BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Showbiz 
Music 
Film 
Arts 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Reviews 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 25 August, 2000, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Harrelson cleared of drugs charge
Woody Harrelson (left) with supporters
A delighted Harrelson (left) celebrates with his supporters
Actor Woody Harrelson has been cleared of possessing marijuana following a four-year court battle.

The 39-year-old performer risked a jail sentence by deliberately planting industrial hemp seeds to prove it was not the same as cannabis.

But he was cleared by a jury in Kentucky after just 25 minutes of deliberation.

"Regardless of what the Supreme Court says and regardless of what the legislators say, these people don't think it's right that someone should go to jail for growing industrial hemp," Harrelson said after the case.

Woody Harrelson
The jury removed any seeds of doubt
The jury heard he planted four seeds in 1996, knowing full well he would be prosecuted.

The Kentucky Supreme Court paved the way for a trial earlier this year when it ruled there was no difference between marijuana and hemp, even though the latter contains minute amounts of the tetrahydrocannabinol substance which gets marijuana users high.

Challenge

Harrelson, a keen environmentalist who has invested in a hemp clothing company, argued that the two were totally different and set out to challenge a law banning possession of any part of the cannabis plant.

Lee County Attorney Tom Jones told the jury to send him to jail for at least 30 days because he had misused his fame to break the law.

After the case Jones said: "He seems like a likeable guy....he's guilty as sin, but I respect the jury's decision.

"The people of Lee County have always been fair, I've lost cases before, and I'll lose again."

Harrelson, best known for his roles in Natural Born Killers, The People vs Larry Flynt and TV series Cheers, was delighted with the outcome, but admitted he was terrified of going to prison.

"I was afraid, there was a very real possibility of going to jail. Technically I violated the law according to what the Supreme Court says the law was."

The actor added: "I'm not planting any more seeds, I don't want to go through this again."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

24 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Harrelson's hemp crusade
27 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Harrelson supports father's trial battle
08 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Director faces lawsuit over violent movie
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories