This Week in History

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December 5, 1933: The passage of the 21st Amendment repeals prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition ends a little after 5:00pm EST when Utah becomes the 36th state to ratify the amendment.

December 2, 1993: Notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar is hunted down and killed by Colombian police making use of US technology. At his funeral days later, tens of thousands of Medellin residents come out to mourn him.

December 7, 1993: During a speech at the National Press Club, US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders says: "I do feel that we would markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized, but I don't know all the ramifications of this... I do feel that we need to do some studies. In some of the countries that have legalized drugs, they certainly have shown that there has been a reduction in their crime rate and that there has been no increase in the drug use rate."

December 3, 1998: Colombian police seize about seven tons of cocaine in Cartagena, Colombia, destined for the US via Cuba.

December 1, 2000: President of Uruguay Jorge Batlle is quoted in El Observador suggesting legalization of drugs.

December 6, 2000: Belgium's parliament decriminalizes possession, consumption and trade in up to five grams of marijuana or hashish.

December 4, 2001: Canada's Auditor General releases a report on the federal government's role in dealing with illicit drugs. Part of the report reads: "Eleven federal departments and agencies are involved in the effort to control illicit drugs at a cost of about $500 million a year... But they don't know the extent of the problem and whether or not they are succeeding in their efforts."

December 7, 2001: John P. Walters is sworn in as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

December 7, 2001: The Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) reports that a Poly High School senior who played bass in the school orchestra committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after being booked on marijuana possession charges. His aunt said he was humiliated by his arrest. "All he repeated to his mother on the way home was 'they treated me like a common criminal,'" she said.

December 2, 2002: Reuters reports that an independent study concluded marijuana use does not lead teenagers to experiment with hard drugs like heroin or cocaine. The study by the private, nonprofit RAND Drug Policy Research Center countered the theory that marijuana acts as a so-called gateway drug to more harmful narcotics, a key argument prohibitionists use against legalizing marijuana in the United States.

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