This Week in History

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September 6, 1988: After two hearings, DEA administrative law judge Francis Young recommends shifting marijuana to Schedule II so it can be prescribed as medicine. He says, "It would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record." Judge Young notes that marijuana is safe and has a "currently accepted medical use in treatment" and that "marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

September 5, 1989: In his first nationally-televised address from the Oval Office, President George Bush declares that narcotics are "the gravest threat facing our nation," and that he is stepping up the war on drugs. Bush waves a packet of seized "crack" cocaine around on national television and declares, "This is crack cocaine, seized a few days ago by Drug Enforcement Agents in a park just across the street from the White House," a claim that is later debunked. During the same address, Bush also demands the death penalty for kingpins like Pablo Escobar and calls for the largest budget increase to date in the history of the drug war by pledging $2 billion in aid to the Andean nations.

September 5, 1990: Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee that casual drug users should be taken out and shot. He does not mention his own son's casual drug use.

September 4, 1991: US District Judge Juan Burciaga says, "The fight against drug traffickers is a wildfire that threatens to consume those fundamental rights of the individual deliberately enshrined in our Constitution."

September 1, 2003: In an effort to save over $30 million in general revenue in five years, Texas implements a new law that requires mandatory community supervision for first time drug offenders adjudged guilty of possession of less than one gram of certain controlled substances or less than one pound of marijuana. Under previous law, such offenders were only eligible for state jail community supervision or incarceration in a state jail facility.

September 2, 1994: In Detroit, Judge Helen E. Brown sentences Lazaro Vivas to life in prison for possession of over 650 grams of cocaine. Judge Brown tells Vivas, "I don’t think it's fair. It is not a sentence I would give you, if I had any choice. But I have to give you this sentence, because I have to follow the law. So, your sentence is life."

September 6, 1999: Jorge Castaneda, who later becomes Mexico's foreign minister during the Vicente Fox administration, writes in Newsweek: "In the end, legalization of certain substances may be the only way to bring prices down, and doing so may be the only remedy to some of the worst aspects of the drug plague: violence, corruption, and the collapse of the rule of law."

September 6, 2000: The Ottawa Citizen reports that Jaime Ruiz, the Colombian president's senior adviser, said, "From the Colombian point of view [legalization] is the easy solution. I mean, just legalize it and we won't have any more problems. Probably in five years we wouldn't even have guerrillas. No problems. We [would] have a great country with no problems."

September 4, 2001: Two prominent Michigan marijuana law reform activists are shot dead, following a week-long standoff at their 34-acre "Rainbow Farm" compound in Vandalia, Michigan. The confrontation followed a two-year investigation into allegations of marijuana use at the campground.

September 7, 2001: Thirteen current and former Miami police officers are accused by US authorities of shooting unarmed people and then conspiring to cover it up by planting evidence. The indictment is the latest scandal for the city's trouble-plagued police force. All of those charged are veterans assigned to SWAT teams, narcotics units or special crime-suppression teams in the late 1990s.

September 5, 2002: DEA agents arrest Valerie and Michael Corral of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) and destroy 150 marijuana plants intended for use by WAMM's members, most of whom are terminally ill.

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