<font color="0000ff">Source: NORML Newsletter
* "Smell" Of Pot Inadequate For Cops To Justify Probable Cause
* Cannabinoids May Inhibit Neurodegeneration, Slow Onset Of Disease,
Experts Announce At Clinical Conference
* NORML Organizes Local Demonstrations To Highlight Pending
Congressional Medi-Pot Vote
"Smell" Of Pot Inadequate For Cops To Justify Probable Cause,
Philadelphia, PA: Marijuana's odor is seldom discernible enough to
justify probable cause by law enforcement officers, according to empirical
data published in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
"Although law enforcement officials routinely rely solely on the sense
of smell to justify probable cause when entering vehicles and dwellings to
search for illicit drugs, the accuracy of their perception in this regard
has rarely been questioned and, to our knowledge, never tested," authors
at the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine wrote. Researchers evaluated data from two empirical studies
based upon actual legal cases in which police relied on the odor of
marijuana as probable cause for a search. In the first, they simulated a
situation in which, during a routine traffic stop, the odor of packaged
marijuana located in the trunk of an automobile was said to be detected
through the driver's window. In the second, researchers investigated a
report that marijuana’s odor was discernible from a considerable distance
from the chimney effluence of diesel exhaust emanating from an illicit
Six of the nine participants in the first trial were unable to detect
the odor of marijuana. In the second trial, none of the participants
could reliably detect the marijuana odor embedded in the diesel fumes.
"Our findings suggest that the odor of marijuana was not reliably
discernible by persons with an excellent sense of smell in either case,"
authors concluded. They further noted that odors emanating from immature
female plants are much less intense on average than those of mature
females, and that no marijuana-like odor could be discerned in most
"The present findings throw into question, in two specific instances,
the validity of observations made by law enforcement officers using the
sense of smell to discern the presence of marijuana," authors wrote.
"Although these instances reflect a very small set of studies with very
specific constraints, they do suggest that a blanket acceptance of
testimony based upon reported detection of odors for probable cause is
questionable and that empirical data to support or refute such testimony
in specific cases is sorely needed."
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive
Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Marijuana Odor
Perception: Studies Modeled From Probable Cause Cases," appears is the
April issue of Law and Human Behaviors. It is available online at:
Cannabinoids May Inhibit Neurodegeneration, Slow Onset Of Disease,
Experts Announce At Clinical Conference
Charlottesville, VA: Compounds in marijuana may provide symptomatic
relief and slow the progression of certain types of chronic illnesses
including Multiple Sclerosis, according to clinical research presented
last week at the Third National Clinical Conference on Cannabis
"Cannabinoids are useful therapeutic agents for movement disorders and
have potential as neuroprotective agents to slow the progression of
neurodegenerative diseases," such as Parkinson's disease and Tourette's
syndrome, said Juan Sanchez-Ramos, Director of Movement Disorders at the
University of South Florida in Miami.
Geoffrey Guy, Executive Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain,
said that human trials examining the efficacy of whole-cannabis extracts
in patients with MS indicate that cannabinoids may limit disease
progression, not just treat symptoms. Guy noted that patients in GW's
trials who have used cannabinoid extracts long-term continue to experience
relief from the disease without significantly increasing their intake of
cannabinoids. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressively debilitating disease
and these results would be unlikely unless cannabinoids are modifying the
course of the disease, Guy speculated.
Denis Petro, a consulting neurologist and drug researcher who formerly
served at Maryland's Malcolm Grow Medical Center, said that other clinical
trials on cannabinoids and MS reveal similar results. He noted that a
2003 human trial published in the journal The Lancet found "evidence of
inhibition of disease progression" in MS patients given oral THC. Petro
also summarized the findings of a clinical trial published last year in
the journal Brain that demonstrated cannabinoids to be neuroprotective in
an animal model of MS. "Therefore, in addition to symptom management,
cannabis may also slow down the neurodegenerative processes that
ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and probably
other diseases," the study concluded.
Approximately 150 people attended the conference, which was
co-sponsored by the Office of Continuing Medical Education at the
University of Virginia School of Medicine and the patient advocacy
organization Patients Out of Time.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, Senior Policy
Analyst of the NORML Foundation at (202) 483-5500. An agenda and speaker
list for the conference is available online at:
NORML Organizes Local Demonstrations To Highlight Pending
Congressional Medi-Pot Vote
Washington, DC: Marijuana law reformers will hold demonstrations
outside 110 local Congressional district offices on Friday, June 4, in a
national day of action coordinated by NORML, Americans for Safe Access
(ASA), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and the Marijuana Policy Project
The demonstrations will target members of Congress who last year voted
against an amendment introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) that sought
to bar the Justice Department from prosecuting patients who use medical
cannabis in compliance with state laws. Congress defeated the provision
by a vote of 273 to 152.
More than 30 NORML chapters will participate in next week's
demonstrations, which are intended to pressure members of Congress to vote
in favor of the 2004 Hinchey amendment. That vote is expected to take
place later this June.
For more information, please contact Kris Krane, NORML Associate
Director, at (202) 483-5500.
NORML Media Watch
NORML was featured prominently in several media outlets this week,
including The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Palm Beach Post, and The Houston
Chronicle. To read these articles or about other NORML media appearances,
check out "NORML in the Media" at:
Sign up for NORML's monthly pledge program today!
Smokers vote in 2004! Check out the candidate's updated positions on
marijuana policy. If you have not already done so, register to vote or
change your voter registration address at:
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