Pubdate: Sun, 08 Jul 2001
Source: The DrugSense Chat Room
Note: This is part of a series of chats being posted to the DrugNews
clipping service as an exception to policy.


Monday, July 9, 2001 8 p.m.  Eastern in the NY Times Drug Policy Forum join Keith Stroup, 
executive director of NORML

Tuesday, July 10, 2001 8 p.m.  Eastern in the NY Times Drug Policy Forum join Al Giordano, 
publisher of the Narco News Bulletin,

Future guests already scheduled in the series include Al Giordano, Steve & 
Michele Kubby, Renee Boje, and Al Robison.  See for details.



DrugSense Chat Room (

Sunday, July 08, 2001, 8:00 PM ET

Keith: Hello, friends. My  name is Keith Stroup and I'm pleased to join you 
tonight. I am here to discuss marijuana policy in general, and NORML in 
particular. I  founded NORML 31 years ago, and am  currently back running 
the organization again.

Dean: What do you think of the UK situation, with Sir Keith Morris, Simon 
Hughes and David Davis coming out for marijuana legalization if not full 

Keith: I think what is happening in England and in Canada is terribly 
important. Our government, and most elected officials, have been 
willing  to try to ignore and misrepresent the experience in Holland and 
other countries. They will not be able to do that in Canada, for example, 
with whom we share a common language, common culture, and common border. 
England, because of our special relationship with our mother country, has 
that same potential to impact domestic marijuana policy as well.

Keith: The situation in Portugal is also very  important, as they seem to 
be openingly violating the 1961 Single Convention treaty, with no apparent 
repercussions. This may be an  important issue for us in this country a few 
years down the road.

kelinsmART: Every time I look for a job and see pre-screening testing I 
feel discriminated against. Has anyone looked into a class action 
discrimination lawsuit against gov or other? No one should be judged on the 
"color" of their pee

Keith: The usual legal basis for challenging a urine test is that it is  a 
search done without a search warrant, and therefore  unconstitutional. 
However, the 4th amendment only applies to government, not  private 
companies. Essentially, private companies are permitted to impose whatever 
employment practices they want, so long as they do not  use race, religion 
or  gender as the basis.

Keith: By the way, Graham Boyd runs a very good drug policy litigation 
project for ACLU which does frequently sue to challenge drug testing 
requirements, but they  can  only do that when the  entity is a school or 
other governmental unit, so the 4th Amendment applies.

kelinsmART: but if smoking is part of your religion?

Keith: To challenge the use of marijuana under a religious theory has not 
been successful to date, although the native Americans have won legal 
protection for their use of peyote in their religion.

allan: keith as a lawyer can you explain how laws - pot prohibition - that 
are based on the lies and bigotry of Harry Anslinger can remain standing?

Keith: Our laws are the result of the political process --  not some 
rational process of fact finding -- and therefore they represent all 
of  the fears and exaggerations accepted by those lawmakers.

Keith: Friends frequently tell me they presume there must be a legal 
solution to the problems of marijuana prohibition, because they presume 
there is a legal solution to all problems. In fact, for many injuries one 
sustains in our society, there simply is no legal right to peruse. In many 
ways I think we will  have to look to our elected officials to get us out 
of this problem; I do not expect the judges will bail us out.

Frank: Keith, Gary Storck from Madison WI here. What kind of future do you 
see for getting cannabis rescheduled, and what steps can  activists take to 
move this issue along?

Keith: Gary, the work you  and Jackie are doing is wonderful and we just 
need more of it. I am not sure I  believe the DEA will ever give us a fair 
hearing on the rescheduling issue, but eventually, if necessary, we will 
have sufficient support in Congress so that we can reschedule it via 

Lindy: Health Canada released new MMJ regs this past week, which was court 
driven. Have you had a chance to read them? If so, what do you think?

Lindy: In Canada it was the Judges who mandated the changes for Medicinal use.

Keith: As to the Canadian regulations for medical use, I have only read a 
summary of their actions. It did seem that they were insisting on some 
requirements (must have tried all other medications and found them 
ineffective) that were needlessly restrictive.

