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December 2003
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ACLU Challenges DEA’s Use Of RAVE Act To Target NORML Events

Portland, OR: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon
recently filed a complaint with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
over the agency’s effort to shut down the second annual Oregon Medical
Cannabis Awards Banquet, sponsored by Oregon NORML. Though the Banquet went
on as scheduled at the Doubletree Hotel, DEA officials approached the
venue’s management prior to the event and warned them that they could be
federally fined and prosecuted under the “RAVE Act” if it took place.

Under the provisions of the “RAVE Act,” formally known as the Illicit
Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003, federal law enforcement may prosecute
business owners if they make their property available for “the purpose of
manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance.”

ACLU of Oregon spokesperson David Fidanque said that the DEA is misusing
the Act to try to silence opponents of the government’s drug policies. “The
only two instances the DEA has used this law have been against NORML, where
NORML was publicizing medical marijuana laws and their opposition to federal
law and federal policies,” he said. “We think it’s clear that the DEA did
this for political reasons because of their political opposition to NORML’s
politics.”

Findanque also noted that uniformed Portland police officers were posted
outside the banquet room doors, and that their presence may have violated
Oregon laws and city policies prohibiting police from spying on the
political activities of individuals and organizations.

This was a bad law that never should have been passed (Senator Joe Biden for all of you in Delaware), and despite the DEA’s assurance that it would not be mis-used, is bound to be used to harrass drug policy reformers. And Karen Tandy, the head of the DEA, has made it clear that she won’t specify the criteria the DEA uses.

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