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October 1996 Cannabis News




Voters in Norwich North will have the chance to Legalise Cannabis at the general election. Infamous cannabis-smuggler Howard Marks has agreed to contest the marginal seat where the Tories have a 266-vote majority over Labour. Marks, 51, who recently launched his autobiography, was proposed by Norwich campaign group CLCIA, who will also put forward a candidate in Norwich South.
Marks’ book "Mr Nice", which was recently serialised in the Guardian, tells of his colourful life as a cannabis smuggling playboy who was later entrapped by the DEA, and convicted of trafficking. He was recently released after serving seven of a twenty-five year prison sentence in the USA.
CLCIA’s previously selected candidate, Michel Pryce, said he was "honoured to step aside and let 'Mr. Nice' stand in Norwich North. Residents in North Norfolk have already approached me and asked me to consider standing there." In Norwich South, CLCIA’s candidate will be John Adam, a 42 year old student of theoretical physics at UEA, who is married with 2 teenage daughters. CLCIA believes it can win 5000 votes across the two Norwich constituencies, and perhaps influence the result.
Jack Girling, the chairman of CLCIA described Marks as "a fine person" and "from the heart". The Eastern Daily Press and Evening News asked Jack how he could describe a drug-pusher that way. He replied "What about car dealers? What about alcohol and tobacco sellers? I’m sure they sleep with clear consciences." He added that ex-prisoner Marks "is certainly qualified to speak of the disastrous effect of prohibition on the lives of individuals and on society."
The candidates for the mainstream parties dismissed the CLCIA’s candidates as irrelevant because of they were standing on a single issue. But the CLCIA maintained that legalising cannabis covers many wider issues such as civil rights, health, education, law and order, environment, employment, taxation, Third World development, the arts and more.

Friday 4th October


The headquarters of the Campaign for the Legalisation of Cannabis International Association (CLCIA) were burnt out after an arson attack early on Friday morning. The offices, based in Jack’s Yard in Norwich, were completely destroyed and CLCIA lost all their campaigning and office equipment. Police arrested a local man, unknown to anyone at Jack’s Yard, soon after the attack. He was bailed on Saturday and then re-arrested on Sunday. The men’s motive appears to be pure arson, and not an attack on the CLCIA, who recently announced their plans to have Howard Marks stand as their candidate in the general election.
The fire, described as an inferno, was started at about 3am. There were rumours that a petrol bomb was thrown. Two people were seen running away from the scene and captured on "spy in the sky" video cameras, and one seemed to have a broken arm. The man who was arrested in connection with the attack, Paul Dunn, was arrested when he went to the Norfolk and Norwich hospital for treatment. The whole area was evacuated, and 20 families were moved into emergency accommodation.
As well as 7000 pounds of office equipment, including fax, photocopier and PC, CLCIA lost their stall, banners, samples and campaign literature. Fortunately they had copies of all the campaign records elsewhere. They also lost about 45 folders of various cannabis information, collected by Jack over the last 25 years, including past letters, magazines and samples. "The only cannabis lost was fibre, paper and cloth!" CLCIA’s Alun added. He appealed for help to rebuild the campaign and its archive: " If you are able to help, either financially or with equipment or back copies of magazines such as BT, Weed World, High Times, Red Eye Express or copies of any other publications please email me at webbooks@paston.co.uk".
Jack's Yard was owned by CLCIA members Jack and Tina, who gave a talk at the recent CHIC Cannabis Hemp Conference. The CLCIA have been based at the well known local junk yard since 1992, although Jack has been campaigning since the 70’s. Alun from CLCIA described it as "an essential part of the Norwich community, the starting place for many successful small businesses, and a place where anybody could pop in for a cuppa and chat, not only customers. Jack's business was recycling. Timber, doors, fire places, brick-a-brac, second hand books, toys, tools and oddments. All gone." They were not insured and compensation is unlikely, according to CLCIA, who are starting an appeal for help.
Before the fire CLCIA were the UK’s most-organised cannabis campaigners. They have around three hundred members and around 1000 supporters, and hold cannabis information stalls in Norwich city centre. Recently they announced their plans to put forward candidates on the single issue of legalisation of cannabis at the general election. Jack and Tina met infamous drug-smuggler Howard Marks, at the CHIC conference and asked him to stand in Norwich North for them. Marks, who has just published his autobiography, agreed. In Norwich South, CLCIA’s candidate will be John Adam, a 42 year old student of theoretical physics at UEA, who is married with 2 teenage daughters.
Everyone at Jack’s Yard is very depressed, but they are determined to rebuild both the business and the campaign. Everyone is speculating about the motives of the arsonists. "The question we want answering is why? There is a suspicion of course that it was an attack against CLCIA, as we have just gone public with our plans to invite Howard to stand as our candidate. But this is paranoia, maybe it was just some people into arson," said Derek of CLCIA.
LCC Scotland urge all their members and supporters to send messages of support and donations to CLCIA, 54C Peacock Street, Norwich. [telephone 01603 625780, email webbooks@paston.co.uk ] Their bank account is at Natwest, Magdalen St, Norwich, sort code 60-15-31, account number 69639310. (CLCIA).

