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IACM-Bulletin of January 9, 2000


Spain โ€” Acquittal due to medical use of hashish

For the first time a Spanish court has accepted cannabis as a medicine. A man from Austria who had been arrested in July on the airport of Barcelona with two kilograms of hashish has been acquitted by judge Araceli Aiguaviva.

She decided that 54-year old Roland H. wanted to us the drug against the side effects of cancer therapy. There was no evidence that the man suffering from stomach cancer intended to deal with hashish.

"There is a lot of scientific evidence that hashish can have beneficial effects in people suffering from cancer," Aiguaviva said. "This is the case for the fight against side effects of chemotherapy such as vomiting, dizziness and sickness."

The prosecutor pleaded for four years in prison. Usually Spanish courts treat a defendant possessing more than one kilogram of cannabis as a drug smuggler. Immediately after the sensational judgement the man was set free from imprisonment.

(Source: dpa of 31 December 1999)

Australia โ€” Judge accepted cannabis as painkiller

An Alice Springs magistrate has spared a builder from jail after accepting he possessed and cultivated cannabis for medicinal purposes. Nicholas Gallitch, 54, was instead sentenced to 28 days' home detention and random drug testing by magistrate Mr Warren Donald at Alice Springs courthouse on 4 January.

Mr Donald accepted that smoking marijuana could have beneficial effects and accepted Gallitch smoked marijuana to relieve pain. "This is the breach of the law that has been driven by the pain you have suffered," he said during sentencing.

At a trial in November, a doctor testified that Gallitch had tried a variety of other prescriptive drugs for his back pain - which stemmed from his years of working as a labourer - but they did not work or he suffered allergic reactions. Research about the medicinal effect of marijuana was also tendered as evidence.

After the sentence Gallitch said he would have to be more careful when he smoked marijuana. He said he used it only to have a good night's sleep.

In February last year the Queensland Supreme Court also accepted that cannabis could be used for pain relief after hearing the case of a Mackay man who had grown 150 marijuana plants which he claimed were for his own use in relieving back pain.

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald of 5 January 2000)

News in brief


A Swiss government advisory body said on 5 January it favours decriminalizing the use of drugs, a move which it termed a "pragmatic approach": The Federal Commission for Youth Issues argued that the current law penalizes primarily young people and people who consume, rather than deal in, both soft and hard drugs. The commission said it supports the model used in the Netherlands. The government is carrying out consultations on a revision of the federal narcotics law and it is expected to make its recommendation to parliament later this year. Switzerland's political parties also have taken part in the consultation. Decriminalisation was supported by two members of the four-party coalition government. One party favoured decriminalizing cannabis only, while the other wanted no change in the law.

(Sources: AP of 5 January 2000, Basler Zeitung of 6 January 2000)


Darrell E. Putman, a former Army Green Beret and conservative Republican who turned to marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat his cancer, died on 29 December of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In the final months of his life, Mr. Putman became an advocate for legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. He smoked the drug to regain his appetite and gain weight in preparation for cancer treatment, and wanted other patients to reap its benefits.

(Source: Baltimore Sun of 30 December 1999)