Pubdate: Wed, 28 Mar 2001
Source: Honolulu Weekly (HI)
Copyright: 2001 Honolulu Weekly Inc
Author: Kevin Christopher Nelson
Note: This post updates this feature article originally posted at with information printed 
on the front page and the boldface introductory paragraph by Richard Cowan.


Number of Americans arrested since 1970 on marijuana-related charges: over 
13 million

Estimated U.S. deaths in year 2000 attributed to

TOBACCO: 400,000

ALCOHOL: 110,000


SUICIDE: 30,000

MURDER: 15,000



"One of the problems that the marijuana-reform movement consistently faces 
is that everyone wants to talk about what marijuana does, but no one ever 
wants to look at what marijuana prohibition does. Marijuana never kicks 
down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick 
and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in 
bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer-madness allegation of the 
prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm 
to far more people than marijuana ever could."

Richard Cowan, former head of NORML, now editor of


Atlanta: Louis E. Covar Jr., 51, a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck 
down in a diving accident on July 4, 1967, who says he uses marijuana to 
relieve the pain from muscle spasms in his neck, is sentenced to seven 
years in prison after being accused of selling marijuana out of his home. 
Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sent Covar to prison after investigators found 
about 1.25 ounces of marijuana in his home. "We feel strongly he was 
selling out of his house," Richmond County DA Danny Craig said. Covar 
denied the charges, insisting the small amount was for his personal 
medicinal use. According to the Department of Corrections, the special care 
Covar will need will cost $258.33 a day -- or more than $660,000 if he 
serves his full seven years. A typical prisoner costs taxpayers $47.63 per day.


Arizona: Deborah Lynn Quinn, 39, born with no arms or legs, is sentenced to 
one year in an Arizona prison for marijuana possession, thus violating her 
probation on a previous drug offense -- the attempted sale of 4 grams of 
marijuana to a police informant for $20. Quinn will require 
around-the-clock care for feeding, bathing and hygiene. Terry L. Stewart, 
Arizona Corrections Director, expressed his frustration: "I simply cannot 
understand how a judge can sentence a disabled woman to prison who presents 
absolutely no escape risk, no physical danger to the public, and who will 
be an extremely difficult and expensive person to care for at $345 per day, 
without exploring any alternative sentence measures such as intensive 


The United States' prison and jail population surpasses 2 million people. 
Prisons are one of the fastest-growing expenses of government, costing 
about $100,000 to build a single prison cell and about $24,000 per year for 
each prisoner. Some 1.3 million U.S. inmates are currently serving time for 
"nonviolent offenses." One-quarter of the world's prisoners are now 
incarcerated in the "land of the free."


Honolulu: The Hawai'i Medical Association comes out formally against the 
pending state medical-marijuana initiative. Heidi Singh, director of 
legislative and government affairs for the Hawai'i Medical Association, 
said more studies should be done on medical marijuana, and that "physicians 
cannot in good faith recommend a drug therapy without clinical evidence to 
back it up."


Madrid: The chemical in marijuana that produces a "high" shows promise as a 
weapon against deadly brain tumors, say Spanish scientists. In the study on 
rats a research team from Complutense University and Autonoma University in 
Madrid found that one of marijuana's active ingredients, THC, killed tumor 
cells in advanced cases of glioma, a quick-killing cancer for which there 
is currently no effective treatment. The scientists found that THC pumped 
into the tumors cleared the cancer in more than a third of the test rats. 
The drug also prolonged the life of another third by up to 40 days but was 
ineffective in the rest. The cancer did not come back in any of the 
survivors. Researchers are not sure why, but the Spanish team says THC 
caused a buildup of a fat molecule called ceramide, which provoked a 
die-off of the cancer cells.


United Kingdom: Marijuana-like compounds ease tremors in mice with a 
condition similar to multiple sclerosis, researchers say in a study 
published in the British journal Nature that appears to corroborate 
patients who say pot helps them deal with the disease. "This lends credence 
to the anecdotal reports that some people with MS have said that cannabis 
can help control these distressing symptoms," said Lorna Layward, one of 
the study's authors. Layward heads the research arm of the Multiple 
Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Mondovi, Wisconsin: Mondovi police conduct a 3:30 a.m. raid at the home of 
medical-marijuana activist Jackie Rickert, seize a small amount of 
marijuana and search her home until 10 a.m. Rickert is 49, wheelchair-bound 
and weighs 90 pounds. Rickert suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and 
reflexive-sympathetic dystrophy, bone and muscle illnesses that keep her in 
constant pain and often unable to eat. She smokes marijuana to ease her 
pain and restore her appetite. Rickert had just missed being accepted into 
the federal government's Investigative New Drug program, which distributes 
a tin of 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes to eight legally protected 
American citizens each month. Rickert's daughter, Tammy, claims the police 
raid has left her mother a wreck. "She's tiny, frail," Tammy Rickert said. 
"She's not out to hurt anybody. She's trying to maintain some semblance of 
a quality of life. The marijuana, which the government pretty much told her 
she could use, helps a little. This whole thing is unbelievable."


New York City: An unarmed black security guard, Patrick Dorismond, waiting 
for a cab with his friend Kevin Kaiser, is shot dead by undercover New York 
City police officers conducting a marijuana "buy-and-bust." Two 
plainclothes detectives approached Dorismond asking if he would sell them 
"some weed." Dorismond rebuffed the men, a scuffle ensued and a third 
officer, Anthony Vasquez, rushed in, pulled out his revolver and fired a 
single bullet into Dorismond's chest. No drugs or other contraband were 
found on Dorismond's body. The shooting was the third time in 13 months 
plainclothes New York City police officers have shot and killed an unarmed 
black man. Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, marijuana arrests in the city have 
risen from 720 in 1992, to 59,945 in the first 11 months of 2000.


Toronto: Canada's premier national newspaper, The National Post, 
editorializes in favor of legalizing marijuana: "Marijuana legalization has 
long been the subject of academic debate. The time has come to turn 
conjecture into law. Canada's police, judges and prosecutors have better 
things to do with their time than track down those who produce and consume 
a substance no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. We should begin the 
decriminalization of marijuana by immediately reducing the punishments that 
can be imposed for its possession to modest fines -- and start thinking 
about how to regulate its use."


Santa Cruz, California: The Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approves an 
ordinance making the city the first in the nation to legalize the 
production and sale of medical marijuana without a doctor's prescription, 
as long as it is sold at cost or given away.


Honolulu: Despite the formal opposition of the Hawai'i Diocese of the 
Catholic Church, the Hawai'i State Senate passes medical-marijuana 
legislation, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Alaska, Arizona 
and the District of Columbia in shielding medical marijuana patients from 
criminal prosecution.

MAY 11

Charleston, West Virginia: The West Virginia Supreme Court, voting 4-1, 
denies a "medical necessity" defense to Donna Jean Poling, a 
multiple-sclerosis patient in the terminal stages of her illness, who was 
arrested for growing marijuana in her home. Poling claimed that marijuana 
kept her symptom-free for three years preceding her 1998 arrest, after 
which her condition worsened dramatically.


New York City: Human Rights Watch releases a study finding that Illinois is 
the worst state for racial disparity among jailed drug offenders. Illinois' 
black men are 57 times more likely than white men to be sent to prison on 
drug charges, and blacks comprise 90 percent of all prison admissions in 
Illinois for drug charges -- the highest percentage in the country. 
Nationwide, federal studies show that white drug users outnumber black drug 
users 5 to 1, blacks make up about 62 percent of prisoners incarcerated on 
drug charges in the United States, compared with 36 percent of whites.


Los Angeles: Bestselling author, cancer and AIDS patient and high-profile, 
medical-marijuana activist Peter McWilliams is found dead in his home. 
McWilliams, barred by a federal court order from using marijuana to 
counteract the extreme nausea caused by his AIDS drugs, is found dead on 
his bathroom floor, having choked to death on his own vomit. His federal 
prosecutors say they were "saddened by his death."

McWilliams bestselling books included How to Heal Depression, Getting Over 
the Loss of a Love, Life 101 and Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The 
Absurdity of Consensual Crimes In Our Free Country.


Ontario, Canada: Ontario's top court rules unanimously (3-0) that Canada's 
law making marijuana possession a crime is unconstitutional, because it 
does not take into account the needs of Canadian medical-marijuana 
patients. The judges allow the current law to remain in effect for another 
12 months to permit Parliament to rewrite it. However, if the Canadian 
government fails to set up a medical-marijuana distribution program by July 
31, 2001, all marijuana laws in Canada will be struck down. The decision 
comes in the case of Terry Parker, an epileptic who had been denied a 
federal medical-marijuana exemption. Parker has been hospitalized over 100 
times for injuries sustained during seizures.


Los Angeles: The American Medical Marijuana Association reports that 
medical-marijuana patient, grower and author of How to Grow Medical 
Marijuana, Todd McCormick, confined to federal prison while appealing his 
drug-possession conviction, was sent to solitary confinement. According to 
his mother, Ann McCormick, Todd went to the prison's medical office and 
requested the synthetic form of marijuana, Marinol, produced by Unimed 
Pharmaceuticals, that he had been taking prior to his incarceration. One 
day after Todd requested the legal medicine, the Feds ordered that he be 
drug-tested. When the results came back positive for marijuana, Todd was 
placed in solitary confinement. "The pain in his neck and back has been 
unbearable lately," said McCormick's mother. "Todd has a spinal fusion -- 
the top five vertebrae were fused when he was 2 years old. A tumor had 
completely eaten the second vertebrae and the old fusion is now literally 
carving grooves in the base of his skull, prompting severe headaches as 
well. His left hip stopped growing when he was 9, a result of radiation 
treatments for childhood cancer. He has severe scoliosis, nerve damage in 
his upper back, shoulders and neck and severe muscle spasms in his lower 
back. He has received no medical treatment since January," said Mrs. McCormick.

AUGUST 20 Seattle: An estimated crowd of 100,000 people gather at Myrtle 
Edwards Park for Hempfest 2000, calling for the legalization of marijuana 
for personal and medical use, as well as legalization of hemp for 
environmentally sustainable industrial uses. The event is the largest of 
its kind in the world, with no arrests reported.

SEPTEMBER 8 Santa Fe, New Mexico: Green Party presidential candidate Ralph 
Nader joins New Mexico's Republican Governor Gary Johnson in criticizing 
the nation's war on drugs, calling for the legalization of marijuana and 
reform of what Nader calls "self-defeating and antiquated" drug laws. 
"Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, should not be criminalized," 
Nader says at a news conference with Johnson in Santa Fe. "It's got to be 
subjected to health programs and caring programs, because they work." 
Rehabilitating drug addicts gives a far better payoff than "criminalizing 
and militarizing the situation," he said. "Study after study has shown 
that, and yet somehow it doesn't get through to federal policy."


Washington, D.C.: U.S. Drug "Czar" Barry McCaffrey announces his 
resignation, effective January 6, 2001.


Washington, D.C.: The FBI releases its 1999 Uniform Crime Report. There 
were a record total of 704,812 U.S. marijuana arrests in 1999, or one every 
45 seconds. Of those arrests, 620,541 (88 percent) were for simple 
marijuana possession while 84,271 (12 percent) were for sales/cultivation. 
During the Clinton administration, there were 4,175,357 marijuana arrests, 
a record for any U.S. presidency.


Election Day: Voters across the United States pass sweeping drug-law reform 
initiatives. In California, despite opposition from Governor Gray Davis, 
Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, statewide police 
associations and prison guard unions, citizens vote 61-39 to pass 
Proposition 36, diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment rather 
than prison for first and second offenses. Proponents claim the move will 
save the state $150 million annually and will cancel the need for a new 
state prison. In Mendocino County, CA, voters approve Measure G by a 58-42 
margin, decriminalizing personal use and cultivation of up to 25 marijuana 
plants. Nevadans vote 65-35 to pass Question 9 allowing qualifying patients 
to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. In response, a self-appointed 
task force of state healthcare officials, the Nevada Medical Marijuana 
Initiative Work Group, moves to limit use of the drug to research studies, 
adding months if not years to approval time. Said Louis Ling, general 
counsel for the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy and part of the work group, 
"No matter what system gets passed, it's going to be a good long time 
before medical marijuana is available." By a 53-47 margin, Colorado voters 
pass Amendment 20, allowing qualifying patients to possess up to 2 ounces 
of marijuana and grow up to six plants. Tom Strickland, U.S. attorney for 
Colorado, in a statement released on the afternoon of Nov. 7, says that his 
office will continue to "aggressively enforce federal drug laws, including 
the prohibition of marijuana, regardless of the passage of this ballot 
initiative." Utahns, by a margin of 69-31, pass Initiative B, denying 
government agencies the right to seize property from individuals before 
they are convicted 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake