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New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee in 14-3 Vote (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           MARCH 9, 2011

Medical Marijuana Bill Passes House Committee in 14-3 Vote

CONTACT: Kirk McNeil, NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy …(603) 845-6279

CONCORD – The House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee brought seriously ill Granite Staters closer to relief today with a 14-3 “ought to pass” vote on a bill to allow the medical use of marijuana. H.B. 442, which creates a narrow exception in New Hampshire law for people with certain qualifying conditions to use marijuana to treat their conditions with a doctor’s recommendation, will now move on to the full House for a vote.

Introduced by Rep. Evalyn Merrick (D-), herself a cancer survivor, the bill has 5 Republican cosponsors, including the chair of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee, Rep. John Reagan (R-Deerfield).  HB 442 also enjoys strong support among voters; a 2008 Mason-Dixon poll showed that 71% of New Hampshire voters are in favor of allowing the use of medical marijuana, with only 21% opposed.

“Today’s vote once again shows that when legislators learn the facts about medical marijuana, they are motivated to allow its use by seriously ill patients,” explained Kirk McNeil, executive director for the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

The bill would create a tightly regulated ID system for all patients, as well as establish state-licensed alternative treatment centers to provide safe access to medical marijuana. It also includes strict rules regarding public use, impairment, and driving under the influence.

The General Court approved a medical marijuana bill in 2009, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch. The House voted by more than two-thirds to override the veto, but the effort in the Senate fell two votes short. Washington, D.C. and fifteen other states, including Vermont and Maine, have enacted laws protecting patients whose doctors recommend medical marijuana.

Location: 
NH
United States

Leading Hemp Advocacy Groups Applaud Introduction of California Hemp Farming Bill SB 676 (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2011

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or [email protected]

California Businesses and Farmers Await Passage of New Bill to Allow Commercial Farming of Industrial Hemp

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leading hemp advocacy organizations Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association are applauding the introduction two weeks ago of SB 676 in support of hemp farming in the state of California. The bill clarifies that industrial hemp is separate and distinct from forms of Cannabis used to produce marijuana and if passed will allow commercial farming of industrial hemp, which occurred in the state up until shortly after World War II. Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no value as a recreational drug.

SB 676 was introduced on Friday, February 18th by state Senator Mark Leno. Senator Leno believes that hemp farming will help revitalize California's economy, "The time is long over due for California farmers to be allowed to grow this sustainable and profitable crop once again. The passage of SB 676 will create new jobs and economic opportunities for many farmers and manufacturers throughout the state."

A variety of products made from industrial hemp, including healthy food and natural body care products as well as eco-friendly clothing, are made in California. "There are over 50 member businesses of the Hemp Industries Association

(HIA) that make or sell hemp products in the state of California alone that could benefit from an in-state source of hemp seed, fiber and oil," says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the HIA. "Because of an outdated federal policy these businesses are forced to import millions of dollars of industrial hemp from Canada, China and Europe."

"Dr. Bronner's currently purchases twenty tons of hemp oil each year from Canada. We look forward to the day that we can meet our supply needs from hemp produced right here in our home state," says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps of Escondido.  

To date, 17 states have passed pro-hemp laws or resolutions, including the California Assembly in 1999, when it passed a resolution declaring that "the Legislature should consider action to revise the legal status of industrial hemp to allow for its growth in California as an agricultural and industrial crop."

SB 676 would only allow farmers to produce and enter into the marketplace the parts of the industrial hemp plant already legal to import under state and federal law: its seed, oil, fiber and woody core. "SB 676 would not conflict with federal law or interfere with the enforcement of marijuana laws," explains Patrick Goggin, California Legal Counsel for Vote Hemp.  

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.  More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com and www.TheHIA.org.

Location: 
CA
United States

Polls Show Voters in Michigan and Montana Still Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            February 23, 2011

Polls Show Voters in Michigan and Montana Still Overwhelmingly Support Medical Marijuana

Montana voters reject legislative push for repeal, favor regulation

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager ………………………. (202) 905-2031 or [email protected]

Amid a push in Montana to repeal the state’s medical marijuana law and litigation related to some aspects of Michigan’s law, new polls show that voters in both states still overwhelmingly support allowing patients to use medical marijuana with doctors’ recommendations. In Montana on Monday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the state’s voter-enacted law. Meanwhile, the state’s Senate is considering legislation to add regulations to the distribution and cultivation of marijuana in the state. These poll results show that voters want to work with their state legislatures to ensure that access to medical marijuana is protected and any problems that arise are addressed in a rational manner through regulation.

