Newsbriefs 7/31/98

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  • Medical marijuana initiatives are heading to the ballot this November in several states, including Alaska, Oregon, and Washington State. Notices on initiatives in Colorado, Nevada and Washington, DC are pending. An initiative in Maine is expected to be on the ballot in Nov. 1999. Petitioning is currently underway for a medical marijuana initiative in Florida (see http://www.medicalrights.org).
  • Jeb Bush, the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, has drawn up a 19-page plan to escalate the War on Drugs. Part of Bush's plan is to deny scholarships to people who use drugs. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel, but we're going to do something revolutionary," Bush pledged to the Miami Herald. "There has to be a recognition that being a good citizen means remaining drug free," commented Bush, who confesses that he tried marijuana when he was 17. Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay criticized the withholding of scholarships as "very harsh treatment," according to MacKay spokesperson Robin Rorapaugh, who added that "Drug use, for children, is a problem, but taking away their tools for education and becoming better citizens does not solve it," and that MacKay "has never experimented with illegal drugs."
  • Dallas, Texas schools are looking into voluntary drug testing for students. The drug test would be conducted only after parents request it. In the Dallas system, the school and the parents will receive copies of the results of the tests. Trustee Ron Price told the Dallas Morning News, "If you mail results to parents, they may never get to the parents' hands. If the school district has the information, they can assist the parents in helping the child."
  • Drug-related crime is on the rise in Russia. Russia has experienced a 25% rise during the 1st half of 1998, compared to the same time last year. About 66,000 drug-related crimes were committed between January and June. The number of drug related HIV cases is also going up. More than two million people in Russia use drugs, a figure Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov expects to double by the year 2000.
  • Two U.S pilots died in a plane crash while helping with Columbia's drug crop eradication efforts. The plane went down on Monday about 175 miles southwest of the capital, Bogota. The U.S pilots were part of a program to train Colombian pilots to fumigate drug crops. * In Arizona today, sponsors of Proposition 300, an initiative seeking to restore the state's medical marijuana law, are going to court to force the state Legislative Council to remove references to the medicalization of "heroin, LSD, and PCP" from its official description of the initiative, which is set to be published next week. Passage of Prop 300 would overturn HB 2518, a bill passed by state lawmakers in 1997 which gutted Proposition 200, the medical marijuana initiative that had passed by a 64-36% margin in a 1996 referendum. Prop 300's sponsors, who call themselves "The People Have Spoken," argue that the official description of Prop 200, which sought to legalize the medical use of marijuana and other Schedule One substances, made no such explicit references to hard drugs. Prop 300 lobbyist Jack LaSota told the Arizona Daily Star that the Legislative Council, like opponents of Prop. 200 in 1996, wants to emphasize heroin, LSD, and PCP because of all Schedule One substances they are the "those few most likely to inflame the senses of some voters." State legislators insist they are only trying to insure that voters understand that marijuana is not the only substance whose legality would be affected by Prop 300.
  • A group of young children in Pompano Beach, Florida were apprehended Wednesday by police after they were caught playing "dope dealer," trading leaves for baggies of plastic "crack" and pseudo-marijuana. The children, who live in a neighborhood where real drug sales are common, ranged in age from 4 to 11. They received a lecture from the county sheriff's lieutenant, who later told the Miami Herald that the incident had ruined his day. "This is what they see every day," he said.
  • 165 medical marijuana patients have joined forces with the Hirsch and Caplan Public Interest Law firm in Philadelphia to launch a class-action lawsuit to force the government's hand on medical marijuana. Attorney Lawrence Elliot Hirsch claims that his case will show that the federal government's ban on marijuana in 1937 violates the constitutional rights of patients.
  • An alleged drug dealer on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts has vowed to randomly kill US citizens on the island if the extradition proceedings against him are successful. 37 year-old Charles Miller, known as "Little Nut," is wanted in Florida on charges of cocaine trafficking, and is reputed to have financed the election of the current Prime Minister there. More than 250 American citizens attend a veterinary college located on the island.
  • -- END --
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    Issue #52, 7/31/98 NJ NEP Workers' Conviction Upheld in Appeals Court | Oakland City Council Votes to Shield Local Cannabis Dispensary from Federal Prosecution Controversy Over Searches | DOJ Asks for Dismissal of Hemp Suit | Feds Indict Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick and Others, Alleging Vast Conspiracy to Supply Medical Marijuana | Peaceful Prison Protest Earns Solitary Confinement | Action Request: The Tax Stamp Controversy | New Zealand Health Ministry: Pot Poses No Serious Risk | Newsbriefs | Link of the Week | A Campaign for Substance Awareness | Debating Points | Office of National Drug Control Policy Hard at Work | Editorial: The Pompano Beach Twelve
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