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March 7, 1996

NORML Testifies Before Congress
Executive Director Keith Stroup Tells Subcommittee That "Far More Harm
Is Caused By Marijuana Prohibition Than By Marijuana Itself"

March 6, 1996, Washington, DC: In a step forward for the marijuana reform movement, Congress invited NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup and two other reform advocates to testify on the subject of marijuana policy.

Wednesday's congressional hearing marked the first time that Congress has made such overtures in more than six years.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Congressional Subcommittee on Crime, Stroup urged the committee to put an end to federal policies that continue to arrest hundreds of thousands of adult marijuana users every year.

"Marijuana smokers in this country are no different from their non-smoking peers, except for their marijuana use. Like most Americans, they are responsible citizens who work hard, raise families, contribute to their communities, and want a safe, crime-free neighborhood in which to live," he stated. "It's time we ended marijuana prohibition and stopped arresting and jailing hundreds of thousands of average Americans whose only 'crime' is that they smoke marijuana. This is a tragic and senseless war against our own citizens; it must be ended."

Stroup also spoke in favor of amending federal law to allow patients access to medical marijuana with a doctor's prescription and urged the members of the crime subcommittee to promptly approve HR 2618 -- a federal bill currently before the subcommittee that would permit the medical use of cannabis. "Whatever you may feel about the war on drugs," Stroup summarized, "denying medical marijuana to seriously ill people should not be a part of it."

Also appearing before the subcommittee to attest to marijuana's medical utility was Richard Brookhiser, Senior Editor for the National Review. In impassioned testimony, Brookhiser told of his own use of marijuana, with the full knowledge of his physicians, as a way to alleviate the violent nausea he suffered as the result of cancer chemotherapy treatments. "Because of ... marijuana, my last two courses of chemotherapy were almost nausea-free," Brookhiser recounted. "There was only one problem -- I had to become a criminal to do this."

Representing the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) was Attorney Jeralyn E. Merritt of Denver, Colorado. Merritt testified in favor of changes recently enacted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and approved by Congress adopting a universal plant/weight ratio of 100 grams be used in marijuana sentencing. Merritt argued that efforts by some members of Congress to re-enact a 1000 gram per plant ratio for marijuana plants were not justified. "For Congress to step in now," she testified, "in the absence of new and compelling evidence that the [current law] is scientifically unsound or otherwise irrational, flies in the face of the authority granted to the [U.S.] Sentencing Commission."

Appearing before the committee on an opposing panel were Stephanie Haynes, President of Drug Watch International, Dr. Eric A. Voth of the International Drug Strategy Institute, D.A.R.E. officer Donald Hayes of the Alexandria Virginia Police Department, and Tom Hedrick, Vice Chairman of the Partnership for a Drug Free America. All four speakers testified in favor of continuing to maintain strict penalties for the use of marijuana and encouraged Congress to strengthen their anti-drug efforts. In addition, both Ms. Haynes and Dr. Voth voiced their disapproval over the efficacy of medical marijuana and the introduction of HR 2618. Ignoring the fact that thousands of seriously ill patients risk arrest daily to acquire marijuana as a therapeutic agent for a variety of serious illnesses including glaucoma, cancer, and the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS, Voth testified that only "the pro-marijuana forces [continue to] drive the medical marijuana issue."

Although NORML was encouraged by the opportunity to testify before the congressional subcommittee, the organization expressed concern that Subcommittee Chairman, Bill McCollum -- a former two-time co-sponsor of medical marijuana legislation himself -- refused to hear testimony from Harvard Medical School Professor and international authority on medical marijuana, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, M.D.. "Because of the importance [NORML] place[s] on the need for medical marijuana, we had asked if we might have ... [Dr.] Lester Grinspoon ... present our testimony here today, but [we] were told by the committee that would not be possible," Stroup explained.

"[However,] Dr. Grinspoon remains available should this committee elect to hear from him at some point."

"The fact that the subcommittee allowed a medical doctor testify to the purported dangers of marijuana, but denied NORML the opportunity to present expert medical testimony on the therapeutic effectiveness of cannabis is truly unfortunate," said NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Since the Subcommittee on Crime may be voting on proposed medical marijuana legislation in the near future, one can only hope that they will hold additional hearings at which time expert medical testimony on both sides of the issue will be accepted."

[For more information of the March 6 hearings before Congress, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

A Transcript of NORML's testimony is currently available on the Internet @:

New Drug Czar Sworn In; Clinton Proposes Massive Expansion Of White House Anti-Drug Efforts

March 6, 1996, Washington, DC: In a move that signifies a 180 degree departure from the President's previous decisions to downsize the Office of National Drug Control Policy, President Clinton recently asked Congress for $3.4 million in supplemental spending to expand the staff of the ONDCP from 25 to 150 individuals. This money would be in addition to the extra $250 million dollars already appropriated by the White House to beef up anti-drug efforts.

"The general wants some troops to command," explained one White House official to the Washington Post on Clinton's sudden move to increase the ONDCP staff, "and Clinton wanted the general." Newly appointed drug czar, retired General Barry R. McCaffrey was sworn in to office yesterday.

In addition to his title as drug czar, McCaffrey was granted a slot on the National Security Council. The former general was also given approval from the White House to carry over 30 former Pentagon staffers to his new operation.

"According to the most recent FBI statistics, the federal government's war on drugs is primarily a war against marijuana users," explained NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Clinton's latest effort to drastically increase the 'war' effort is yet another step in the wrong direction and a wasteful expenditure of valuable taxpayers dollars." [For copies of retired General McCaffrey's resume and related articles, contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.]




Regional and other news

Body Count

The "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area, shows that, of six felons sentenced to jail or prison this week by Multnomah County courts, only two were controlled-substance offenders. (March 7, 1996, p. 8, 3M-MP-SE). For 1996, that makes 58 of 98 felons sentenced to terms by county courts, or 59.18 percent.

Multnomah County Jail Bonds And Levy

As detailed in the Friday, March 8 Oregonian ("In Public Life," p. C4), "The three-year jail levy [facing voters May 21] replaces an expiring levy, but with a hefty 50 percent increase. It would raise $24.4 million the first year, $31.6 million the second year, and $33.8 million the third year," for a total of $89.8 million. Unlike the jail bonds, which would be amortized over 20 years, the levy is a pay-as-you-go arrangement with no bonds involved. As such, the annual cost of the levy would ratchet up to 78 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $117 on a $150,000 house; compared to the annual cost of the jail bond payments, which would be 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $48 per year on a $150,000 house. At the rate of $75 per day (x 365 = $27,375) and 1,851 jail beds (assuming the $79.6 million in jail bonds to buy 480 new beds are okayed by voters), Multnomah County's inmate expenses would run $50,671,125 per year, well above the revenue anticipated from the levy. So the question would seem to remain, whose ox will be gored to make up the $16 million to $25 million per year difference?

The Oregonian for one framed the issue as one sought by commissioners "so jail inmates aren't released early because of crowding." But in the 1995 "Annual Jail Data" published Jan. 24, 1996 by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department Planning and Research Unit, on page matrix95.ch3, there is a graph titled "Population Releases 1995" which shows that releases have declined drastically, from a peak of 536 per month in April 1995 pretty much in a straight trajectory down to 15 inmates in December 1995, and presumably down to none by now. Of course, any dangerous inmates who are being released early go free because 60 percent of our criminal-justice resources seem to be going to incarcerate nonviolent drug offenders, while the system makes no pretense of jailing car thieves, burglars, drunken drivers and others who cause real harm to others. The police have been turned from crime fighters into armed morality cops, and the voters will gain little in terms of public safety if they pass new jail bonds and levies.

FIJA Banished

Portland NORML assistant director Floyd Ferris Landrath was excluded from the Multnomah County Courthouse on Monday, March 4, in connection with his Fully Informed Jury Association activities. A Multnomah County sheriff's officer took Landrath into custody and issued a six-month "Notice of Exclusion," effective immediately. The notice stated, among other things, "It is the decision of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office to exclude you from entering upon the premises of Multnomah Co. Courthouse." This is followed by a list of various acts Landrath is alleged to have committed, including "Interfering with court business through intimidation, extortion, coercion or other conduct." Landrath, who is also director of the American Anti-Prohibitionist League, says, "In reality and as several eyewitnesses will attest, I was quietly standing in an open hallway, outside the jury room, offering 'Jury Power' pamphlets to new jurors as they arrived for jury duty." Landrath has done so every other Monday for more than five years as part of his drug-policy reform activities. More information about the Fully Informed Jury Association is available at its Web page: FIJA makes a compelling case that jurors have a historical and Constitutional right and duty to judge the law as well as the facts of a case. For details, contact Landrath's attorney, Paul Loney, at (503) 234-2694.

"Hempfest At The Opera"

A variety show celebrating hemp takes place 1-8 pm Saturday, March 30, at the Paris Theatre, 6 SW Third Ave., Portland. (503-222-0566) The Hempfest is promoted by Blu Whale Productions. On the program are a hemp fashion show, music, laser light show and speakers. Proceeds will support an educational video Blu Whale is co-producing with activists in Holland. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act petition drive. Doors open at noon. No cigarettes or alcohol. Tickets are $5.00, available at the Third Eye on SE Hawthorne, Roots/Revolution on SE 34th & Belmont or at the door. For more details call (503) 233-5986.

