NORML's News Bulletin - March 1, 2001 

  NORML's News Bulletin - March 1, 2001 

Posted by FoM on March 01, 2001 at 16:58:51 PT
Medical Marijuana Legislation Advances in States 
Source: NORML 

Annapolis, MD: NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup testified before the Maryland House and Senate this week in support of legislation that would allow qualified patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes.  "While NORML's ultimate goal is to amend federal law so physicians may prescribe marijuana legally, we whole-heartedly support the efforts of states like Maryland to protect its most vulnerable citizens - the seriously ill and dying - as best it can under state law," Stroup said. 
"The scientific and historical record support the use of marijuana as a medicine, and many patients find it to be the most effective way they can alleviate their pain and suffering. We must not in good conscious deny them that medication."  Maryland Senate Bill 705, introduced by Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's County), is similar to laws recently passed in nine states which exempt medical marijuana patients and their caregivers from state arrest and criminal prosecution. The proposal would also establish a state-run patient registry that would issue identification cards to qualifying patients. Kelly Paige, manager of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program - that state's confidential patient registry - testified that their system is working as voters intended and does not conflict with federal law. "With a larger than expected patient registration and physician participation, and with no wide-scale criminal abuses, it would be safe to deem the program quite successful," she said. " We are pleased that Oregon's initiative and registration system are serving as models for other states."  While Stroup applauded the legislature's decision to hold hearings on the use of medicinal marijuana, he admitted that both S.B. 705 and its companion bill, H.B. 940, introduced by Del. Donald Murphy (R-Baltimore County) and 28 co-sponsors, face an uphill battle. "We've clearly gained support in the House, but face a significant hurdle in the Senate," Stroup said, noting that Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Walter Baker (D-Cecil County) warned colleagues that "this bill isn't going anywhere."  Maryland's proposal was one of several medical marijuana bills debated in recent days. Last week, a pair of New Mexico bills legalizing the possession of marijuana for medical purposes passed committees in the House and Senate with bi-partisan support. Both bills now await action before their house's respective judiciary committees.  Texas lawmakers also debated legislation this week that would allow qualified medical marijuana patients an "affirmative defense of medical necessity" against state criminal prosecution. House Bill 513, introduced by Rep. Terry Keel (R-Austin), a sheriff and former prosecutor, is the first of its kind to be debated by the legislature. Texas NORML State Coordinator Rick D. Day testified in support of bill, and said that he anticipates the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will approve it next week. "The wording of the bill avoids conflict with federal law, and the background of the sponsor cuts through the skepticism of individuals in law enforcement," he said.  Earlier this week, legislators in Massachusetts and Vermont introduced proposals to aid medical marijuana patients. In Massachusetts, lawmakers have endorsed a pair of proposals to extend legal protections to patients who possess and/or cultivate medical marijuana to treat a debilitating illness. In Vermont, Rep. Fred Maslack (R-Poultney), is leading a bi-partisan coalition of more than 20 lawmakers in support H.B. 364, which seeks to exempt medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution under state law, as well as establish a state-sanctioned, non-profit corporation to distribute medical marijuana.  For more information on these bills and other pending marijuana-law reform legislation, visit: Texas Find an Unlikely Ally of Marijuana Bill Debates Medicinal-Marijuana Ex-Sheriff Backs Medical Marijuana Bill Marijuana Draws Fire Lawmakers Want Pot Legalized for Sick People Swirls Over Marijuana as Medicine Medical Marijuana Archives to Repeal Financial Aid Ban for Marijuana Smokers, Other Drug Offenders Introduced in Congress:  Washington, DC: Congressman Barney Frank reintroduced legislation yesterday to repeal federal provisions that currently ban federal financial aid to students who have been convicted of any federal or state drug offense, including smoking marijuana.  "Someone who commits murder or armed robbery is not automatically barred from financial aid eligibility," Frank said, "but if you have even one non-violent drug conviction you can't get any aid for a year. Authorities previously had the discretion to bar aid to people based on the severity of their crimes and whether they are taking steps to rehabilitate themselves. My bill would simply restore that discretion."  Twenty-three co-sponsors have signed on to Frank's bill, and more than 70 civil and national education groups have endorsed it. Proponents include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and NORML.  "All students caught using or selling drugs already pay a penalty through the local, state or federal law enforcement system," said co-sponsor George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee."But only low-income students will face a double penalty of being denied financial aid. That is unfair. Denying students access to financial aid on top of that punishment will only undermine our national goal of creating hope and opportunity for our youth through a quality education."  According to the Department of Education statistics, more than 8,100 students were denied aid during the 2000-2001 school year because of the ban, which became part of the Higher Education Act in 1998, but only took effect last July.  For more information, please contact R. Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. To send a letter to your member of Congress in support of Frank's bill, visit:'s News Bulletin Index Likely To Enforce Drug Rule in Financial Aid Would Allow Education Aid Rise Over Anti-Drug Law That Denies Loans NORML's News Bulletin - February 22, 2001's News Bulletin - February 16, 2001 NORML Archives 

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Comment #3 posted by dddd on March 05, 2001 at 02:37:45 PT
what I think
This Romley guy,is exactly what the Shrub and his advisors are going to be looking for.They know that they must find someone who SEEMS to have a balanced overall view.They need a new showdog who will appear to carefully balance the administrations drugpolicy.....The ideal canidate,will be one who will walk the fine line between the masses whoare becoming aware,and outspoken about the bizzarre nature of the drug war,those of uswho already know about the WoDs scandal,,and the hellfire and brimstone antis,who wantanyone who is charged with meth,or exstacy,in the electric chair,or incarcerated for life.Here's another of my uninvited predictions;The job will be filled with someone much like Romley.The appointment will be keenly orchestrated and designed with a flurry of press releases that will tell of a new,,kinder,more balanced czar.They will probably hire the same ad firm that makes Paxil commercialsto correctly spin the new czar,and his wise "new" approach....The hopeful bullshit will beflying throughout the airwaves in a major campaign,with the typical trojan horse brown-nosefor the new group of concerned citizens who saw Traffic.....It will indeed,be somewhat of atrojan horse,"bait and switch",maneuver.The drug war machine will roll on with the scandalousmisinformation,and absurd fervor,,in fact it will get worse in many ways,with the exceptionof MMJ,which will be slightly,and reluctantly reformed.The whole WoDs issue will continue tooccupy the back burner,,,the thing in the closet.As far as any real discussion from the regimegoes,it will remain clouded with just enough false hope to keep the angry,and concerned populacein a relative state of calm......To summarize my typically pessimistic ramble,,,anyone who thinksthat major reforms are likely,or that the new czar will not be a puppet of the Evil Empire,,is ahopeful dreamer,and we need all the hopeful dreamers we can get,,,even if the brutal spectreof reality eventually crushes their dreams and hopes........This is a fight.....Never give up!...........................................dddd"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal" --Martin Luther King, jr"PARANOIA is when you have all the facts"william burroughs"You`ll miss 100% of all the shots you don`t take."--Wayne Gretsky"Free your mind, and your ass will follow."-George Clinton
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 04, 2001 at 21:07:25 PT:
Two News Briefs From The Washington Post
Something's Unusual at NORMLSource: Washington Post (DC) Author: Al KamenPublished: Monday, March 5, 2001; Page A17 Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Thimmesch, the conservative political operative and communications consultant who worked in the Reagan White House and for Rep. Steve Largent (R-Calif.), among others, has closed up his consulting shop and become communications director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. (Read that sentence again.)Been smoking something? No, says Thimmesch: "I still believe in GOP causes, but I have always been personally opposed to the so-called 'War on Drugs.' " It's a libertarian-type thing.But NORML? Thimmesch says he's already feeling comfortable in his new job. Said Thimmesch: "Well, at least I knew I would pass their drug testing policy."Searching for a Drug Czar:Still no word on a Bush drug czar (officially director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy), but the White House is working hard on it. For example, Maricopa county attorney Rick Romley is said to have met the week before last with White House officials for about 90 minutes.Though not a household name, Romley is known in drug control circles for aggressively prosecuting methamphetamine lab operators and for pushing first-time, nonviolent drug users away from criminal trials and into court-supervised treatment programs.The drug czar short list also apparently still includes, among others, former representative Bill McCollum (R-Fla.); Florida drug control policy director James McDonough, who also served as strategy chief for Clinton drug czar Barry McCaffrey; Family Research Council vice president Robert Maginnis; and Brent Coles, mayor of Boise, Idaho.
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Comment #1 posted by zenarch on March 01, 2001 at 18:59:00 PT
A senseless law!!!
The federal government IMO, owes reparations to the 8100 people denied aid.
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