Agriculture Canada released Bi-Weekly Bulletin Vol. 1, No. 7, the first and only to be printed on hemp paper. The bulletin contains a good briefing of the history and many uses of the cannabis plant. The author of the bulletin, Gordon Reichert, has been besieged with requests for more information, and has recently returned from the BioResource Hemp symposium in Frankfurt (see May 2-5 below).
The Chief Coroner of British Columbia released his report on drug overdose deaths. After spending six months travelling the province and gathering information, the Chief Coroner recommended, among other things, that the Attorney General of BC seriously inquire into the merits of legalizing the possession of marijuana, and decriminalizing the use of “hard drugs” by those shown to be addicted to them. The Provincial Government has responded favourably to the report. A detailed summary of the report can be found on page 49 of this issue. Chief Coroner Cain can be reached at (604) 660-7737. The Attorney General of BC can be reached at (604) 387-5008.
The European Parliamentary Commission on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs voted for “cannabis decriminalization.” The full European Parliament is expected to vote on this recommendation later this year. Usually the parliament follows the recommendation of the relevant commissions, but the United States is expected to bring maximum pressure to prevent the replication of the Dutch success inseparating cannabis from other illegal drugs.
A commission appointed by the French government to study whether to legalize “soft” drugs for personal use reported that its members were split on the issue. Nine members of the commission favoured legalizing such drugs as hashish and marijuana while eight were opposed. Specialists estimate that between one and five million French people use cannabis. Present law calls for jail sentences of between two months and a year for personal possession, but about three-quarters of those convicted receive suspended sentences. The commission was also split nine-eight in favour of maintaining tough penalties for use of drugs such as heroine and cocaine. Feb 7 Mercedes Benz announced that it has begun using flax and sisal fibres in door paneling, and is investigating using other materials like banana, jute, and hemp. The company said the materials made vehicles more environmentally friendly yet still satisfied the safety, technological and performance expectations of consumers.
A Baltimore grand jury concluded that striking down laws against possessing small amounts of marijuana is an “honest response” to a finding that authorities seldom enforce such laws. The report was hailed by Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who since 1988 has advocated a national debate on alternative approaches to fighting drugs. For more information on the Baltimore grand jury’s 20-page report, please contact David Fratello, Drug Policy Foundation, 202-537-5005.
Hawaii County Mayor Stephen Yamashiro asserted in a letter to the DEA that he is totally supportive of efforts to establish a legal hemp industry on Hawaii. Hemp activist Roger Christie has secured the Mayor’s endorsement and an offer to use county lands for a project to grow low grade hemp for commercial purposes. The letter pointed out that President Clinton signed Executive Order 12919 in June of 1994 which, amongst other things, recognizes hemp as a “Food Resource”. For further information on Hawaii’s efforts to legalize hemp production, please contact either activist Roger Christie, 808- 961-0488 or Mayor Stephen Yamashiro, 808-961-8211.
South Australia became the second of Australia’s six states to allow trial plantings of cannabis for industrial use. The South Australian government is following the lead of Tasmania in encouraging agricultural diversification while dealing with a serious drought.
The New York Times Magazine ran a lengthy cover article entitled “Marijuana in the 90’s”. The article examined indoor marijuana cultivation and was written by Michael Pollan, the gardening editor for Harper Magazine. The article blamed prohibition for the popularity of indoor cultivation, and examined the economics of contraband both in the U.S. and The Netherlands. It also had some great pictures of high-quality buds.
The Los Angeles Times published a detailed article on the Cannabis Buyers Club in San Francisco. The story quoted San Francisco Mayor Jordan as saying “I have no problem whatsoever with the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I am sensitive and compassionate to people who have legitimate needs. We should bend the law and do what’s right.”
Dutch police impounded 17,000 kilograms of imported cannabis, presumably en route to Germany. It was the largest ever cannabis seizure in Dutch history.
An exhibition and symposium on hemp was held in Frankfurt, Germany. The event, called BioResource Hemp, featured new products like hemp oil detergent and steam explosion process for extracting hemp fibres, as well as a great many speakers from over twelve countries. For more information see the article on page 24.
In Alameda municipal court in Oakland a jury found 5 needle exchange volunteers not guilty of distributing drug paraphernalia. Despite the fact that they were distributing clean needles to injection drug users, the jury acquitted them through a “necessity defence”. The jury foreman was a retired policeman. This was the fourth time the DA’s office has tried to convict County Exchange volunteers. For information contact the Alameda County Exchange at (510)287-8993.
Prince George hemp store Back to the Garden was threatened with criminal charges if it continued to sell literature banned under section 462.2 of the Criminal Code. This includes Cannabis Canada. Owner Darren Rinaldi has refused to pull any books from his shelves. This is covered in Censorship in Prince George, which appeared in the premiere issue of Cannabis Canada.