A recent poll conducted by Marketing Resource Group, Inc. revealed that a strong majority of Michigan voters still support the medical marijuana law they approved in November 2008. When asked if they would vote for the law again today, 61% responded that they would. This level of support is nearly identical to the percentage by which the initiative was voted into law, and shows that Michiganders recognize the benefits their medical marijuana program has for sick and dying people in their state.

A statewide poll conducted by Public Policy Polling last weekend found that a sizeable majority of adult Montanans -- 63% -- still supports allowing medical marijuana, and most would support strict new regulations. But, in stark contrast, only 20% support the legislature repealing medical marijuana. An overwhelming 76% believe the Legislature should either adopt new regulations or leave the law unchanged entirely. In 2004, 62% of Montana voters enacted their state’s medical marijuana law.

“These polls show that voters stand firmly behind the compassionate policies they enacted at the ballot box,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, “Since Montana and Michigan’s laws were enacted, federal policy has improved and states have found better ways to provide patients access and address community concerns. Montana and Michigan should follow the lead of six states and D.C., by providing for well regulated dispensary systems.”

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Statewide Poll Shows 72% of Maryland Voters Support Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    FEBRUARY 23, 2011

 

STATEWIDE POLL SHOWS 72% OF MARYLAND VOTERS SUPPORT MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Big numbers bolster case for General Assembly to finally pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, MPP communications manager……………..202-905-2031 or [email protected]

            A new poll shows broad, overwhelming support for a bill that would make Maryland the 16th state to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The survey informed voters of a bill pending in the legislature that would allow patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer, debilitating pain, and other serious conditions to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval. When asked if they supported the bill, 72% said yes, with just 21% opposed and 7% undecided.

            “I’m certainly pleased by the poll, but frankly, these numbers don’t surprise me,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Dan Morhaim, the only licensed physician in the General Assembly. “There’s a strong consensus among medical and scientific professionals that marijuana can relieve the suffering of those with certain serious illnesses, and there’s nothing controversial about relieving suffering. That’s what this bill is about.”

            Details of the poll showed strong support for medical marijuana across all age, partisan, and geographic lines. Older voters were very supportive of the proposal: 77% among 50-64 year olds and 69% among those 65 and older. Democrats were more likely to support the bill, but Republican support was still very strong at more than 2:1. And voters favored the legislation throughout the state, with even 62% of those in conservative, western Maryland in support.

            A similar bill was passed in the Senate last year, 35-12, but stalled in the House. A key question this year is whether House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Vallario will allow committee members to vote on the proposal. The bill would need to be approved by his committee before it could head to the House floor where it would almost certainly be approved.

“I asked my doctor about this and she said marijuana can help me, so I certainly hope he supports the bill,” said Chris Idol, a Cumberland resident with a rare movement disorder. “But regardless, all I really ask is that he give patients the fair up-or-down vote we deserve.”

The Judiciary Committee, along with the Health and Government Operations Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Monday, February 28 at 1:00 p.m. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear the bill on Thursday, March 3.

The poll, conducted February 18-20 by Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,076 registered voters and is available for download at http://www.mpp.org/states/maryland/2011-poll.html

With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
MD
United States

Former Baltimore Narcotics Cop Testifies for Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in Maryland; Tuesday Hearing on Lowering Marijuana Penalty to $100 Fine (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2011

CONTACT: Tom Angell at (202) 557-4979 or [email protected]

Former Baltimore Narcotics Cop Testifies for Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in Maryland; Tuesday Hearing on Lowering Marijuana Penalty to $100 Fine

 

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- A former Baltimore narcotics cop will testify before a Maryland House of Delegates committee today in favor of a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession. The bill, HB 606, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee at 1:00 PM EST in Room 100.

Neill Franklin, who did narcotics work with both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department over a 34-year career, will testify that, "The current laws force police officers in Maryland to waste hour after hour processing marijuana possession arrests. Can you imagine how many more burglaries, rapes and murders we could solve if we put these wasted man-hours toward good use? Marijuana prohibition constitutes a serious threat to public safety."

Franklin is executive director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of police officers, judges, corrections officials, border agents and other criminal justice professionals who have witnessed the failures of the so-called "war on drugs" firsthand.

The Maryland bill will lower the penalty for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. In addition to Del. Anderson, HB 606 has bipartisan support from 20 co-sponsors and has been officially endorsed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.

Maryland spends over $236 million enforcing its marijuana laws every year, according to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.

Del. Michael Smigiel (R-Cecil County), a co-sponsor of the decriminalization bill, says that many cops are privately approaching him in support of the idea. "Many police who come before the judiciary say they don't want to have to spend all that time taking someone in for less than an ounce, booking them and going through that whole process, when there are other people out there that they could be spending their time on that are committing serious crimes," he recently told WBAL-TV.

