It's NORML To Smoke Pot 

It's NORML To Smoke Pot 
Posted by CN Staff on June 21, 2002 at 17:21:13 PT
By Lanny Swerdlow, Desert Post Weekly
Source: Desert Post Weekly
San Francisco is the most pot friendly large city in the country, so it is no surprise that the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) held its national convention there on April 18-20. Over 570 people from all walks of life streamed to the Crowne Plaza Union Square Hotel to hear speakers from State Senator John Vasconcellos to the host of ABC-TV's Politically Incorrect Bill Maher. 
Demanding that the government lay off pot smokers, mothers decried the arrest of their children, medicinal marijuana users heralded its beneficial properties, civil libertarians denounced the violations of the constitution and pot smokers praised the plant for its enjoyable effects and the lack of harm of any significant extent. So what is a "pot" convention like? Like any other convention with speeches, panel discussions, rubber chicken luncheons, exhibition booths, tons of brochures and parties. Of course, the parties were a little different as there was very little alcohol consumption. Instead people in suits and ties, elegant dresses, GQ casual, Hollywood chic, jeans and t-shirts and even a few died in the wool 60's style tie-dye long hairs passed around joints and pipes with the herb that humans have been using since before we were human. DAY I In a room filled to capacity, Keith Stroup, founder and executive director of NORML, welcomed the attendees as he stood next to large reproductions of NORML's $500,000 print, broadcast and outdoor advertising campaign. The campaign features New York's newly elected Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his candid admission that he smoked pot and "enjoyed it." Stroup's call for pot smokers to come out of the closet set the tone for a conference featuring advocates for legalization, medicinal use and respect for individual rights. Following Keith Stroup, was the conventions keynote speaker, San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan. In 1996, he was the only district attorney in the entire state of California to endorse Proposition 215 which legalized medicinal marijuana. As District Attorney, Hallinan opposes prosecution for marijuana possession and follows a policy to not seek prison sentences for any marijuana conviction. Pointing out the inconsistency that it required a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol and only a legislative vote to ban marijuana, Hallinan informed the audience that "to consider marijuana in the same category as heroin and crack cocaine, as federal statues do, makes no sense and does not reflect reality." A video message was then shown from Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, a long-time advocate of marijuana decriminalization, congratulating NORML on the convention and to "show my support for the good work you are doing." The convention's first panel discussed the need to inform the public about marijuana and marijuana users. Mikki Norris, founder of the American Hemp Council and co-creator of the award-winning photo exhibit Human Rights and the Drug War, brought the delegates to their feet when she exclaimed "I want to see a time when we are judged on the content of our character, not our urine." Featured on the panel was Information Technology entrepreneur John Gilmore. Coming out publicly, Gilmore declared "I'm a millionaire. I smoke pot." Willing to put his money where he puts his joints, he has pledged to fund NORML's efforts to end marijuana prohibition to the tune of one million dollars a year for ten years. Claiming the use of marijuana is widespread by "techies" he chided the many pot smoking high tech entrepreneurs for not supporting NORML and other drug law reform organizations. Panel number two presented the latest information on drug testing. The panel's moderator, Dr. John Morgan of the CUNY Medical School, pointed to the 30,000 forensic drug tests undergone by Americans every day creating a two and a half billion dollar a year "urine testing industrial empire." With the recent Drug Enforcement Administration busts of medical marijuana providers, the panel on Patient Support Groups was full of fire and indignation. The panel featured a trio of providers at the center of the storm. Jeff Jones, director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative, discussed the nationwide attention his organization received last May when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the club could not use medical necessity as a defense against federal law for distributing medicinal marijuana as allowed by California's Proposition 215. Also on the panel was Dr. Mollie Fry, director of the California Medical Research Center, who denounced the theft of her patient's medical records by the DEA. Scott Imler, director of the Los Angeles Cannabis Club told how, over a six-hour period, DEA agents seized all their records and equipment including the horticultural equipment used to produce medicinal marijuana for their patients. HBO is producing a documentary on the club and the impact the raid had on the club's almost 1,000 patients, the majority of them suffering from complications due to AIDS. The following panel on the Continuing Legal Battles Over the Medical Use of Marijuana amplified the callousness and indifference of our local, state and federal governments to laws enacted by the electorate that they do not approve. Don Abrahamson, Legal Counsel for the Drug Policy Alliance, discussed how the unrelenting efforts by the Justice Department to censure any discussion between doctors and their patients