February 16, 2001
Find Marijuana Prohibition Plays No Role in Deterring Pot Use
Kingdom: Data from the United
States and abroad indicates that removing criminal penalties for
marijuana possession will not lead to increased drug use, according
to findings published this month by the British Journal of
"The available evidence suggests ... that
removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession (decriminalization)
will not increase the prevalence of marijuana or any other illicit
drug," authors found. Their study noted that a far greater
percentage of Americans age 12 and older (33 percent) report having
tried marijuana as do their Dutch counterparts (16 percent), despite
the fact that open sale and possession of pot is permitted in
the Netherlands. Dutch figures also indicated that decriminalization
appears to have had "some success" separating pot from
the hard drug market, thereby reducing the number of marijuana
users who try other illicit drugs. The study is one of the first
to draw cross-sectional comparisons of drug use among Americans
and non-Americans of identical age groups.
Similar findings were noted in countries with
alternate versions of marijuana decriminalization. Empirical data
from Italy and Spain, which decriminalized possession of all psychoactive
drugs, indicate that their citizens use marijuana at rates comparable
to neighboring countries that maintain strict prohibition.
The authors concluded: "Our judgment,
based on review of the research literature, is that at present
the primary harms of marijuana use (including those borne by non-users)
come from criminalization. ... This prohibition inflicts harms
directly and is costly. Unless it can be shown that the removal
of penalties will increase use of other more harmful drugs, ...
it is difficult to see what society gains [from prohibition.]"
NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq.
praised the study's findings, noting that it joins a long list
of prestigious commissions and study groups that have reached
the same conclusion. "The U.S. National Commission on Marijuana
and Drug Abuse (the Shafer Commission), the LeDain Commission
in Canada, and the Wooten Report in England all agreed that we
should stop arresting responsible marijuana smokers. The data
today, just as it did then, overwhelmingly supports the removal
of criminal penalties for the personal possession and use of marijuana."
The study, which was sponsored by the RAND
Drug Policy Research Center, appears in volume 178 of the British
Journal of Psychiatry.
For more information, please contact R. Keith
Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.
Allowing for Medical Use of Marijuana Introduced in Maryland
Annapolis, MD: For the second straight
year the Maryland Legislature will debate whether to legalize
marijuana for medical purposes.
Maryland House Bill 940, introduced by Del.
Donald Murphy (R-Baltimore County), allows qualified patients
to possess and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes. The
proposed law would also establish a state-run registry for qualified
patients, and allow patients and their primary caregivers to raise
medical necessity as an affirmative defense to any marijuana prosecution.
Twenty-nine delegates, including nine Republicans, have signed
on to the bill, which has a hearing scheduled for March 1. A companion
bill, SB 750, is pending in the Senate and will be heard on February
Further information on HB 940 and SB 750 is
available at: http://capwiz.com/norml2/md/officials/state/?state=md&lvl=L.
To read about other pending marijuana legislation, visit: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/.
Program Admits Failings
Washington, DC: At a press conference today,
proponents of the student anti-drug education program DARE admitted
that its current approach is ineffective at persuading graduates
to resist experimenting with illicit drugs. The group announced
that it will begin controlled studies this fall on a new DARE
curriculum targeting older students.
More than 30 studies have been conducted evaluating
DARE, almost all of which have concluded that DARE graduates go
on to use drugs at similar or higher rates than those students
not exposed to the program. Recently, both the U.S. Surgeon General
and the National Academy of Sciences issued reports concluding
DAREs approach is ineffective. Nevertheless, the program continues
to be taught in nearly 80 percent of the nation's school districts,
and receives over $230 million in federal and corporate funding.
For more information, please contact Allen
St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.
Health Board Proposes Rules for State Medical Marijuana Program
Denver, CO: Draft regulations to establish
a state-run, medical marijuana patient registry were released
this week by the Colorado Board of Health. Voters approved legislation
last year legalizing the medical use of marijuana for qualified
The proposed regulations establish a confidential
patient registry similar to those in other states, and authorize
the health department to issue serially numbered identification
cards to qualified patients. Cards shall include the patient's
name, address, birth-date and social security number, as well
as the name and address of the patient's primary caregiver. Only
authorized state employees or local law enforcement agencies shall
have access to the registry.
A $140 fee is due upon application for the
A public hearing on the draft rules will be
held on March 21. Written comments may be submitted to: Colorado
Board of Health C/O Linda Shearman, Program Assistant, Colorado
Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek
Drive South EDO-A5, Denver, CO 80246-1530.