MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Woody Harrelson Unloads on Pot Trial Judge
Woody Harrelson's testimony yesterday in the Sacramento trial of B.E. Smith, a Trinity County medical marijuana activist, nearly landed the actor in jail. When Harrelson angrily asked U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell, "How do you sleep at night?" the judge warned the former "Cheers" star that he might again find himself behind a bar -- in jail -- "if he continued to defy the court." Harrelson testified that Smith is his "good friend and mentor," and the "last free man in America." Earlier this week, Harrelson wrote a letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee stating, "Apparently in Judge Burrell's courtroom, he is not content for lady justice to be blind; she must also be deaf, dumb, bound, gagged, raped and dismembered." Harrelson was the final witness in Smith's trial -- the defendant testified yesterday that "smoking marijuana has successfully curbed his abuse of alcohol" -- and the jury is continuing deliberations today (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 5/21).
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C.
In related news, the Clinton administration is expected today to announce that it will "release its hold on research-quality marijuana" to scientists who want to study the drug. The Los Angeles Times reports that for most of the past two decades, "the production and distribution of marijuana for clinical research has been restricted under several federal laws and international agreements, making it all but impossible for non-federally funded researchers to obtain it." A senior administration official said the policy change could "open the door" to a host of new research. Pot advocates hailed the decision. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation, said, "For the last 22 years, the federal government has had a lock on the use of whole smoked marijuana for studies -- they grow it at the University of Mississippi ... We've been imploring the government to come up with a system that will allow these studies to go forward. We want to do the science, but marijuana has become so politicized." The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said it will "facilitate" research to "evaluate these pending public health questions" (Cimons, 5/21).