This Week in History

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November 6, 1984: The DEA and Mexican officials raid a large marijuana cultivation and processing complex in the Chihuahua desert owned by kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero. Seven thousand campesinos work at the complex, where between 5,000-10,000 tons of high-grade marijuana worth $2.5 billion is found and destroyed. Time magazine calls this "the bust of the century," and it reveals the existence of Mexico's sophisticated marijuana smuggling industry.

November 8, 1984: The international marijuana seizure record is set (still in effect today) -- 4,260,000 lbs in Mexico.

November 6, 1985: Upping the ante in the battle against extradition, guerillas linked to the Medellin cartel occupy the Colombian Palace of Justice. At least 95 people are killed when the Colombian military attack after a 26-hour siege, including 11 Supreme Court justices. Many court documents, including all pending extradition requests, are destroyed by fire.

November 5, 1987: Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio breaks the story that Reagan Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg admitted to having smoked marijuana with his students "on a few occasions in the '70s" while he was a professor at Harvard. Two days later, President Reagan asks Ginsburg to withdraw his nomination.

November 8, 1987: The New York Times reports that Al Gore said he last used marijuana when he was 24. He said he first tried the drug at the end of his junior year at Harvard and used it again at the beginning of his senior year the next fall. He also said he used the drug "once or twice" while off-duty in an Army tour at Bien Hoa, Vietnam, on several occasions while he was in graduate school at Vanderbilt University and when he was an employee of a Nashville newspaper (The Nashville Tennessean). Three days later Gore is quoted in UPI: "We have to be honest and candid and open in dealing with the (drug) problem."

November 6, 1989: Former President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State George Shultz is quoted by the Associated Press: "We need at least to consider and examine forms of controlled legalization of drugs."

November 5, 1996: California's Proposition 215 (The Compassionate Use Act) passes with 56% of the voting public in favor. Proposition 200 (The Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act) in Arizona passes with 65% of the vote.

November 4, 1998: Voters in seven states overwhelmingly approve nine medical marijuana and larger drug policy reform initiatives.

November 3, 1999: The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (CJPF) cosponsors a press conference and releases a letter to Drug Czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey from distinguished American and Latin American leaders who reject the US export of the failed "war on drugs" to Latin America.

November 7, 2000: In California, citizens vote 61%-39% to pass Proposition 36, diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment rather than prison for first and second offenses. In Mendocino County voters approve a measure decriminalizing personal use and growth of up to 25 marijuana plants -- the Green Party-sponsored Measure G wins 52% of the vote.

November 3, 2001: DEA raids the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, a medical marijuana distribution facility, arresting its president, Scott Imler. City officials condemn the raid at a press conference attended by more than 100 center members.

November 9, 2001: The San Jose Mercury News reports that despite objections from former first lady Betty Ford and drug-treatment authorities, the US Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of John Walters as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

November 9, 2001: The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Ecstasy in a study to treat victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

November 5, 2002: Reuters reports that researchers say alcohol and violence pose more of an immediate health hazard than drugs for young adults who enjoy clubbing. Researchers say that drugs such as ecstasy, speed, cocaine and heroin are a serious problem in clubs, but assaults fueled by alcohol are the main reason clubbers seek hospital treatment.

November 7, 2002: Ruling in favor of NORML Foundation and Media Access Project complaints, the Federal Communications Commission says that public service announcements broadcast under the auspices of the White House drug office advertising program must identify themselves as being part of that program. As a result of the ruling, broadcasters are forced to insert tag lines stating "sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy."

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