violates the first amendment with its threats to revoke the prescription writing authority of any doctor recommending marijuana. David Nicks, who serves on NORML's legal committee and has represented many of the medicinal marijuana providers targeted by the Justice Department, discussed upcoming court battles. As part of the defense strategy, he will be introducing recently discovered government files that prove a conspiracy by government prosecutors and law enforcement officials to circumvent and thwart the requirements of Proposition 215, thereby violating the very laws that they have been sworn to uphold. A reception and award ceremony hosted by High Times magazine featured San Francisco City Supervisor Mark Leno. During the reception a fire alarm went off caused by the smoke from a couple pot aficionados cloistered in a hallway. An electronic voice told everyone to immediately vacate the premises by way of the nearest stairway. The celebrating crowd new all too well what had really happened and continued to gather round tables heaped with a variety of hotel style hors d'oeuvres as they feted many of the major players in the marijuana law reform movement. So ended the first day. DAY IIThe troops returned to convention headquarters at 8:30 hear State Senator John Vasconcellos, chief sponsor of Senate Bill 187. This landmark legislation would set up a statewide registry and establish guidelines for medical marijuana patients under Proposition 215. Having passed both the assembly and senate, the bill only awaits the governor's signature. Senator Vasconcellos urged supporters to "hold rallies, circulate petitions, contact Davis contributors and appointees and urge them to let the governor know they want him to sign the bill." The senator pointed out that "marijuana is benign, yet it is portrayed as the end of the world. It represents a cultural war against the 60's, which opened us up to each other. Marijuana is the symbol for freedom, democracy and opportunity." The first panel of the day featured a look back at the 1972 Schaeffer Commission report on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. Featured on the panel was Tom Ungerleider, a member of the commission who discussed the report's history and how the commission came to recommend the decriminalization of marijuana. Although President Nixon had appointed every member of the commission, he denounced the commission's finding and then launched the Drug War that still plagues America today. The following panel was a look at the policies on marijuana followed by Canada and Western Europe. Eugene Oscapella from the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy stated that Canadian laws on marijuana are considerably less harsh resulting in a "rate of incarceration for marijuana offenses that is one-sixth of the U.S. rate." He denounced the paid DEA informants operating surreptitiously in Canada as violating his country's laws and sovereignty. Peter Cohen, from the Drug Research Center of the University of Amsterdam, spoke of the movement away from prohibitionist drug policies to ones incorporating harm reduction throughout Western Europe. Discussing the various legal reforms to decriminalize marijuana, he singled out Portugal as one of the most progressive which "on July1, 2000 decriminalized all drugs making use and possession subject only to administrative sanctions." From tips on how to camouflage your crops to how to find a good lawyer, the next panel entitled "Avoiding a Pot Bust and Surviving If You Are Busted" presented down to earth information on current law enforcement techniques to ensnare pot smokers. As panelist Jeff Steinborn pointed out, "if you are smoking pot, you are being hunted like a deer." A panel of distinguished medical researchers and doctors comprised the day's final panel and centered on "Marijuana and Health - Both The Risks and Benefits." Leading off the discussion was Dr. Ethan Russo, editor of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics. His research with smokers who utilized medicinal marijuana furnished by the United States Government demonstrated that they suffered no significant harmful side effects from their daily use of this medicine over periods ranging from ten to fifteen years. During his presentation he noted that marijuana not only provided relief from their debilitating symptoms, but also enabled these patients to use significantly fewer prescription drugs. Another panelist, Dr. Donald Abrams, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, recounted the difficulty he encountered attempting to get marijuana from the U.S. government to conduct his studies. Finally after several years, he was able to obtain marijuana and conducted the study. In addition to finding that marijuana had no negative interactions with any of the AIDS "cocktail" drugs, he found conclusively that medicinal marijuana would affect weight gain in men suffering AIDS Wasting Syndrome. A distinguished AIDS research specialist, Dr. Abrams' research has been published in a multitude of medical journals including the American Journal of Clinical Pathology and the Journal of American Medical Association, but his research utilizing marijuana has been rejected by three journals. "Its all politics," he says, "just politics." DAY IIIIn an attempt to demonstrate that marijuana law reform is not just supported by those old wacky hippie communal pot freaks, the first panel in the morning was entitled "Left and Right Agree on Ending Medical Marijuana Prohibition." Featured on the panel was nationally syndicated columnist and author Barbara Ehrenreich. A left-wing progressive she argues that the War On Drugs is actually "a war