This Week in History

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December 24, 1912: Merck patents MDMA. Its psychoactive effects remain unknown for more than 60 years, but the drug eventually becomes popularized under the slang term "ecstasy."

December 28, 1992: ABC Television airs a major special on the drug war in Bolivia which, according to the Bush Administration, is our "best hope" for winning the drug war in South America. ABC concludes decisively that there is no hope and that the war on drug production has already been lost.

December 25, 1994: The Buffalo News reports, "Troubled with three long-term sentences he felt forced to make in recent weeks, US District Judge John T. Curtin says he will stop hearing drug cases in the coming year rather than continue to be part of a system of punishment that 'just isn't working.'" Curtin says he would rather see the federal government spend more money on education, counseling, and drug prevention programs, rather than towards putting people in prison. "You don't even have to think of it in moral terms. In financial terms, it just isn't working," Curtin said.

December 23, 1995: A British Medical Journal editorial entitled "The War on Drugs" states, "The British government's drug strategy for the next three years states baldly 'There will be no legalization of any currently controlled drugs.' But some legalization would help."

December 26, 1997: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom said it is time to treat heroin abuse less as a crime and more like a medical problem. He added that efforts to halt drugs at the border or to "Just Say No" have failed.

December 24, 1998: The Times (UK) reports that the Prince of Wales expressed an interest in the effectiveness of cannabis in relieving the pain of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. During his annual visit to the Sue Ryder Home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, he asked MS patient Karen Drake: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it." Drake, 36, said afterwards: "I was surprised but I think I would like at least to try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the good."

December 24, 2001: The North Carolina Lexington Dispatch reports the dismissal of 65 criminal cases investigated by three county narcotics officers charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to distribute drugs. According to a federal affidavit issued in the case, law enforcement officers abused their authority in one or more ways, including writing fake search warrants, planting evidence and fabricating charges, keeping drugs and money seized during arrests, attempting to extort more money from the people arrested, and intimidating suspects and potential witnesses.

December 22, 2003: The Annenberg School for Communication (ASC) at the University of Pennsylvania releases a report on the Office of National Drug Control Policy's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. ASC was contracted by ONDCP to analyze the campaign as a whole and their work on marijuana specifically. ASC found there is little evidence that the tens of millions being spent every year are having any discernible impact on use of or attitudes toward marijuana among the nation's youth.

December 25, 2003: The Philippine Star reports that the campaign to rid the island of drugs by 2010 has resulted in cramming jails and paralyzing the justice system.

December 27, 2004: The Washington Post runs an article about FDA approval of MDMA/cancer anxiety research and the general renewal of research into the therapeutic potential of MDMA and psychedelic compounds.

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