Weekly: This Week in History

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February 9, 1909: Congress passes the Opium Exclusion Act.

February 14, 1929: St. Valentine's Day Massacre symbolizes the mob violence of the Prohibition era.

February 12, 1961: In the first televised challenge to marijuana prohibition, Beat poet Allan Ginsberg uses an appearance on the John Crosby show to argue for the harmlessness of marijuana. By the end of the program, Crosby and guests author Norman Mailer and anthropologist Ashley Montague all joined Ginsberg in agreeing the current laws were too extreme.

February 11, 1982: Attorney General William French Smith grants an exemption sparing the CIA from a legal requirement to report on drug smuggling by agency assets. The exemption had been secretly engineered by CIA Director William J. Casey according to a letter placed into the Congressional Record by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., on May 7, 1998, which establishes that Casey foresaw the legal dilemma which the CIA would encounter should federal law require it to report on illicit narcotics smuggling by its agents.

February 11, 1988: The international heroin seizure record is set -- 2,816 pounds in Bangkok, Thailand.

February 14, 1995: The U.S. House of Representatives approves several drug-related bills, including H.R. 728, a bill that replaces the police ($8.8 billion), prevention ($4 billion), and drug courts ($1 billion) provisions of the 1994 Crime Act with a $10 billion block grant program.

February 14, 1996: Fairfax Police Chief Jim Anderson becomes one of the latest officials to speak out in favor of California's medical marijuana initiative when he says, "I believe there is adequate unbiased and scientific evidence that marijuana does have medicinal benefit."

February 10, 1998: The United Kingdom House of Lords announces an investigation into the recreational and medical use of marijuana to be conducted by the Lords Select Committee. Announcement of the inquiry follows a campaign by the UK's Independent to decriminalize marijuana, a report from the British Medical Association urging Ministers to consider allowing the medical use of cannabinoids, and a plea from Lord Chief Justice Lord Bingham of Cornhill, who says marijuana decriminalization deserves "detached, objective, [and] independent consideration."

February 11, 1999: Researchers in Boston, Massachusetts, announce they found no link between marijuana use by pregnant mothers and miscarriages. The study does document a strong link between tobacco consumption and miscarriages, and also shows an increased risk of miscarriage by mothers who use cocaine.

February 9, 2000: Deborah Lynn Quinn, born with no arms or legs, is sentenced to one year in an Arizona prison for marijuana possession and violating probation on a previous drug offense, the attempted sale of four grams of marijuana to a police informant for $20. Quinn requires around the clock care for feeding, bathing, and hygiene.

February 11, 2001: President Jorge Battle of Uruguay becomes the first head of state in Latin America to call for drug legalization.

February 12, 2002: The same day that President George W. Bush issues his National Drug Control Strategy, DEA agents raid the Harm Reduction Center, a medical marijuana club in San Francisco.

February 15, 2002: The ImpacTeen Illicit Drug Team releases a report entitled "Illicit Drug Policies: Selected Laws from the 50 States." The report says that state statutory drug laws vary significantly across the United States, contradicting a commonly-held assumption that state drug policies follow federal drug policy. For instance, depending on the state, a first time offender may be subject to anywhere from one year to lifetime imprisonment and $5,000 to $1 million in fines for the sale of one ecstasy pill. The report also shows that, as of January 1, 2000, 24 states and the District of Columbia enacted legislation allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, despite the federal government's objections.

February 10, 2003: South Dakota's HB 1153 passes the state's House of Representatives. The bill revises the current penalties for marijuana distribution to include "intent to distribute."

February 14, 2004: The Daytona Beach News Journal reports that Volusia County sheriff's investigators seized bricks of marijuana during several drug busts that were, in fact, bricks they had already seized before. As it turned out, half a million dollars' worth of drugs was stolen from their evidence compound by a former evidence manager. How many times it may have happened prior wasn't known.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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