on poor people and people of color." Pulling no punches, she noted that the upper echelons in business don't take drug tests explaining "you squat and pee so you know where you are in the corporate hierarchy." Joseph McNamara is a research fellow at the Hoover Institute, a conservative libertarian think tank located on the campus of Stanford University. As the Chief of Police in the cities of San Jose and Kansas City, he was speaking from first hand experience when he said "police are indoctrinated to hate drug users and see them as the enemy." His Libertarian philosophy was evident when he explained, "in the first 140 years of our country, you could ingest any drug. I want to restore the freedom of those first 140 years." His understanding that the War On Drugs was more than just politics was made clear by his statement that "the drug war is a holy war and in a holy war you don't have to win - you just keep fighting." A panel of industrial hemp producers and hemp-product manufacturers discussed the many uses of hemp and noted that many countries, including our neighbor to the north, allow its farmers a significant cash crop by allowing them to cultivate and harvest industrial hemp. David Frankel, lawyer and industrial hemp activist decried how the U.S. Justice Department is pulling the rug out from under this fledging industry by "creating legal technicalities to criminalize people." Always crowded throughout the conference, the hotel's cavernous ballroom was filled with a capacity exceeding standing room only crowd anxious to hear Bill Maher, host of ABC's controversial program Politically Incorrect. A long-time advocate for ending marijuana prohibition, Maher called for "the vast silent majority" of pot smokers to awaken the public and insisting on a new attitude when he noted that "pot people are tolerant and open minded. We should be intolerant." Alluding to the on-going scandal of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Maher protested that hundreds of thousands of pot smokers are in jail, but "no cop ever kicked in a rectory door." Not holding back, Maher exclaimed that he "can't forgive Bush and Gore for their hypocrisy." Embarrassed by his colleagues who toke but don't help, he deadpanned that "I don't want to mention any names, like Harrison Ford and Ted Turner," as he lashed out at the rich and famous for their refusal to stand up and end their own personal hypocrisy. Racing up to a thundering finish, the audience rose to its feet cheering as Maher declared "unless people start dying, it won't become legal, so I volunteer to be the first victim. Somebody kill me with pot tonight." Appropriately following Maher was a panel entitled "Growing Your Own Medicine" and featured expert marijuana cultivators. Although hosting such a panel could bring the IRS down on NORML, Anthony Feldstein of NORML's Legal Committee outlined the legal issues surrounding marijuana cultivation with special emphasis on California's Proposition 215. Focusing on indoor cultivation, Chris Conrad, Bobby B. and Kyle Kushman discussed cultivation, costs and camouflage. The panel on "Future Leaders" was an appropriate ending panel. Kris Krane, NORML's national chapter coordinator proclaimed "ending the drug war is this generation's new anti-war movement," and then presented students and youth leaders from Florida to Washington to prove it. In addition to calling for an end to marijuana prohibition, the panelists describing themselves as "the DARE generation" and "the Turn In Your Parents Generation" called for an end to denying students financial aid because of prior drug convictions, an end to student drug testing and a boycott of companies that engage in drug testing. Taking a view towards all of society, LeeAnn Ilminen from the Univeristy of Minnesota in St. Cloud called for more women to become involved, as "women are the fastest growing segment of non-violent drug offenders in jail." One of the few minority representatives at the conference, African-American civil rights activist Van Jones, challenged the assembled audience and the youthful panelists by declaring "when you end the prohibition of drugs, end the prohibition of jobs, end the prohibition of clean air and water, then you will be the greatest generation." Encapsulating the essence of the conference in his closing remarks, NORML Executive Director Keith Stroups told the cheering, emboldened audience to take these messages home to their families, friends and colleagues. "We are part of the human rights movement. We must come out of the closet. We will have zero tolerance towards those who want to arrest marijuana smokers. And foremost, this is a fight about personal freedom." Source: Desert Post Weekly, The (Cathedral City, CA)Author: Lanny Swerdlow, Desert Post WeeklyPublished: June 20, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Desert Post WeeklyContact: mdecrini palmspri.gannett.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:A Potshot at Mayor:'s Ad Campaign Pictures: Advocates Cheer on Hallinan : Conference Video: Conference Photos: Pioneer - Ethan Russo M.D.: Conference 2002 - Daniel Forbes: of Cannabis Therapeutics: 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on July 05, 2002 at 11:09:43 PT
NORML Press Release for July 3, 2002
U.N. Report Says Global Marijuana Use, Trafficking Up Sharply In Recent Years 147 Million Use Pot Regularly Despite Illegality, Report Says
New York, NY: Pot use is on the rise in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Oceania, while trafficking in marijuana has risen dramatically worldwide, according to a recent report issued by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCP).
