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This Week in History

June 26, 1936: The Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs is signed in Geneva.

June 24, 1982: During remarks about Executive Order 12368 made from the White House's Rose Garden, President Ronald Reagan says, "We're taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts. We're running up a battle flag."

June 27, 1991: The Supreme Court upholds, in a 5-4 decision, a Michigan statute imposing a mandatory sentence of life without possibility of parole for anyone convicted of possession of more than 650 grams (about 1.5 pounds) of cocaine.

June 23, 1999: New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson says, "The nation's so-called War on Drugs has been a miserable failure. It hasn't worked. The drug problem is getting worse. I think it is the number one problem facing this country today... We really need to put all the options on the table... and one of the things that's going to get talked about is decriminalization... What I'm trying to do here is launch discussion."

June 26, 2001: China marks a UN international anti-drug day by holding rallies where piles of narcotics are burned and 60 people are executed for drug offenses. Chinese authorities execute hundreds of people since April in a crime crackdown labeled "Strike Hard" that allowed for speeded up trials and broader use of the death penalty. [The macabre ritual was repeated each year subsequently, but lack of reports of it suggest it may have ceased as a result of the nation's recent scale-back in executions.]

June 27, 2001: A Newsday article titled "Census: War on Drugs Hits Blacks," reports: Black men make up less than 3 percent of Connecticut's population but account for 47 percent of inmates in prisons, jails and halfway houses, 2000 census figures show.

June 22, 2002: The General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association passes an "Alternatives to the War on Drugs" Statement of Conscience.

June 27, 2002: In Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the Supreme Court decides 6-3 to uphold the most sweeping drug-testing policy yet to come before the Court -- a testing requirement for any public school student seeking to take part in any extracurricular activity, the near-equivalent of a universal testing policy.

June 25, 2003: The Superior Administrative Court of Cundinamarca, Colombia orders a stop to the spraying of glyphosate herbicides until the government complies with the environmental management plan for the eradication program and mandates a series of studies to protect public health and the environment.

This Week in History

June 8, 1993: Leading conservative intellectual William F. Buckley says in an interview, "the amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense -- the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditures of social energy."

June 13, 1994: The RAND Corporation releases a study finding that drug treatment programs are seven times more cost effective for reducing cocaine use than law enforcement efforts, 11 times more effective than border interdiction and 23 times more effective than source country efforts.

June 8, 1998: A well-publicized letter signed by more than 600 international leaders and high-profile, influential professionals from various fields is written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to reconsider "failed and futile drug war policies" as the signers believe the war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself. The signatories call for opening the debate to alternative approaches to drug abuse based on common sense, science, public health and human rights.

June 12, 1998: US drug czar Barry McCaffrey announces at the United Nations his plan for drug warriors to dominate the Internet by adding a massive number of web sites.

June 9, 2000: Human Rights Watch releases a study finding that Illinois is the worst state for racial disparity among jailed drug offenders. Illinois' black men are 57 times more likely than white men to be sent to prison on drug charges, and blacks comprise 90 percent of all prison admissions in Illinois for drug charges. Though federal studies show that white drug users outnumber black drug users 5-to-1, blacks make up about 62 percent of prisoners incarcerated on drug charges, compared with 36 percent of whites.

June 11, 2001: In a case relating to indoor marijuana-growing operations, the US Supreme Court rules that the use by the police of a thermal imaging device to detect patterns of heat coming from a private home is a search that requires a warrant.

June 7, 2003: Cheryl Miller, a multiple sclerosis patient and leading medical marijuana advocate, dies from pneumonia and other MS-related complications at 57 years old. She is survived by her husband, Jim, who remains active in the movement.

June 10, 2004: The New York Times publishes an article about K-Drink, a new beverage containing coca produced by the Peruvian company Kokka Royal Food & Drink. The article reminds readers that "In this region of South America, coca tea is so common and so accepted that it has even been regularly served in the American embassy in Bolivia."

This Week in History

May 27, 1963: President Nathan M. Pusey of Harvard University announces that an assistant professor of clinical psychology and education has been fired. The man dismissed was Dr. Richard Alpert, later known as "Ram Dass."

May 29, 1969: The Canadian government forms the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical use of Drugs, which ultimately issues the famed LeDain report, recommending that simple possession of cannabis and cultivation for personal use be permitted. The report contradicts almost all of the common fallacies held by some of the general public. During an interview in 1998, LeDain blames politicians for the fact that virtually none of the commission's recommendations were made into law.