The full text of HB 606 and other information can be found at http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/HB0606.htm

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Videos of LEAP cops: http://YouTube.com/CopsSayLegalizeDrugs
LEAP on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CopsSayLegalize
LEAP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CopsSayLegalizeDrugs

Location: 
Annapolis, MD
United States

Medical Marijuana Patient Advocates Hold First-of-Its-Kind Virtual Nationwide Conference (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2011

Contact: Kris Hermes at 510-251-1856 or [email protected]


Medical Marijuana Patient Advocates Hold First-of-Its-Kind Virtual Nationwide Conference

Hundreds of activists in more than 20 cities will engage in skills-building and strategic planning

Oakland, CA -- As the issue of medical marijuana heats up across the country, leading patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will hold a two-day interactive, virtual "Boot Camp" February 19-20 to train hundreds of U.S.-based activists in skills-building and strategic planning.

This first of its kind nationwide conference on medical marijuana will be conducted in more than 20 cities in 9 states, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.

ASA has held numerous trainings over its 9-year history, but this will be the group's first decentralized virtual conference in an attempt to better reach patient advocates, building greater breadth and depth in the medical marijuana movement. "I think it¹s really important for people to understand that they are the power," said U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) in a promotional video for the conference. "Government is lent to us and you hold the power toŠchange the laws of this land," continued Representative Farr.

"If you want to change things, all you have to do is get involved."

Conference participants will be trained in outreach and recruitment, coalition building, leadership development, lobbying public officials, organizing protests and rallies, and working with the media. Once trained, patient advocates will have greater skills with which to develop strategies for protecting and expanding patients¹ rights, as well as adopting medical marijuana policies in states without such laws. "Activists across the country are clamoring for the skills to bring about change at the local and federal level," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This historic conference is an attempt to satisfy that demand and to build a stronger medical marijuana movement in the U.S."

From grappling with local regulatory ordinances to passing new state medical marijuana laws, the work of patient advocates has been challenging and ongoing. Literally hundreds of local governments in medical marijuana states are deliberating land use laws that dictate how patients can cultivate and obtain their medicine. More than a dozen state governments are also currently considering new statewide medical marijuana laws. "'The ASA Activist Boot Camp' will provide patient advocates with the skill-set and road map to address these political challenges," continued Sherer.

As the country's largest grassroots medical marijuana organization with more than 50,000 members in all 50 states, ASA is also using this conference to help push for a meaningful federal policy. Based on a conviction that Americans deserve the right to choose their own form of health care treatment whether they live in California or Florida, ASA is providing activists with the tools to bring about equal rights for all of the country's sickest and most vulnerable citizens.

Further information:

Promotional video clip with U.S. Representative Sam Farr:

http://www.medicalmarijuana411.com/2011/02/10/join-americans-for-safe-access-for-a-national-call-to-action/

ASA Boot Camp flyer:

http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_Boot_Camp.pdf

 ASA Boot Camp registration info:

http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/ActivistBootCamp

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Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10 (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2011

CONTACT: Jacob Hunter at 604.803.4085 or [email protected], or Kirk Tousaw at [email protected]

Beyond Prohibition Foundation Commends Liberal Party of Canada for Opposing Bill S-10

Today the Liberal Party of Canada announced that it would vote down Bill S-10, a cornerstone of the Harper Conservative’s incarceration agenda, which would have imposed mandatory jail sentences on non-violent minor drug offenders. The Beyond Prohibition Foundation commends the Liberal Party for standing up to Mr. Harper’s false “soft on crime” slurs and defeating this dangerous, enormously expensive and ideologically-driven legislation.

“We are extremely pleased that the Liberal Party has made its decision on the basis of evidence,” noted Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Foundation, “This punishment plan would not have reduced crime, nor would it have made Canadian safer from the influence of gangs. In fact, the Foundation has long argued that the evidence is clear that ramping up a war on drugs has the perverse effect of making drugs more available, cheaper and more potent while simultaneously increasing the profitability and violent tendencies of organized criminals. Today the Liberal Party of Canada decided to be smart on crime.”

The legislation had previously been the subject of intense criticism during two rounds of testimony before committees of the Senate and House of Commons. Experts from Canada, the United States and abroad testified that other jurisdictions using mandatory jail terms have worse crime and drug problems than Canada, and that these experiments have been expensive failures. Despite this, the Harper Conservatives have been pushing for the legislation for years.

