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National Org. for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) v. Department of State

ELR Citation: 8 ELR 20572
Nos. No. 78-0428, 452 F. Supp. 1226/(D.D.C., 06/08/1978)

The court declares that defendants have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the effects of the State Department's herbicide spraying assistance program for the eradication of marijuana and poppy fields in Mexico. After determining that plaintiff has standing to bring this suit because of its informational interest in the problem, the court finds that United States participation in the program is a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. Defendants are directed to prepare, as they previously had agreed, an EIS on the effects of the spraying program in the United States. In view of defendants' willingness also to prepare an environmental assessment of the effects of the program in Mexico, the court assumes without deciding that NEPA applies to the wholly extraterritorial effects of the program. In order to determine the appropriate remedy, the court weighs the public policy interest in eradicating marijuana and heroin production against the need to know the environmental effects of federal actions and concludes that in this case the balance tips against imposing an injunction. The court also refuses to direct defendants to try to persuade Mexico to impose a moratorium on the spraying program until the EIS is prepared because such a judicial order would interfere with the president's conduct of foreign affairs.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Peter H. Meyers
2317 M St. NW, Washington DC 20037
(202) 223-3170

Counsel for Defendants
E. Lawrence Hannaway
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2741