Friday, March 24, 2000

Actor loses round in hemp battle

Harrelson ordered to stand trial

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Actor Woody Harrelson on Thursday lost his battle to draw a legal line between industrial hemp and its illegal cousin marijuana.

        The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled there is no difference and said Mr. Harrelson has to go back to Lee County to be tried for possession of marijuana.

        Mr. Harrelson planted four hemp seeds in 1996, knowing he would be arrested so he could challenge the law outlawing possession of any part of the cannabis plant.

        Through three courts, the star of Natural Born Killers and The People vs. Larry Flynt has argued the statute is unconstitutional because it does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp, which contains only minute amounts of the substance that makes marijuana smokers high — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

        “The mere fact that hemp may contain less THC than marijuana is of no consequence,” Justice Donald Wintersheimer wrote.

        Mr. Harrelson's trial for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor that carries a potential fine and little possibility for jail time, has been put off pending his appeals. After one earlier hearing on his case, Mr. Harrelson said he was prepared to stand trial to continue his fight.


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