Doctor's Orders

Dr. Dean Edell wants to end drug prohibition. The syndicated medical-oriented talk-show host (who can be heard 3-4 pm Mondays through Fridays in Portland on KXL 750 AM) was interviewed Feb. 28 on the evening Six O'clock News on Channel 7, KGO TV, San Francisco, and reported on a study that documented the percentage of children exposed to second hand crack smoke. He pointed out that crack is assumed to be a "minority" drug but that the findings of this particular study showed that, while 3 percent of black, inner-city children had been exposed to crack smoke, an identical 3 percent of white, suburban children had also been exposed to crack smoke.

Cannabis Patient Registry

The Drug Policy Foundation has awarded a grant allowing the establishment of the Cannabis Patient Registry. The CPR's goal is not to replace cannabis buyers' clubs or such groups as the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics but to document the prevalence and range of conditions of patients who use marijuana medicinally. Documenting such people is the primary way CPR hopes eventually to help patients.The CPR staff is sensitive to the need to protect the privacy of patients; no personal information will be given out without explicit permission. DPF funded CPR to operate under the auspices of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (which, if this is the first time you've heard the name, is a very respectable organization with a long and credible record of quality research). MAPS' Web site is at For more details or a copy of the CPR Patient Questionnaire, contact CPR at 1801 Tippah Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205. Telephone (704) 358-0518, fax (704) 358-1650. E-mail:

Big Toys For Big Boys

Statesman Journal(Salem), March 1, 1996
"Local" section, page 1
"Vehicles Built For All Terrain In Drug Raids"
by Janet Davies

Oregon police agencies Thursday got nearly 50 tons of armor to use in their war against drugs.

The Oregon National Guard rolled out two light armored vehicles, or LAVs, to provide protection for officers on drug raids where they might encounter armed resistance.

"This is very serious business, very dangerous for law enforcement officials," said Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Oregon's adjutant general, during an unveiling ceremony at McNary Field to demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities. The all-weather, all-terrain vehicles, valued at $630,000 each, are designed to withstand attacks from almost any munitions short of missiles or rockets. ...

They can roll through rugged, rural areas to get to marijuana fields or up to the front door of a drug house or methamphetamine laboratory. ... With the hatches closed, they have such home comforts as heating and air conditioning.

The LAVs, manufactured by General Motors, operate on eight tires rather than tracks, they are street legal, Rees said. Based in Salem they can hum along at up to 62 mph on the freeway. They feature night driving vision devices and a land navigation system of a Global Position System receiver and self-calibration Digital Compass System. ...

"It's a real nice partnership for us with the Guard," [State Police Lt. Bernie] Giusto said.

The vehicles aren't the first under the guard's national counter-drug program. The Oregon Guard has provided helicopters and pilots to such agencies as the Polk Count Sheriff's Office.

Deputies take advantage of infrared cameras to help detect objects in heavily forested areas during their annual marijuana eradication expeditions.

(End of excerpts. Complete ascii version available.)

This seems like an example of how the war on some drugs serves to abrogate such legal niceties as the traditional separation between civilian law enforcement and the military.

We did the numbers in last week's press release. The police can arrest all the pot growers or meth cooks any time they want without all the big guns. The truth is that the police ignore drug violations every day and there aren't enough jail or prison beds any way you cut it. We could fill every spare cell we have with pot growers or meth cooks and there would still be plenty of pot growers and meth cooks. Even the free market does a better job of weeding out incompetent entrepreneurs than the police do - the odds of bringing in a marijuana crop or cooking up a batch of meth successfully are much better than the odds of opening any other type of small business and making it survive.

What's Going On Here?

The historians among us know why the capital of Oregon is in Salem, not Portland, the state's largest city. The reason has to do with why Albany, New York, and not Manhattan is that state's capital, and why Olympia and not Seattle is the capital of Washington, and why, indeed, the non-existent Washington, D.C., was chosen as the United States' new capital instead of some already established city. The reason is Americans' traditional rustic low regard for urban corruption, crime and loose morals, which have given cities their bad reputation among moralistic bumpkins ever since the time of Babylon. (Perhaps the non-moralistic bumpkins have thus always tended to move to Babylon, where there are, after all, lots of easy marks and anonymity. It's a self-perpetuating stereotype that has always reinforced the phenomenon of greater urban crime and violence.)

For what must be the first time in recorded history, however, if the Portland police and The Oregonian are credible, crime and violence in the city of Portland have been falling while the crime rate has risen more than 10 percent annually throughout the rest of the state.

In a Feb. 25 article in The Oregonian titled "1 in 3 violent crimes gets resolved" (p. D4), Portland police figures are quoted stating that in 1994 (the most recent year for which figures are available), there were 8,833 "reported" murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. According to the last two paragraphs in the article, "In the past few years, violent crime has been dropping in Portland as it has in other cities throughout the country. In 1995, the rate stayed even compared with 1994. 'Our violent crime is down and has gone down over the past few years,' [Lt. C.W.] Jensen said. 'What we really want is less crime.' " But no other numbers are cited to support these assertions.

