This Week in History

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February 1, 1909: The International Opium Commission convenes in Shanghai. Heading the US delegation are Dr. Hamilton Wright and Episcopal Bishop Henry Brent, who both try to convince the international delegation of the immoral and evil effects of opium.

January 31, 1945: A New York Times article reports an increase in marijuana trafficking and mentions that an official at the Treasury Department says that traffic in some instances reaches "the proportion of well-financed national and international conspirators." One of the New York gangs which came under investigation was the "107th Street Mob," formerly headed by the notorious mobster "Lucky" Luciano.

January 28, 1972: The Nixon Administration creates the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) to establish joint federal/local task forces to fight the drug trade at the street level. Myles Ambrose is appointed director.

January 28, 1982: President Ronald Reagan creates a cabinet-level task force, the Vice-President's Task Force on South Florida. Headed by George Bush, it combines agents from DEA, Customs, ATF, IRS, Army, and Navy to mobilize against drug traffickers.

January 27, 1995: The international hashish seizure record is set -- 290,400 pounds -- in Khyber Agency, Pakistan.

January 30, 1997: New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Jerome Kassirer opines in favor of doctors being allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes, calling the threat of government sanctions "misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane."

January 29, 1998: Judge Nancy Gertner, a district judge in Boston, criticizes the drug war for spending too much federal funds while depriving Americans of liberty at a forum organized by the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers.

January 26, 2000: Rockefeller drug law prisoner Elaine Bartlett, subject of the book "Life on the Outside: the Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett," is set free after sixteen years in Bedford Hill prison for a first time, low-level, cocaine selling offense.

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