Group Puffs Against Pot Laws

  Group Puffs Against Pot Laws

Posted by CN Staff on April 24, 2004 at 22:48:02 PT
By Steve Miller, Washington Times 
Source: Washington Times  

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was only hours into its convention Friday when the group's executive director made an announcement to the 80 or so people awaiting a seminar.   "Let me remind you that this is Washington, D.C., and not San Francisco," Keith Stroup said. "There are some people out front taking their medicine and the hotel is threatening to call the police ... there are rules and while we don't have to like them, we have to play by them at this time."
It was a nutshell message that addressed the three-decade battle that NORML has waged on behalf of marijuana smokers nationwide by lobbying Congress, defending arrested users and advocating changes in national laws regarding marijuana use.   The "medicine" he referred to was marijuana, recognized in 10 states — but not in the District — as a legitimate drug to combat anything from chemotherapy side effects to glaucoma.   Outside the Almas Shrine Center on K Street, the midtown hall where the two-day 32nd annual convention was held, Darrell Paulsen sat in his wheelchair on the sidewalk and pulled on a joint. The smoke streamed into the air and into the noses of the buttoned-down crowd of executives and politicos walking by during lunch hour.   "If I was able to walk and I was smoking, someone might do something," said Mr. Paulsen, 33, of Minnesota, who suffers from cerebral palsy. "But they see me in a wheelchair and figure, 'Oh, that's the worst thing he can do?' "   The conference, which ended yesterday, drew nearly 300 people who listened to how-to panels about local lobbying and keeping away from the law, as well as discussions on medicinal marijuana and strategy for the future.   Most of those in attendance cited NORML as a primary influence in their stance against marijuana laws.   "NORML is the group I have known since I was a kid," said Mark Stepnoski, the former Dallas Cowboy football player, who while on the team in 1998 came out as a marijuana advocate and became a high-profile spokesman for the group.   Government studies have estimated that about 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once, a figure that has motivated pro-marijuana groups and bolstered drug-fighting agencies' budgets.   Author Eric Schlosser, who wrote last year's best-selling book "Reefer Madness," yesterday told a luncheon audience that while President Clinton's secretary of health and human services, Donna Shalala, once said that marijuana was a "one-way ticket to dead-end hopes and dreams," his view was that "conservatives have been more willing to speak out against the government's war on marijuana."   Mr. Stroup, the founder of NORML, announced Friday that he will step down from his directorship by the end of the year. He later said his two stints — one from 1970 to 1979 and one from 1995 to the present — had positive results.   "It's been a series of victories," said Mr. Stroup, 60. "We decriminalized marijuana in 11 states, with Oregon the first and Alaska the last."   And perhaps the most significant indicator of success, he said, was the 2002 Zogby poll that found about 75 percent of Americans rank marijuana as less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.   "It showed real progress," he said. "It was the highest acceptance we've ever seen. And we've said for 35 years, 'Don't treat us like criminals.' " Source: Washington Times (DC)Author: Steve Miller, Washington TimesPublished: April 25, 2004 Copyright: 2004 News World Communications, Inc. Website: letters washingtontimes.comNORML NORML Archives

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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on April 25, 2004 at 10:24:07 PT
Tell Salon they're WAY worse than Fox News
Salon magazine has the nerve to criticize Fox News as their front page story. http://salon.comSalon hasn't covered the War on Drugs since Dean became a candidate. They've been avoiding the issue as hard as they can.I wrote them a letter saying they had no right to criticize Fox given the fact that the Drug War doesn't even exist any more as far as one can tell from their front page.Fox not only covers the Drug War, they cover it with surprising balance. They ran the story on using pot for ADD and they quoted good people, heck they even quoted NORML. CNN doesn't do that. When does CNN quote NORML?
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Comment #2 posted by OverwhelmSam on April 25, 2004 at 06:57:34 PT

Activists Judge?
I personally prefer an activist Judge on our side to the activist presidents, activist attorney generals, activist drug czars, and activist congress members who are anti-marijuana reform.
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Comment #1 posted by global_warming on April 25, 2004 at 04:51:23 PT

Cultivating compassion
 Nice article from writer seems to have a good grasp of the situation.Cultivating compassion  Whenever folks over at the U.S. Justice Department were feeling blue about anti-American terrorists, uppity librarians or naked statues standing behind the attorney general, they could always take a deep drag on the anti-drug drug by busting a few terminal cancer patients in California.
  But now some derned activist federal judge has taken that simple pleasure away from them. Some days it just doesn't pay to be a jack-booted thug.
  It will be of great comfort to a few people, at least for awhile, to be members of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, Calif. That's because a federal judge Wednesday ordered the feds to stay away while the dispute over California's medical marijuana law plays out in the courts.
  The co-op's garden was shut down 18 months ago by a federal raid, surely one of the ugliest acts of governmental bullying on record.
  But U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, echoing an earlier appeals court ruling, found that the Wo/Men's Alliance was protected by a state law that allows people with a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana to ease the suffering attendant to cancer, cancer treatment, glaucoma or other ills that, many believe, are eased by the drug.
  The case is wending its way up to the Supreme Court. But, for now, California co-ops run on volunteer labor and donated funds that do not engage in anything resembling interstate commerce, may grow and distribute free pot to suffering people.
Advertisement  Even if the medicinal benefits are oversold, medical marijuana laws in California and eight other states are clearly motivated by the desire to ease human suffering.
  The administration's actions seem motivated by baser instincts including, perhaps, fear that someone might win relief from a substance they can grow themselves rather than being at the mercy of the price-gouging pharmaceutical industry.
  The Wo/Men's Alliance grows the marijuana, but the Justice Department is full of weeds.
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