May 26, 1971: In tapes revealed long after his presidency ended, President Richard M. Nixon says, "You know it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it's because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there's so many, all the greatest psychiatrists are Jewish."

May 25, 1973: The NBC Evening News reports that 28 marines and 18 sailors handling the president's yacht were transferred and reassigned from Camp David due to marijuana offenses.

May 30, 1977: Newsweek runs a story on cocaine reporting that "Among hostesses in the smart sets of Los Angeles and New York, a little cocaine, like Dom Perignon and Beluga caviar, is now de rigueur at dinners. Some party givers pass it around along with canapes on silver trays... the user experiences a feeling of potency, of confidence, of energy."

May 24, 1988: The domestic hashish seizure record is set (still in effect today) -- 75,066 pounds in San Francisco, California.

May 24, 1993: At 3:45pm, Juan Jesus Cardinal Posados Ocampo, the archbishop of Guadalajara, is assassinated at Hidalgo International Airport in Guadalajara by San Diego gang members hired by the Arellano-Felix Organization. As the archbishop's car arrives in the parking lot across the street from the terminal, a young man opens the door and opens fire, while half a dozen other gunmen spray the scene killing the driver and five bystanders, including an old woman, her nephew and a startled businessman with a cell phone in his hand.

May 28, 1994: President Clinton's appointed director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas Constantine, says in a Washington Times interview: "Many times people talk about the nonviolent drug offender. That is a rare species. There is not some sterile drug type not involved in violence -- there is no drug user who is contributing some good to the community -- they are contributing nothing but evil."

Did You Know? Historical Timeline of Marijuana and Medicine

Did you know that marijuana's documented history as a medicine dates back to 2900 BC? Read about it in Historical Timeline -- History of Marijuana as Medicine - 2900 BC to Present, on http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org, part of the ProCon.org family.

Follow Drug War Chronicle for more important facts from ProCon.org over the next few weeks, or sign up for ProCon.org's email list or RSS feed. Click here for last week's Chronicle Did You Know segment.

ProCon.org is a web site promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan primarily pro-con format.

Did You Know? Historical Timeline of Drugs and Sports

Did you know that historical references to drug use in sports goes back to the 8th century BC? Read about the practices and issues from ancient times through the present, in Historical Timeline -- History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports, on http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org, part of the ProCon.org family.

Follow Drug War Chronicle for more important facts from ProCon.org over the next few weeks, or sign up for ProCon.org's email list or RSS feed. Click here for last week's Chronicle Did You Know segment.

ProCon.org is a web site promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan primarily pro-con format.

This Week in History

May 18, 1971: Tapes released years later reveal that sometime between 12:16pm and 12:35pm, President Nixon says to entertainer Art Linkletter, "... radical demonstrators that were here... two weeks ago... They're all on drugs, virtually all."

May 19, 1988: Carlos Lehder is convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus an additional 135 years. He had been captured by the Colombian National Police at a safe house owned by Pablo Escobar and extradited to the US.

May 20, 1991: The domestic heroin seizure record is set (still in effect today) -- 1,071 pounds in Oakland, California.

May 20, 1997: Eighteen year-old Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., of Redford, Texas, becomes the first American to be killed on American soil by US soldiers in peacetime when he is shot on his own property by camouflaged Marines involved in a Joint Task Force-6 border drug interdiction operation. No drugs are found. Hernandez had never been suspected of or arrested for any criminal or drug-related activity.

May 22, 1997: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mayor John Norquist signs a measure into law decriminalizing first time possession of small amounts of marijuana after the proposal squeaks by the city council.

May 23, 2000: Eighty-five US troops arrive in Guatemala to participate in the two-week-long "Operation Maya Jaguar," intended to provide training for Guatemalan police, to carry out seizures of illegal drug shipments, and to facilitate joint counternarcotics operations.

May 17, 2001: Canada's House of Commons passes a unanimous motion to create a committee to examine the issue of non-medical drugs in Canada. Members of all five parties say they intend to discuss legalization, or at least decriminalization, of marijuana as part of a sweeping look at the country's drug strategy.

May 21, 2001: Geraldine Fijneman, head of the Amsterdam branch of the ayahuasca-using Santo Daime church, is acquitted by a Dutch court. Fijneman had owned, transported and distributed a DMT-containing substance, but the court ruled that her constitutional right to Freedom of Religion must be respected.

