This Week in History

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August 15, 1988: In his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, George Herbert Walker Bush states, "I want a drug-free America. Tonight, I challenge the young people of our country to shut down the drug dealers around the world... My Administration will be telling the dealers, 'Whatever we have to do, we'll do, but your day is over. You're history.'"

August 18, 1989: Luis Carlos Galan, a Colombian presidential candidate who spoke in favor of extradition, is assassinated at a campaign rally near Bogota. That evening, President Virgilio Barco Vargas issues an emergency decree reestablishing the policy of extradition. In response, the "Extraditables" declare all-out war against the Colombian government and begin a bombing/murder campaign that lasts until January 1991.

August 16, 1996: While visiting San Francisco, US drug czar Barry McCaffrey claims to media, "There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed. This is not science. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax and sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show." Advocates later point out that there is in fact scientific evidence supporting medical marijuana.

August 18, 1996: In San Francisco, a city church distributes marijuana to patients who possess a doctor's recommendation in wake of the temporary injunction closing the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. "I believe the moral stance [in this instance] is to break the law to make this marijuana available," said Rev. Jim Mitulski of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. "Our church's spiritual vitality has always come from a willingness to act where people have been reluctant to act. This is not a bystander church."

August 12, 1997: The US Justice Department announces that there will be no indictments issued in the killing of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., an 18-year-old American citizen killed by US Marines on an anti-drug patrol while he was herding goats near the border town of Redford, Texas. Lt. General Carlton W. Fulford, who conducted an internal military review of the incident, said the killing might not have happened at all had civilian law enforcement agencies been patrolling the border.

August 13, 1998: Reuters reports that the US repeatedly scandalized the Colombian presidency of Ernesto Samper with allegations that he had used drug money from anti-American groups to fund his 1994 presidential campaign, and eventually the US used that as an excuse to decertify Colombia and withdraw foreign aid.

August 17, 1999: CNN reports that federal authorities say they are sweeping up the last few indicted members of a major drug trafficking network that shipped tons of mostly Colombian cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States. Nearly 100 suspects have been indicted in "Operation Southwest Express" and 77 have been arrested in raids in 14 cities.

August 14, 2002: Twelve hundred medical marijuana patients, many suffering from life-threatening illnesses, lose their supply of medicine when Ontario police raid the Toronto Compassion Centre.

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