There has been "a significant increase" in marijuana trafficking in "every region of the world" since 1999, the report states. "This [increase] is commensurate with the global increase in cannabis use."
The report claims that global seizures of marijuana have risen some 50 percent since 1998, and now total an estimated 4,500 metric tons annually. More than half of all the marijuana seized worldwide was confiscated in North America - primarily Mexico - and nearly one-quarter was seized in Southern Africa. Only five percent of the marijuana seized worldwide was confiscated in the United States, the report said.
Authors of the report noted that cannabis remains the most widely consumed illicit drug in the world, and estimated that 147 million people are regular users of the drug. According to the report, the countries with greatest percentage of marijuana users were Papua New Guinea (29.5 percent), Micronesia (29.1 percent), Ghana (21.5 percent), St. Vincent Grenadines (18.6 percent) and South Africa (18.4 percent).
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751. An online version of the UNDCP report is available at:
State Task Force To Draw Legal Distinctions Between Medicinal And Recreational Pot Use
Montpelier, VT: Governor Howard Dean (D) has approved legislation establishing the formation of a state task force to determine how the Vermont General Assembly can implement legal protections for patients who use marijuana medicinally. The General Assembly sought to establish the task force after the House and Senate could not reach an agreement regarding whether to legalize medicinal pot or establish an affirmative defense for medical marijuana patients. Nine states have passed legislation since 1996 legalizing the use of medical pot by qualified patients.
The expressed purpose of Vermont's task force is to "investigate and assess options for legal protections which would allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana without facing criminal prosecution under Vermont law." By establishing the committee, the Vermont legislature recognizes that "state law should make a distinction between the medical and non-medical use of marijuana."
The task force, which will be comprised primarily of health officials and patient representatives, is scheduled to report its findings to the governor and the General Assembly by January 15, 2003. In the meantime, state prosecutors have been asked by the Assembly to halt prosecutions for pot possession against anyone who is using the drug to treat symptoms of a serious illness.
Representative David Zuckerman (Progressive Party - Burlington), who sponsored legislation this spring to legalize the cultivation and use of medical marijuana, called the task force's formation a "step in the right direction." Although Zuckerman's proposal successfully passed the House, it was tabled by the Senate, which backed an alternative bill establishing an affirmative defense for patients who possessed up to one ounce of medical marijuana.
Zuckerman speculates that the committee's recommendation will encourage the General Assembly to pass substantive medical marijuana legislation next year. "I hope [that the task force] comes to the speedy conclusion that science has already shown: that marijuana has some very beneficial uses for certain types of illnesses and symptoms. The next year we can cut through the politics and do what is right for all Vermonters."
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.
Scotland, U.K. Hospitals To Prescribe Medical Marijuana Spray In Patients Trials
Glasgow, Scotland: Doctors in Scotland's largest hospital and eight others around Britain will begin offering seriously ill patients medical marijuana.
Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and other illnesses associated with chronic pain will be able to receive the non-synthetic medicinal marijuana extracts for the first time ever as part of an expansive Phase III trial of the drug by the London-based company, GW Pharmaceuticals. Approximately 1,000 patients are expected to participate in the trial, according to a news report in The Scotsman newspaper.
Patients in the trial will not smoke cannabis, but will instead administer the extracts sublingually. Patients will also have the option to use the synthesized oral pill form of the drug known as Dronabinol.
