Newsbrief: DEA Tries RAVE Act Intimidation Again, But Activists Successfully Fight Back 12/5/03

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Oregon NORML held its Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards banquet November 15 at the Lloyd Center DoubleTree Hotel, but not before successfully fending off an effort by the DEA to scare the hotel into canceling the event. As was the case earlier this year in Montana (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/290/dearave.shtml), the DEA attempted to use the RAVE Act to shut down an event it didn't like. Under provisions of the RAVE Act, the owners or operators of venues where drugs are present could be subject to severe civil and criminal sanctions.

According to the Portland alternative paper the Willamette Week, two days before the event, Ken Magee of the Oregon DEA office sent a letter to the hotel noting Oregon NORML's planned event and raising the specter of a RAVE Act prosecution. Did the hotel intend to "knowingly permit... the illegal possession, conspiracy to possess or to aid and abet the possession of marijuana"? asked Magee.

Good corporate citizen that it is, the DoubleTree promptly canceled the event. But Oregon NORML was having none of that. Instead, the group teamed up with the Oregon ACLU, Graham Boyd of the national ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project, and Portland attorney Michael Harting to send letters to the hotel and the DEA threatening legal action for breach of contract and violation of the First Amendment.

A compromise ensued. Oregon NORML ditched its "Beautiful Bud Award" and the hotel relented. Afterwords, Magee told the Week that he wasn't trying to block the event, only ensure that no drugs were used there. But this is the second time the DEA has blatantly attempted to suppress drug reform events with RAVE Act threats. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who got the act passed by sneaking it into another, more popular bill, has said this is not what he intended the RAVE Act to do. Maybe someone should let the senator know what's going on.

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