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Weekly: This Week in History

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September 21, 1969: In an attempt to reduce marijuana smuggling from Mexico, the Customs Department, under Commissioner Myles Ambrose, acting on the orders of President Richard Nixon, launches Operation Intercept, subjecting every vehicle crossing the Mexican border to a three-minute inspection and to many observers marking the beginning of the modern war on drugs. The operation lasts two weeks and wreaks economic havoc on both sides of the border, but fails to seriously impact the flow of marijuana into the US.

September 25, 1996: Mere days before Congress adjourns for the year, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) introduces H.R. 4170, the "Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996." Within a few days, the bill attracts a coalition of 26 Republican cosponsors. The legislation demands either a life sentence or the death penalty for anyone caught bringing more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States.

September 24, 1997: A federal grand jury in San Diego indicts Mexican cartel leader Ramon Arellano-Felix on charges of drug smuggling. The same day he is added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

September 23, 2002: Mike and Valerie Corral's medical marijuana hospice near Santa Cruz, California, is raided just before dawn by federal agents. The Corrals are held at gunpoint while their co-op garden is destroyed.

September 26, 2002: In a move that eventually leads to a lawsuit alleging unlawful interference in an election, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awards a $3,000,000 grant to the governor's office in Nevada during the time when US Drug Czar John Walters is attempting to build opposition to Nevada's ballot initiative, Question 9, which proposes amending the state constitution by making the possession of three ounces or less of marijuana legal for adults. (Only two other states are awarded large SAMHSA grants at that time -- Michigan and Ohio, also facing drug reform initiatives.)

September 27, 2004: Struck by a drunk driver at four years old and paralyzed from the neck down, quadriplegic Jonathan Magbie dies from inadequate medical care while serving a ten day sentence for marijuana possession in a Washington, DC jail.

September 21, 2004: In a speech, US House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) says, "The illegal drug trade is the financial engine that fuels many terrorist organizations around the world, including Osama bin Laden."

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