This Week in History

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July 13, 1931: The "International Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs" is convened in Geneva.

July 11, 1979: A deadly shootout between Colombian traffickers in broad daylight at Miami's Dadeland Mall brings the savagery of the Colombian cocaine lords to the attention of US law enforcement.

July 10, 1992: Manuel Noriega is convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

July 13, 1995: The New York Times reports the FDA has concluded for the first time that nicotine is an addictive drug that should be regulated.

July 9, 1997: Thirty-seven leading physicians including Dr. Joseph B. Martin, the new dean of Harvard's Medical School, Dr. Lonnie Bristow, past president of the American Medical Association, Dr. David C. Lewis, director of Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, and several former Reagan and Bush administration health officials, announced the formation of Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy. Declaring that "the current criminal justice-driven approach is not reducing, let alone controlling, drug abuse in America," they called for the US to explore "harm reduction" approaches to substance use and abuse which rely more upon medical science and public health than on public hysteria and incarceration.

July 10, 1997: Researchers at the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich release the final report on Switzerland's three-year heroin prescription trial. They conclude that the carefully supervised provision of heroin to long-term addicts with a history of failure in other treatment modalities resulted in a significant decrease in crime, mortality, disease transmission, treatment failure, and unemployment, at a substantial savings over other, less successful treatment methods.

July 13, 1998: The Associated Press reports that US drug czar Barry McCaffrey has created a controversy in The Netherlands over his erroneous claim that "The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States," which he explained by saying "that's drugs." In actuality the Dutch homicide rate is less than one fourth the US rate. The Dutch ambassador responds, "I must say that I find the timing of your remarks -- six days before your planned visit to the Netherlands with a view to gaining first-hand knowledge about Dutch drugs policy and its results, rather astonishing."

July 8, 1999: Mexican PAN and PRI legislators in the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico City exchanged heated accusations about each others' party associations with drug trafficking organizations.

July 12, 2002: The Wall Street Journal reports that former president Bill Clinton acknowledged, "I was wrong" to not lift the ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs.

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