In previous Phase II trials performed by GW, nearly 80 percent of patients sustained "clinically significant therapeutic benefit" from medicinal cannabis extracts - including relief from pain, bladder-related symptoms and tremor, as well as a 50 percent average reduction in their use of opiates.
Speaking in May at the Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, GW Pharmaceuticals President Geoffrey Guy speculated that cannabis-based medicines could receive British regulatory approval by as early as fall 2003.
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Keith Stroup of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Additional information on GW Pharmaceuticals clinical patient trials is available at:
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Comment #7 posted by Lehder on June 22, 2002 at 06:23:03 PT
HEY mayan, I'm glad you're keeping up with all the developments surrounding Bush & Co.'s culpability for 9/11 and posting links. You make it easy for me to keep up.We knew that the war on drugs and the war on terror were inseparable - just two faces of the same many-headed and boundless Avarice - long before Bush, Walters and Hutchinson instructed that we ourselves were the moneymen behind the terrorists. (That was a really big miscalculation, Shitheads.)I SAY THE TRUTH IS STRAIGHT
YEAH YEAH So thanks for the link to the smirkingchimp article. It reports that the interpretation of 9/11 that several of us here share now has a cool acronym that will make it accessible to all Americans: Let It Happen On Purpose, LIHOP. Now as soon as an old Hendrix tune is drafted to make a little jingle for it, the truth will be unstoppable.WELL I ASKED MY FRIEND 
COMIN' FROM? The so-called investigation into 9/11 is being held in secret sessions in a sound-proof facility in Washington DC, the evidentiary documents are classified, the testimony will be classified and unavailable to the public, and the final report and conclusions will be stamped SECRET.HE JUST COUGHED AND
MIGHT SNOW SOME But they won't get away with it. The 7-billion $ law suit is good news, and I can't wait for the charges to advance from civil to criminal. SO I STOOD ON MY HORSE'S
DOWN? Because when the media are finally compelled by the sheer magnitude of the story to broadcast a little of the truth, and when all can see how thoroughly criminalized the government has become, then the drug war will end too. But it won't end as an isolated issue, and it can't end without a thorough sweeping out of Washington DC.LOOK AT THE SKY TURN A
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Comment #6 posted by el_toonces on June 22, 2002 at 03:35:43 PT:
Great conference; late summary....
It's actually kind of nice to have this summary appearing over two months post-conference, as it helps to keep the momentum going. Thanks, FoM!
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Comment #5 posted by Nuevo Mexican on June 21, 2002 at 22:43:54 PT
Great links mayan!
Too much work to make my usual contributions, but appreciate the dot=connecting! This is a great article for everyone here to digest, and prognosticate on!
All Along The Watchtower By William Rivers Pitt,
 t r u t h o u tStanley Hilton, a San Francisco attorney and former aide to Senator Bob Dole, filed a $7 billion lawsuit in U.S. District Court on June 3rd. The class-action suit names ten defendants, among whom are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Norman Mineta.
Read the article at:
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Comment #4 posted by Bounce to the Ounce on June 21, 2002 at 21:48:29 PT
Retraction...I'm sorry
I apollogize mayan. I just had a bad day.
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Comment #3 posted by Bounce to the Ounce on June 21, 2002 at 21:45:00 PT
Can we please stop with the conspiracy theories
and talk about the subject at hand?
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on June 21, 2002 at 18:32:01 PT
Fighter Jets ‘Too Late to Protect the White House’:
("See, this proves we couldn't have done anything to prevent 9-11 and all those traitors who think the government let it happen are, well, traitors. Golly gee whillikers, maybe if you give us MORE money we might be able to protect the nation, but as it is, we're all just sitting ducks for those darned terrorists, so you better do as daddy Bush tells you!") Airforce Response: Defenses Stood Down On 911
AFTER ATC Alerts Given: Here's more on the unscrambled fighters: CHENEY'S COVER STORY: Bush in the Open: Pilot Answers 9/11 Questions 
JCS General Myers Wouldn't: 
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on June 21, 2002 at 17:53:23 PT
Stand and Demand(a Thorough Investigation of 9-11!!!)
Citizens For Legitimate Government: Sept 11th - Unanswered Questions - Deception: The Missing Link behind 9-11 - the Bush administration uses terrorist threats to its advantage:
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