Thursday 10th October


Two of Scotland's most senior law enforcement figures fell out publicly last night on the issue of cannabis. The new chief constable of Lothians and Borders, Roy Cameron, made a speech firmly opposing any changes to drug laws and attacking those who advocate harm-reduction. From the audience, one of Scotland's most senior judges, Lord McCluskey, called for cannabis to be decriminalised, saying that it had never caused a death.
Mr Cameron was giving the annual McClintock lecture, organised by Sacro, a penal reform pressure group. In his lecture "Drugs and the Community" he attacked the idea that soft drugs could be part of a normal lifestyle with few side-effects, and said cannabis users could easily go on to hard drugs. After the lecture, there was a question and answer session, in which Lord McClusky questioned those claims.
"I think we need to distinguish between a drug used by about 50 to 60 per cent of young people from time to time and which has never been known to cause a death. The only deaths caused by the use of cannabis have been caused by the fact that law enforcement agencies have sprayed the plants with weedkiller and the users have died from it," Lord McCluskey said. He also pointed out tobacco was the world's most addictive drug. "I would like to know what the basis is for continuing to say that cannabis use is a crime," he said.
"The chief constable referred to the lack of research [on drug use]. There have been royal commissions in the United Kingdom, South Africa, France and the States and, comprehensively, they have come to the conclusion that one ought to decriminalise the soft drug cannabis." For a variety of reasons none of the authorities in these countries had ever taken up the idea he explained. In July, Lord McClusky called for a debate on decriminalising drugs.

Saturday 12th October


The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party came 7th in the New Zealand general election, after 1.42 % of the electorate voted for them. They came well behind the main parties, but well in front of the Greens, Natural Law, Animals First, and other minor parties. This was the first election held under the new system of proportional representation. Parties needed to poll 5 %, to get extra MP’s. Readers might be interested to know that the Christian Coalition who came 6th, narrowly failed to get any MP’s, when they polled 4.35 % of the vote.
An ALCP spokesman said "we were a long way off, but we still did ok. We were expecting a better result but due to lack of money, volunteers, and experience, and public apathy, ignorance and fear, the outcome was still good. We have got the issue into the public arena, as the ballot papers included the parties’ logos, so every voter saw a colour hemp leaf!"
In the tiny south island, west coast community of Millerton, which grows a lot of cannabis to support itself, three fifths of the electorate voted for the ACLP. This was reported by the press agencies, and appeared in various papers. The community also voted ACLP candidate Tim Shadbolt in as Mayor. He is a well respected local figure who also came fourth in a Christchurch seat, with 8000 votes.
Almost all the cannabis consumed in New Zealand is home-grown. In 1994 the police seized 600 000 plants, and arrested around 25 000 people for cannabis offences. Cannabis is often sold openly from ‘supermarkets’ based in squatted houses, and promoted by word of mouth. These only last a couple of weeks before the police find out, close them down and arrest whichever gang member is present minding the shop. The gangs have support networks in prison, so members don’t mind risking arrest.

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