Keith: Nonetheless, what  they are doing -- adopting a regulatory system 
for permitting patients access to medical  marijuana -- protected from the 
law -- is incredibly important, and will eventually put a lie to our 
government's propaganda.

Dean: Why do not more celebrities come into the fray, help to battle 
against the drug warriors?  For many of them, it seems they could only but 
gain more endorsement from the public for their efforts.

Keith: Many celebrities support the work we are involved in, but that does 
not mean they either send money, speak out publicly, or in any  other 
manner help move the issue forward politically. For most of them, 
their  agents and business managers scare them to death, and convince them 
they will destroy their careers if they are seen  as too closely connected 
with any controversial issue.

Dean: Where do you see next year at this time Keith?

Keith: Perhaps because I have been on this path once previously, I tend to 
take the longer look. I presume the fight will remain difficult for the 
next few years, as more of our strongest opponents die  or otherwise move 
on  to other issues, and we replace them with younger policy makers who are 
far more likely to be sympathetic to our position. But if the pendulum 
continues to swing in our direction, as it has clearly since around 1996, 
we will make some incredible progress over the next five years, including 
total legalization of medical use, and some new states to add to the 
decriminalization list for responsible social use.

allan: Keith - what about pressing the opposition for a major public debate?

Keith: That's probably a good idea, although I don't think a formal debate 
would be the most effective forum. If one remembers from high school and 
college, those tend to be wonderful games to play, but not particularly 
good at reviewing the evidence and arriving at a just conclusion. Sometimes 
the procedure gets in  the way of a helpful discussion. Nonetheless, 
anything to encourage more of a healthy public debate on marijuana policy 
- -- and a challenge would be one way -- is worth pursuing

kelinsmART: how do we get more airtime, TV time, radio, papers and other media?

Keith: There are two ways: first, we spend more of our resources buying 
time  on  major media to get our  message out. The NORML Foundation, our 
tax-exempt side, is in the early stages of a significant public advertising 
campaign that will air later this year. Second, we have to create events 
and opportunities to get free coverage in the media. This is the 
most  powerful  exposure, but difficult to control. The movement overall 
is  getting  better at this, but mostly we need to allocate more resources 
to media outreach.

stv: keith, we had a few state bills in texas this session but they never 
got out of committee. what can we do to get it further along next time.

Keith: Legislative support really consists primarily of demonstrating to 
elected officials that their constituents -- those  who live and vote 
in  their district -- care about this issue. If they hear from a reasonable 
number of constituents, saying "it's time we stopped arresting responsible 
marijuana  smokers," that begins to seem  like a responsible alternative to 
current policies, instead of some radical or fringe proposal. We must 
demonstrate that most citizens oppose jailing marijuana smoker (58%).

kelinsmART: Has many people claimed political amnesty from America?

Keith: There have surely been far too many casualties from  the drug war, 
including the many good Americans who elected to become  ex-patriots, 
rather than face the legal  consequences awaiting them in this  country. 
There but for the grace of God

Lindy: Would acknowledging potential tax revenue help inspire our 
governments to decriminalize Marijuana?

Keith: The positive economics of legalizing marijuana, with a regulated 
market where consumers could purchase their marijuana from a safe and 
secure environment, and where governments would presumably impose their 
"sin tax," will become an issue, once the morality has largely been removed 
from this issue. Just as gambling was once consider immoral, today nearly 
every state in the union raises money by offering a state sponsored 
lottery. I do  not  believe this issue works well at all for those 
who  seriously oppose marijuana on moral grounds, but as they become less 
of a political force, the tax revenue issue will become very important 

BigBong: would ask KS if he is aware of the radical activism of the worlds 
only online illegal cannabis cafe,

Keith: I am not  aware of the online cafe, but will surely check it out. 

Paul: hi Keith...what have you been up to lately

Keith: I was able to take a couple of days off following the 4th, and 
enjoyed some cooking at home and some gardening. I feel mostly  rested and 
ready  to go back to work tomorrow.

Paul: are you shooting for decrime or legalization?

Keith: NORML has always supported (1) decriminalizing the smoker; and (2) 
establish a legal  market where the sale of marijuana is regulated. The 
former is what most people mean when  they say decriminalization, the later 
is legalization. We support both, and support the consumer's right to grow 
his own marijuana, as an alternative.

kelinsmART: How can they still run the ads on TV showing your brain on 
drugs only its actually a comatose brain? Is there any truth to advertising?

Keith: There was never any truth to the "this is your  brain on drugs" ads, 
and I  think they  have generally been discarded, but apparently you have 
recently seen them, so they must still be in use in some markets.

BigBong: keith do you believe we are closer to relegalization nowww than at 
any time since the marijuana tax act of 1937?

Keith: Keep in mind that the 1st amendment protects most speech in this 
country from censorship, including a lot of propaganda from the 
government  and their dupes.  So they can and always have exaggerated the 
dangers from marijuana (and from other drugs as well), but there is no 
"truth arbiter" you can appeal that to. Eventually we simply have to 
convince our own  government to be rational about marijuana research and to 
stop exaggerating the supposed dangers from marijuana smoking.

Paul: Kieth...where do you see the biggest opposition to the reform movement

Keith: Our issue suffers from some terribly negative stereotypes, almost 
all of which is totally bogus. It's as if we were defined by a couple of 
Cheech and Chong movies, when in fact he vast majority of marijuana smokers 
are just average Americans, who raise kids, work hard, contribute to 
their  communities, and are generally good citizens. They are simply 
average Americans who happen to smoke marijuana.

BigBong: keith how often do you visit

Keith: Actually I was aware of Map, Inc., but not very familiar with what 
the group does until recently. Mark and Matt recently began proving NORML 
with current information for our web site that is just great. The joint 
effort has proven good for both organizations, as our web site is 
much  better, and the NORML site now accounts for more referrals to Map, 
Inc than any other site.

kelinsmART: What direction do you see the United Nations going with drug 

FatFreddy: What will the pressure from other countries do to the WODs, in 
the USA?

Keith: The changes that appear to be almost unstoppable in Canada, England, 
Portugal, Spain, not to  mention  the success in  Holland, are enormously 
important. They reflect political change on this issue by elected 
government in  many countries of the world, several of whom are very close 
to the US. This is really the beginning of the end for the war on drugs.

Keith: As I mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see how the UN 
responds to the recent changes in Portugal. They complained loudly when it 
happened, but I can't see that they have the slightest ability to enforce 
their treaties and conventions. In the end, each country will always do 
what is in that country's best interest.

Paul: where would you see a good point to gather the forces?

Keith: It  seems to me  that with  political issues, we must always be 
ready to do battle, but we can seldom determine the timing of  the next big 
battle. The Supreme Court case on medical marijuana, although a temporary 
set-back, proved to be the biggest political issue for our issue this year. 
I doubt many people would have expected that. So I can't really expect to 
gather  the forces at our timing. However, the Seattle HempFest on  August 
18 and 19, and the Boston Freedom Rally on September 15 are both 
wonderful  events that each year attract close to 100,000 supporters. 
I  will be at both events again this year, and I urge everyone who can  to 
attend both events.

kelinsmART: How did the presidential candidates ignore the drug question?

Keith: Both political parties have been afraid of the drug issue. Since 
Gov. Dukakis was portrayed as soft on crime and drugs, every elected 
official in American  has believed the surest way to lose the next election 
is to let our opponent position himself as tougher than you. So now, almost 
everyone in the entire political system has bought into the drug war, and 
there is little real debate over options to the war, such as 
decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. It also was a factor that one of 
the candidates had a problem earlier in his life, and adopted a hands off 
policy early. I do not understand why the media allowed him to get by with 
that, but they did. Neither candidate felt they had anything to gain from 
bringing up the issue, or by publicly supporting  reform. It shows how far 
we have to go to finally win this issue.

stv: keith, i have thought the war on drugs on colombia might be more about 
oil than drugs. what do you think?

Keith: The war in Colombia from  our government's perspective seems 
entirely about drug enforcement; from  the Colombia perspective it is 
interwoven with a revolutionary movement that has been alive for many 
years. We have once again  made strange allies, it seems.

Keith: Let me thank the  good folks who spent  their  time hanging  out 
with  us tonight. It was fun.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D