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IACM-Bulletin of April 30, 2000


USA — Hawaii approves medical use through legislation

The Hawaii Senate passed a bill on 24 April that will allow the medical use of Cannabis by patients with certain severe or life-threatening illnesses. The Hawaiian House of Representatives has already approved the measure, and Gov. Ben Cayetano has said he will sign the law.

Hawaii is the first state of the U.S.A. to approve the medicinal use of marijuana through legislation instead of a voter referendum as in Alaska, Washington, California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Maine and the District of Columbia. The Federal Justice Department is challenging those laws.

Patients who want to smoke marijuana to alleviate pain, combat chemotherapy treatments and stimulate appetite would require written certification from a doctor and would have to register annually with the state public safety department.

"This bill will protect from arrest both the patient who might find a use for marijuana and the doctor who might recommend its use," said Democratic Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee.

(Sources: AP of 25 April 2000, The Daily Free Press of 28 April 2000)

Germany — Discontinuance of a trial until a decision of the Federal Institute for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products

A patient who was among those who filled a complaint before the Constitutional Court, had to appear before court on 26 April for possessing Cannabis. The judge ordered to discontinue the court procedure until a decision on an application by the defendant to the Federal Institute for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products.

The police had confiscated 200 grams of marijuana in the home of the patient suffering from multiple sclerosis. He got an order of summary punishment amounting for 600 German marks (about 300 US dollars), which he refused to pay. It became clear very fast, that the judge showed sympathy for the defendant and was seeking a way out to end the court procedure without sentencing him.

The judge would have liked to suspend the procedure, but accepted that this would not help the patient. Than he decided to discontinue the court procedure until a decision of the Federal Institute for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products concerning the defendant's application. The Constitutional Court had decided in January 2000 that patients had to try an application for the medical use of Cannabis at this independent subordinary board of the Health Ministry first, before addressing to the highest German court.

In April another patient had to appear before a court in Bavaria for possessing 50 grams of marijuana. He was sentenced to 2 months on probation. Unfortunately he had not got into contact with the Association for Cannabis as Medicine before.

Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen: "The decision to discontinue the court procedure is an elegant solution, that keeps the political and legal pressure. The judge did not want to sentence the defendant, but had no possibility to acquit him. The law is written that way today that judges increasingly realize its inherent injustice, but cannot rule according to their sense of justice. It is up to politics to change this."

(Source: personal communications)

Holland — Installation of a Cannabis Agency for Medical Cannabis at the Health Ministry

The Health Ministry is installing a Cannabis Agency for Medical Cannabis (BMC, Bureau voor medicinale cannabis). This agency shall regulate the cultivation and handling with Cannabis for research purposes. It shall ensure as well, that the use of Cannabis is in accordance with the international drug conventions.

On 4 April Health Minister Dr. Els Borst explained the state of the development to the chairman of the health committee (vaste commissie voor Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport). According to this letter staff members are looked for at present and an accompanying commission will be installed. Than steps will be taken, that ensure the work in accordance with the international drug conventions. Not till then concrete arrangements on clinical trials and product development will be made.

Institutions that are already working in this area, like Weleda Nederland NV in Zoetermeer, Stichting Patientenbelangen Medicinale Marihuana and Maripharm in Rotterdam will eventually be included in this process.

Dr. Henk van Wilgenburg, Dr. Adele van der Plas, Nevil Schoenmaker and Mario Lap have created the "Foundation for Cannabis Genetics", aiming at delivering suitable Cannabis to the Cannabis Agency.

(Sources: Letter of Els Borst of 4 April 2000, Email of Mario Lap of 22 April 2000)

News in brief


21.000 Unterschriften für die Legalisierung von Cannabis wurden am 27. April der Drogenbeauftragten der Bundesregierung, Christa Nickels (Grüne), übergeben. Die Unterschriften waren in den vergangenen zwölf Monaten vor allem von der Grünen Hilfe und von HANF e.V. bundesweit gesammelt worden. Die Initiatoren fordern die Streichung von Cannabis aus dem Betäubungsmittelgesetz und die Entwicklung von Abgabemodellen nach dem niederländischen Coffeeshop-Modell. (Quelle: Taz vom 28. April 2000)