once reserved for rooting out
communists, while one former smoker seeking damages has called tobacco
companies "the most criminal, disgusting, sadistic, degenerate group of
people on the face of the Earth".

Even in cooler-headed Britain, things have been getting a tad hysterical.
A few weeks ago, fears about tobacco companies dabbling in "mind control"
surfaced when a newspaper disclosed that British American Tobacco planned
to add cannabis to its cigarettes in the event of the drug being legalised.
Needless to say, the fears were groundless: even if cannabis could be used
to control minds (which it can't) no sane government would let the horribly
discredited tobacco industry anywhere near the drug, legalised or not.

And perspective was a definite casualty in the flap about passive smoking
a couple of weeks ago. Depending on the headline, passive smoking was
either a conspiracy invented by health officials or a passport to an early
grave. Neither view is helpful.

To be fair to the critics who claim epidemiological studies exaggerate the
dangers of inhaling other people's smoke, the research is plagued by
variables. People who live with smokers can and do lie about their own
smoking habits, for example, while nonsmoking households are often richer
and eat better than smoking households. Even so, the balance of the
evidence suggests that inhaling the smoke of someone you live with does
increase your risk of lung cancer---by perhaps as much as 20 per cent.

The figure seems shocking but we must remember that active smoking
increases the risk by a staggering 2000 per cent: it would be astonishing
if second-hand smoke didn't cause some medical problems. And while the news
that lung cancers from passive smoking may kill up to 300 people a year in
Britain is clearly nothing to celebrate, the fact is that living with a
smoker is about 70 times less likely to give you cancer than having a bad
diet and about 20 times less likely than regular sunbathing. Even the
much-talked about legal implications of passive smoking turn out to be
mostly hype. Only one in five cases of lung cancer diagnosed among
non-smokers is linked to passive smoking, so it would be virtually
impossible to establish blame and win damages in the courts.

Amnesia rather than hysteria was the problem last week. Antismoking
campaigners in Britain produced a report which claimed that low-tar
cigarettes are no better than higher tar brands. Of course, it's good to
remind smokers that the tar ratings on packets are set by smoking machines,
that the ventilating holes put in filters to reduce tar work perfectly for
the machines but not for human nicotine addicts, and that people smoking
brands low in tar and nicotine "compensate" by taking more and deeper
puffs. And of course it's good to remind people that for years the tobacco
companies have conned the public by implying low-tar cigarettes are a
"healthier" option when they are not. But none of this is new.

In fact, most of it was known in 1983 when New Scientist ran a series of
articles campaigning for changes to the tar rating and labelling system. By
the mid-1980s, it was clear to researchers that low-tar cigarettes
delivered just as much tar as stronger brands---and as many respiratory
problems. Even scientists attached to the tobacco industry were openly
discussing the issue. The problem was that governments failed to grasp the
nettle and scrap the system.

So, yes, the tobacco industry has misled smokers for some twenty years
about the risks of nicotine addiction, and yes, it has fooled them about
the relative benefits of low-tar cigarettes. But it couldn't have done
either without the help of governments who for decades pursued labelling
policies designed to square their interest in public health with their own
addiction to hefty revenues from tobacco taxes. Changing that equation has
taken an epidemic of lung cancers and the prospect of smokers one day
taking governments to court accusing them of negligence. Only now are
health officials in Europe and the US planning big revisions in labelling

So go ahead: demonise tobacco and all those who have profited from it. But
remember, not even "sadistic, degenerate" dictators can operate in a
vacuum. Behind the scenes, there is invariably a democratic government or
two pulling strings to keep the cigarette barons in power.

Sentences For Drug Trafficking (Letter To Editor Of 'Irish Times'
From Prison Chaplain Opposes Justice Minister's Proposal
For 10-Year Mandatory Minimum For Anyone Caught With Illegal Drugs
Valued At More Than 10,000)

Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 12:07:38 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: Ireland: PUB LTE: Sentences for Drug Trafficking
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "(Zosimos) Martin Cooke" 
Source: Irish Times (Ireland)
Contact: lettersed@irish-times.ie
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Apr 1998


Sir, - I believe the proposal of the Minister for Justice to legislate for
a mandatory sentence of 10 years for those who traffic in drugs worth over
10,000 is a mistake.

It may be that some trafficking offences indeed warrant a sentence of 10
years; some may warrant an even longer one; but I have no doubt that some
will warrant a sentence of much less. Let me give a hypothetical example of
the latter.

A young man or woman with no involvement whatever with drugs is approached
at an airport, perhaps in Spain or England, and offered 1,000 to carry a
bag and hand it over to someone at Dublin Airport. This young person, for
one reason or another, is tempted, is caught at Dublin Airport with the bag
containing 20,000 worth of given the mandatory sentence of 10 years.

This young offender has made a bad mistake. Their situation is such that
the money has tempted them without fully realising the implications for
others of what they have done. Yes, of course the law must punish this
person. But 10 years? After a year or two in prison many such young people
will have learned their lesson and will be unlikely to offend again.

Surely it is not more than just to leave sentencing to judges who, from
years of experience in the courts dealing with offenders, will be able to
discern between the kind of case mentioned above and the hardened full-time
dealer who is getting rich from dealing in drugs.

Prison is supposed to be about rehabilitation as well as punishment. I
believe that a 10-year sentence in such cases as I quote above is more
likely to destroy offenders than to rehabilitate them.

- Yours, etc., (Rev) PATRICK SEMPLE, Church of Ireland Chaplain, Mountjoy
Prison, Dublin.



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