May 22, 2003: Maryland becomes the ninth state to relax restrictions on medicinal marijuana use for seriously ill patients when Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signs a bill reducing the maximum penalty to a $100 fine. The law goes into effect on October 1. Ehrlich, the first Republican governor to sign a bill relaxing penalties for medicinal use of marijuana, signs the measure despite pressure from the Bush administration to veto it.

This Week in History

May 3, 1994: Dear Abby states publicly in her column that "Just as bootleggers were forced out of business in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed, making the sale of liquor legal (thus eliminating racketeering), the legalization of drugs would put drug dealers out of business. It also would guarantee government approved quality, and the tax on drugs would provide an ongoing source of revenue for drug-education programs."

May 5, 2001: The United States is voted off the United Nations Narcotics Control Board, the 13-member commission that monitors compliance with UN drug conventions on substance abuse and illegal trafficking.

May 6, 2001: Sydney, Australia, opens its first legal heroin injection room in the Kings Cross Neighborhood, operated by the Uniting Church.

May 9, 2001: The Bush Administration announces its intention to nominate US Representative Asa Hutchinson, Republican of Arkansas, to the position of Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, replacing Acting Administrator Donnie Marshall.

May 9, 2001: At a hearing, Attorney General John Ashcroft testifies that the Justice Department has no higher priority than preventing terrorism. But a day later the department issues budgetary guidance for FY 2003 to make reducing the trafficking of illegal drugs one of the two top priorities.

May 8, 2002: The Black Ministers Council of New Jersey announces a campaign to inform minority drivers that they have a right to refuse to submit to automobile consent searches, which have been the focus of the fight over racial profiling. The ministers said at a State House news conference that they would begin their "Just Say No" campaign the following week, in the form of messages to minority churches and the news media.

May 6, 2004: The Houston Chronicle reports that Montel Williams threw his support behind legalizing medical marijuana in New York, saying pot helps him cope with multiple sclerosis. Williams, who was diagnosed with a neurological disease in 1999, says he uses marijuana every night before bed to relieve the pain in his legs and feet. "I'm breaking the law every day, and I will continue to break the law," said Williams, host of the syndicated Montel Williams Show.

This Week in History

April 27, 1937: In a statement before the US House of Representative Ways and Means Committee, Clinton Hester testifies that a Washington Times editorial published shortly before Congress held its first hearing on the marijuana issue argued: "The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug and American children must be protected against it."

May 1, 1972: Nobel Prize laureate for economics Milton Friedman is quoted in Newsweek: "Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order?"

April 30, 1984: Colombian Minister of Justice Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, who had crusaded against the Medellin cartel, is assassinated by motorcycle-riding contract killers. President Belisario Betancur, who had opposed extradition, announces, "We will extradite Colombians." Carlos Lehder is the first to be put on the list. The crackdown forces the Ochoa family, Escobar, and Óscar Rodríguez Gacha to flee to Panama for several months. A few months later, Escobar is indicted for Lara Bonilla's murder and the Ochoas and Rodríguez Gacha named as material witnesses.

April 29, 1996: At a speech at a Miami high school, President Clinton calls for a war on drugs -- for the second time. General Barry McCaffrey, the nation's drug czar, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on May 1 that "everything the president has announced is already being done. There's nothing new here."

May 2, 2001: The Louisiana Senate, voting 29-5, passes sweeping legislation to bring relief to an overflowing state prison system, including ending mandatory prison time for possession of small quantities of drugs.

May 1, 2003: The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003 (IDAPA) is signed into law, among other things amending a section of the Controlled Substances Act to target rave organizers. It shifts the statute's emphasis from punishing those who establish places where drugs are made and consumed, such as "crack houses," to those who knowingly maintain "drug-involved premises," including outdoor events such as rock concerts. In addition to the criminal penalties in the original statute, the amended statute adds a civil penalty, thereby lowering the standard of proof from beyond a reasonable doubt to a preponderance of evidence.

This Week in History

April 25, 1894: The British Indian Hemp Drug Commission concludes that cannabis has no addictive properties, some medical uses, and a number of positive emotional and social benefits.

April 19, 1943: Albert Hoffman takes the first dose of LSD, in Basel, Switzerland.

April 23, 1998: The Ottawa Citizen reports that Canadians who tell US border officials the truth about their past use of marijuana will be denied entry to America indefinitely.

April 25, 2000: Despite the formal opposition of the Hawaiian Catholic Church, the Hawaii State Senate passes medical marijuana legislation, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Alaska, and Arizona in shielding medical marijuana patients from criminal prosecution.

April 20, 2001: American Christian missionary Veronica Bowers and her seven month-old daughter, Charity, are killed when their small plane is shot out of the sky by a Peruvian military jet as part of a CIA-backed program that patrols the Amazon Basin for drug couriers. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigates and concludes the missionary pilot did nothing wrong and should not have come under fire.

April 24, 2001: In Oklahoma, Will Foster, 42, a medical marijuana patient who in 1995 was sentenced to 93 years in prison for growing 39 marijuana plants in his basement, is released on parole. Foster used marijuana to relieve chronic pain caused by acute rheumatoid arthritis. "My medical use of marijuana never interfered with my work, I ran a successful business," said Foster. He added, "I was minding my own business taking care of my health and my family. What was I doing to anybody that got me 93 years?"

April 20, 2002: Robin Prosser of Missoula, Montana begins a hunger strike demanding access to government grown marijuana to help her treat symptoms of Lupus. Prosser says that marijuana helps combat the illness and relieves her pain and stress.

April 21, 2004: US Circuit Court Judge Jeremy Fogel bars the US Dept. of Justice from interfering with Mike and Valerie Corral, heads of a medical marijuana hospice near Santa Cruz, California, with their 250 patients, or with their marijuana garden. Judge Fogel cites Raich v. Ashcroft, a 2004 Ninth Circuit decision which found the federal government has no jurisdiction over patients who grow their own plants.

April 22, 2004: The Pacific edition of the magazine Stars and Stripes reports that twenty sailors assigned to Commander, Naval Forces Marianas (Guam) were arrested on drug-related charges since late 2003 alone.

This Week in History

April 14, 1989: A congressional subcommittee on Narcotics, Law Enforcement, and Foreign Policy, chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), issues a report finding that US efforts to combat drug trafficking were undermined by the Reagan administration's fear of jeopardizing its objectives in the Nicaraguan civil war. The report concludes that the administration ignored evidence of drug trafficking by the Contras and continued to provide them with aid.

April 13, 1995: The US Sentencing Commission votes to equalize penalties for crack and powder cocaine by equalizing quantities triggering mandatory trafficking and possession offenses, a proposal that would have become law on November 1 if Congress took no action. Attorney General Janet Reno urges Congress to reject it the next day.

April 15, 1998: California Superior Court Judge David Garcia orders Dennis Peron, author of Proposition 215, to cease operations of his Cannabis Cultivators' Club (CCC) in San Francisco. Judge Garcia writes, "The court finds uncontradicted evidence in this record that defendant Peron is currently engaging in illegal sales of marijuana." The illegal sales, the court said, were to "primary caregivers," not patients as defined by California's medical marijuana law. Peron agrees to resign as head of the CCC in an effort to keep the operation open.

April 16, 1998: The Iowa Legislature overwhelmingly approves a bill enhancing marijuana penalties for repeat offenders, and enabling police officers to conduct drug tests on drivers who appear to be operating under the influence of marijuana.

April 18, 2001: Kenneth Hayes and Michael Foley are acquitted by a Sonoma County, California jury on charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana. The two were arrested for growing 899 marijuana plants for the 1,200 members of a San Francisco medical marijuana club called CHAMP (Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems).

April 12, 2002: Canada's Toronto Sun reports that a recent study cites Ontario's indoor marijuana industry as the third largest agricultural sector in the province, a $1-billion industry surpassed only by dairy's $1.3 billion and beef cattle's $1.2 billion. Add to that the millions being harvested from outdoor crops and marijuana cultivation in this province moves into the top spot on the list.

April 17, 2002: While under the influence of amphetamines issued to them by the US government in order to stay awake during the mission, two US pilots mistakenly drop a bomb that kills four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The Air Force-issued "go pills" may have impaired the pilots' judgment, says David Beck, lawyer for Maj. William Umbach, adding that the pilots were given antidepressants upon returning from their mission. "The Air Force has a problem. They have administered 'go pills' to soldiers that the manufacturers have stated affect performance and judgment," Beck said.

April 16, 2004: Richard Paey, a wheelchair-bound pain patient, is sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Florida judge. Paey, who was convicted of forging prescriptions for pills to ease chronic, severe back pain dating from failed surgeries after an auto accident in 1985, was sentenced under Florida law as a drug dealer -- though even prosecutors conceded there is no evidence he did anything other than consume the opioid pain relievers himself. (Paey is later pardoned by Gov. Charlie Crist.)

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