“The Foundation knew that the Conservatives would not listen to expert advice and, therefore, we made a strategic decision early on to appeal to the Liberal Party,” explained Jacob Hunter, the Foundation’s Policy Director. “We believed that the Liberals would understand that making economically and socially smart decisions with Canadian’s tax dollars would be a political benefit, not a liability. Everyone knew that Mr. Harper would attempt to fool Canadians with ‘soft on crime’ rhetoric but the Foundation believes that our citizens are smarter than that. We are very pleased the Liberal Party agrees.”

Earlier this week, the government refused to tell the House how much its incarceration agenda would cost Canadians. “Mr. Harper tried to use fear to sell Canadians on a multi-billion dollar legislative boondoggle by hiding the costs and falsely describing it as targeting only major criminals.

Instead, it would have almost exclusively punished non-violent small time drug offenders. Now that the legislation appears doomed, we urge all Parliamentarians to conduct a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of drug prohibition. Its time to reject the failed approaches of the past and, instead, to work toward putting criminals out of business by ending the war on drugs,” Tousaw continued.

Location: 
Canada

SF Mayor's Hep C Task Force Recommends Supervised Injection Facilities (Press Release)

For Immediate Release: February 9, 2011                                   

Contact: Laura Thomas at (415) 283-6366 or Tommy McDonald (510) 229-5215

SF Mayor’s Hepatitis C Task Force Issues Recommendations for Fighting Epidemic, Including Supervised Injection Facilities (SIF)

SIF Allow People to Consume Their Drugs with Sterile Equipment in Presence of Medically-Trained Staff; Reduce HIV, Overdose Deaths and Public Drug Use, While Not Increasing Drug Use

SF Elected Officials Need to Embrace Science and Public Health Approach


The San Francisco Mayor’s Hepatitis C Task Force issued its report a few weeks ago, with strong recommendations for how San Francisco can better address the hepatitis C epidemic here. There are an estimated 12,000 people living with hepatitis C in San Francisco, most of whom do not know that they are infected. San Francisco has the opportunity to ensure that everyone knows their risk, knows their status, has access to hepatitis C treatment and support if they need it, and has the tools and information that they need to protect themselves from hepatitis C. One of those tools, as recommended by the Task Force, is a supervised injection site, where people could consume their drugs with sterile equipment in the presence of medicallytrained staff.

“Supervised injection facilities reduce HIV and overdose deaths without increasing drug use,” says Laura Thomas, deputy state director, San Francisco for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This has been done around the world and it has been proven to work effectively.”

Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are operating in many countries around the world. They are not a new idea and the science has shown that they work. Insite, in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been extensively evaluated and has shown that a SIF can reduce public drug use, hepatitis C and HIV risk behaviors, overdoses, and other health problems, while not increasing crime or drug use.

In fact, Insite increased the number of people entering treatment for their problematic drug use. SIFs are a serious and well-researched approach to a significant problem. Politicians who are committed to reducing the harms that drugs create for our communities would be well served by paying attention to the evidence.

“San Francisco has led the way in dealing with HIV. The City needs to take these recommendations seriously and begin to address hepatitis C with the same courage and leadership it has shown for HIV,” Thomas added. “Politics can’t trump science in this case. There are too many lives on the line and here will be a serious price for slow learning curve.

“We need elected officials who are not afraid to do the right thing, and who are willing to put all of the options on the table as we fight the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.”

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate Detained on a Non-Violent Marijuana Charge (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011

CONTACT: ACLU [1] Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; [email protected] [2] Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; [email protected]

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating Of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate By Sheriff’s Deputies

Attack Underscores Need For Systemic Reform And Decrease In Jail’s Population

LOS ANGELES - February 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) today condemned a recent brutal beating by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies of a detainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the county jail system.

The violent attack January 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails.

“We believe Mr. Parker’s beating is not an isolated incident,” said Hector Villagra, incoming Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “Rather, it highlights the rampant violence that continues to plague the county’s jails, and demands court intervention to protect detainees from brutal attacks and retaliation. That the ACLU/SC monitor witnessed a brutal attack in plain sight is alarming and can only lead us to conclude detainees are subject to even greater cruelty when no one is looking.”

The beating was made public Monday in a sworn statement submitted in federal court by Lim, who watched through a glass window as deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered Parker while he was lying motionless on the floor.

“Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag,” Lim says in her statement. “I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”

Lim hit the glass divider hoping to get the deputies’ attention and stop the attack, but the officers continued to punch and taser Parker.

“Mr. Parker was not fighting with the deputies,” Lim says in her statement, adding he “was not trying to kick, hit or otherwise fight with the deputies.”

Yet deputies continued to order him to “stop resisting” and “stop fighting,” while simultaneously punching and kneeing his limp body repeatedly and tasering him multiple times.

The deputies then wrote in a jail log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, in complete contradiction to what the ACLU witnessed.

“This kind of brutal beating is unacceptable,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “We are also very concerned that shortly after the beating the sheriff’s department issued a log report contradicting what witnesses, including our monitor, saw. The report claims Parker was resisting and fighting with deputies. That is blatantly false.”

Parker now faces charges for allegedly assaulting the very deputies who beat him.

Lim’s statement, along with that of another witness to the beating, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion the ACLU filed in November seeking a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

The ACLU first sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff on behalf of all detainees in the county’s jail system in 1975, charging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many remedial orders have been issued over the years in the case, Rutherford v. Block. But the systemic problems plaguing the system have recently become so acute the ACLU in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson to order a new trial in the case based on “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse and inmate suicides” at Men’s Central Jail, another of the system’s facilities. The ACLU contends the problems plaguing the jail system can only be fixed by finding alternatives to incarceration like drug treatment and community-based programs for the low-level, non-violent offenders and detainees with serious mental illnesses that comprise the vast majority of the system’s population, and seeks to prove the jail’s population can be safely, rapidly and radically reduced with existing resources and at great savings to county taxpayers.

A report released by the ACLU in September painted a stark picture of unacceptable levels of violence in the jails, including reports of deputies beating handcuffed detainees, injuring some so badly that they ended up in intensive care. The report also showed retaliation against inmates to be an acute problem. Several prisoners have been severely punished for meeting with representatives of the ACLU, which is the court-appointed monitor of conditions inside L.A.'s county jails.

“The reign of terror we’re uncovering in the Los Angeles County jails is unmatched by any of the hyper-violent prisons and jails across the country we have investigated,” said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “The brutality there is so blatant and routine that the deputies carried out a vicious beating in full view of a court-appointed monitor. The court needs to take immediate action to ensure the protection of prisoners.”

A copy of the ACLU’s sworn statement, as well as that of the beating’s other witness, is available online at:

http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/declarations-esther-lim-and-christopher-brown-regarding-january-24-2011-beating-twi[4]

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Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Egypt Hates Hemp - Man Could Get Death for Importing Hemp Seed Oil (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 4, 2011

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671 or [email protected]

American Health Food Exporter Speaks Out About Month Long Ordeal in Egyptian Jail for Importing Nutritious Hemp Food
Hemp Industry Asks US Department of State to Help Innocent Man in Limbo

WASHINGTON, DC –
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the nation’s leading trade organization working to promote non-drug industrial hemp, learned last week of the plight of Mostafa Soliman, an America citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 40 years and was wrongly imprisoned by Egyptian authorities on December 30, 2010 for importing organic hemp seed oil used in salads, and other healthy recipes.    If convicted, he is potentially facing death by hanging.

After almost a month in jail, Mr. Soliman was finally granted bail as protests raged across Egypt.  Just as he was about to be released on January 28th, his jail  was attacked by protesters and set on fire.  Guards and police fled leaving the prisoners to die in the burning jail, many of whom were crammed in 8 by 8 foot cells with as many as 30 people.  Eventually the protesters entered the jail and smashed the locks on the prisoner’s cells amidst smoke and tear gas, releasing Mr. Soliman and others in a scene that can only be described as dangerously chaotic.

Over the next few days Mr. Soliman along with attorneys in the U.S. working with the HIA asked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to help reissue Mr. Soliman a passport so he can return to the U.S.  However, the embassy has refused to issue the new passport so far for no apparent reason except that he is facing unfounded drug charges in Egypt.

The Egyptian born Mr. Soliman, 62, is owner of Health Harvest, the company which exported the hemp seed oil from Canada and operates in Egypt.  He lives in Aventura, Florida, but was spending time in Egypt to manage the arrival of products that he exports from the U.S. and Canada.

“This is a tragic mistake that could be solved with a simple drug test.  Mr. Soliman is being falsely accused of importing ‘hash oil’ when  in fact it was healthy hemp food,” says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the HIA.  “The HIA and Votehemp.com are launching a campaign to free Mostafa Soliman that will hopefully jump-start action at the U.S. State Department.  We recognize that the unrest in Egypt will make it more difficult for U.S. authorities to act, but this terrible mistake by Egyptian authorities was made well before the recent protests began and in many ways symbolizes the corruption the protestors are resisting,” adds Steenstra.

To arrange interview with Mostafa Soliman via Skype or telephone from his home Cairo, Egypt or spokespeople for the Hemp Industries Association please call Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or email [email protected].

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Location: 
Egypt

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