Newsbriefs 10/22/99

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Bush "Just Says Yes" to State's Rights on Medical Marijuana

Governor George Bush announced this week that although he does not support the legalization of marijuana for medical use, he supports a state's right to decide to allow the medical use of marijuana. President Clinton later told reporters he agrees with Bush's statement, commenting that the Republicans have gone too far in trying to block the medical marijuana initiative in Washington, DC. Although Bush did not directly comment on the situation in the District, his statement comes days after Clinton vetoed the District's $4.7 million budget, in part because of a provision to overturn the medical marijuana law.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Chuck Thomas praised Bush's remarks. "I would hope he would be an example for Republicans in Congress. His position of opposing marijuana, but saying states should decide, is unique among presidential contenders," Thomas said.

Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Harrelson Hemp Case

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of placing hemp in the same category as marijuana this week at the University of Louisville's Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Actor Woody Harrelson, whose attorney presented the case, was not present during the hearings. Harrelson was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession three years ago after planting four hemp seeds in Lee County, Kentucky. Harrelson won the case in the district court and then again in the circuit court under the argument that the state's statue that bans hemp along with marijuana is too broad and arbitrary. The case was passed to the Supreme Court after the appeals court refused to decide the statute's constitutionality.

Among those who spoke at the hearing was a Kentucky State Police officer who argued that it would be impossible to distinguish hemp plants from marijuana plants, making the enforcement of the state's marijuana laws too difficult. But Justice William Copper responded by asking, "Should we criminalize powdered sugar because it looks like cocaine?" Those arguing in favor of Harrelson cited the potential advantages of legalizing hemp to Kentucky Farmers. One justice questioned the relevancy of hemp's commercial uses to the argument. The justices have no timetable to issue an opinion.

Incoming Victoria (Australia) Premier to Open Safe-Injecting Rooms

Steve Bracks, Victoria's new Premier, says that he will open safe-injecting rooms in the state "as soon as possible." The rooms, where IV drug users can inject under medical supervision, will function for an eighteen-month trial period. The state, says Brack, "won't do anything else until these trials are over." Brack also said that the Labor Party's new policy to deal with the rising number of overdose deaths would include more police and more treatment.

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Issue #113, 10/22/99 California Reports Record Percentage of Drug Prisoners: One in Eight Imprisoned for Simple Possession of Drugs | Marijuana Arrests Stay at Record-High Level: FBI Reports 682,885 Marijuana Arrests in 1998, 88% for Possession | NORML Foundation Releases Report Detailing European Marijuana Policies | Maine Sheriff Endorses Medical Marijuana | Just Say Know: New Directions in Drug Education -- Conference in SF Next Week | Safety First: Reality-Based Drug Education Booklet Published by The Lindesmith Center | Newsbriefs | San Francisco Beats New York at Crime Reduction | Newsbriefs | Publication Suspended of New Book Claiming George W. Bush Arrested for Cocaine in '72 | Elizabeth Dole Drops Out of Race | Editorial: Whose life is it anyway?
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