Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: Spokesman-Review (WA)
Copyright: 2000 Cowles Publishing Company
Contact:  P.O. Box 2160 Spokane, WA 99210
Fax:  (509) 459-5482
Author: Associated Press


BOISE -- Marijuana and hemp should be legalized to clear the nation's
prisons of many nonviolent inmates convicted of drug law violations
and provide an alternative crop for making construction materials and
paper, said supporters at a Statehouse gathering.

Officials estimated between 300 and 400 people at Saturday's
"citizen's rally."

Speakers said the American prison and jail population passed the 2
million mark in February. More than half imprisoned are nonviolent and
the largest category of inmates is drug law violators.

"From its inception, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was a racist law;
we can see that today," Boise State University sociology professor
Martin Orr said of the law prohibiting pot.

"African Americans and Hispanics combined are about 20 percent of the
marijuana users, but they comprise 55 percent of the marijuana
offenders sentenced under federal law."

The Legalization of Marijuana Club in April became an official student
organization at North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene.

Its goal is drafting a statewide voter initiative to legalize pot for
personal use under a state-licensing program. It also supports
legalizing industrial hemp as an Idaho crop and creating a system of
state-regulated marijuana stores, like liquor dispensaries.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake