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June 2006
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The Vigil for Lost Promise

Tonight is the night for the DEA’s Vigil for Lost Promise, remembering those who died from drugs. And if this was a parents’ event and not a DEA event, it might be a good remembrance, but the DEA’s involvement makes it a cynical exploitation of young people’s deaths to promote their destructive (and lucrative) drug war.
I have my own Vigil for Lost Promise and I ask you to take a moment to remember those who have died from the drug war itself and read their stories as well.
The Marijuana Policy Project has also responded with the charge that the DEA vigil ignores other DEA victims:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Vigil for Lost Promises,” scheduled for this evening at 6:30 pm. at the DEA’s headquarters, commemorates victims of drug abuse but ignores the seriously ill patients who have suffered and died at the hands of the DEA, one such victim charged today.
“At dawn on September 5, 2002, I awoke to five federal agents pointing assault rifles at my head,” said Suzanne Pfeil, who suffers from paralysis and pain caused by post-polio syndrome. Pfeil is a member of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) in Santa Cruz, California. “They yelled at me to put my hands in the air and to stand up ‘NOW,’ while I tried to explain to them that I couldn’t,” Pfeil said. Eventually, the agents handcuffed Pfeil, confiscated her physician-recommended medicine, ransacked WAMM’s premises, arrested founders Mike and Valerie Corral (herself an epileptic) and confiscated the medical marijuana used by approximately 250 patients, most suffering from cancer, AIDS or other life-threatening conditions. “Thirty-three of our members have died since the raid, and there is no doubt that some of those deaths were hastened by the stress, terror, and deprivation of their medicine by the DEA,” Pfeil added.
Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said, “If the DEA wants to honor victims, it should recognize the cancer patients and paraplegics who’ve had assault rifles pointed in their faces and been slapped in handcuffs by the DEA, for the simple act of taking their medicine.” Later this month, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would stop such DEA raids in states with medical marijuana laws.
Houston also expressed concern about misleading material put out by the DEA and some members of Congress, falsely implying that medical marijuana contributed to the death of 14-year old Irma Perez, who died of an MDMA (ecstasy) overdose in April 2004. Detailed information about victims of the DEA’s attacks on medical marijuana patients can be found at http://www.mpp.org/pdf/HorrorStories_Brief.pdf. Background on Suzanne Pfeil, the WAMM raid, and Irma Perez is at http://www.mpp.org/pdf/LostPromises_Brief.pdf.

It’s good to see that someone else has noted how Irma Perez’s death has been exploited by the drug warriors.
The most bizarre statement involved with this vigil comes from DEA head Karen Tandy:

“This vigil gives hope for an America without drugs.”

Really? An America without drugs? No aspirin? How about cancer or AIDS drugs? Nicotine? Caffeine? Antacids?
Even if she really means that this vigil gives hope for an America that is devoid of those specific drugs that are currently illegal, where could she even get the idea that’s possible? Is she that stupid? (Or think we are?)
Ah… maybe she means there’s hope for an America without illegal drugs. And with legalization, that could happen. But somehow I doubt that’s what she had in mind.

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