The lower incidence of crime in Portland has supposedly been occurring while crime in the rest of the state has been rapidly increasing. The Oregonian's own "In Oregon" sidebar to its article "National crime rate drops for third straight year" (The Sunday Oregonian, Nov. 19, 1995, p. A15), states that "Oregon's overall crime rate increased 9.7 percent in 1994 compared with 1993, according to statistics collected by the state Law Enforcement Data System. The crime rate increased another 9.2 percent in the first three months of 1995 compared with the same period last year." The sidebar also states clearly that homicides in Oregon in 1994 actually rose from 141 to 148 and crimes against people increased 2.9 percent.

Another article in The Oregonian titled "Murder takes a holiday? Urban crime down, rural up" (Dec. 18, 1995, p. A9) makes note of the trend but also states explicitly that nationally, "Property crime remained unchanged." In fact, the sidebar to this article, "In Oregon," notes that "Oregon's major cities didn't follow the national trend in murder statistics for the first half of 1995. Portland recorded 18 murders in the first half of this year, the same number reported for the first half of 1994." This would seem to contradict Lt. C.W. Jensen's assertion above that "Our violent crime rate is down and has gone down over the past few years." The article makes no reference to other categories of crime rates in Oregon.

Does anyone really believe crime is falling in Portland while rising elsewhere in the state? How could crime drop in Portland, which has about one-fifth of the state's population of 3 million, but increase 9.7 percent in the state overall? If the Portland police violent crime-clearance rate is among the lowest in the nation, and about 60 percent of our criminal-justice resources are spent on nonviolent drug offenders anyway, one wonders how many Portlanders are even bothering to call in robberies anymore. There have been many stories in the news about how car thieves, drunken drivers and burglars in Portland do not face much chance of going to jail. Is this the case in other smaller Oregon cities? It seems dubious.

Why is this issue relevant to Portland NORML? Well, if real crime in Portland is decreasing, then obviously Multnomah County residents don't need more jails. But if real crime is increasing, then Lt. C.W. Jensen and The Oregonian and the Portland Police Bureau are popularizing faulty statistics and reaching conclusions not based on credible evidence, or any evidence at all. NORML has often asked for better record-keeping and statistical methodology at the local and state level, and the situation in Portland is an excellent example why. If the Portland police are spending a disproportionate amount of time busting harmless pot smokers and other nonviolent controlled-substance offenders, obviously there are fewer resources targeting criminals who cause real harm to others. Always in the past, increased drug enforcement has led to an increase in other crime and a decrease in clearance rates as police have squandered their resources on an impossible task. Any claim that real crime has decreased while arrests and prosecutions of drug offenders have increased invites an inference that imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders is an effective way to reduce real crime. The public policy implications require more serious attention on the part of the media and public officials to the accuracy of the numbers they're quoting. Any comment from the Portland police would be welcome here, too. NORML is always interested in an honest and dispassionate examination of the facts.

Mexican Interdiction And Price Trends

Insufficient e-mail responses almost stymied this week's inquiry into whether Mexican pot prices are rising or falling in the wake of U.S. Customs' reported 25 percent increase in border interdictions last year. So we'll turn to the recognized authority - High Times magazine's "Trans-High Market Quotations" for now and a year ago.

The current, April 1996 THMQ has no listing for Oregon but notes the price of Mexican pot in Los Angeles as $20 for a quarter ounce and $80 an ounce. (In contrast, the locally grown sinsemilla goes for $65 per quarter-ounce, more than three times that.) Mexican marijuana also costs about $100 an ounce currently in Kansas, Mississippi and Manhattan, according to THMQ. An April 1996 listing for Seattle shows no price for Mexican marijuana but cites the cost of the local sinsemilla in Seattle as $340 an ounce. (p. 84) The most recent THMQ price for Mexican pot in Seattle was $100, in the February 1996 High Times (p. 80). Almost a year earlier, the April 1995 High Times THMQ had one listing for Oregon, from a correspondent in Keizer who quoted the going price of Mexican as $90 per half-ounce. That would be almost twice the recent price in Seattle, except the same 1995 issue cites the price of Mexican marijuana in California's Salinas Valley as $80 per ounce, which would mean no change from the price in Los Angeles in April 1996. However, the Keizer and Salinas Valley quotes are the only ones in this period that refer to Mexican imports at all, suggesting there may be a lot more Mexican pot around in 1996 than there was in 1995. (p. 84) The next month's issue, May 1995, confirms the higher prices and lower prevalence. It quotes the price of Mexican marijuana then as $25 for an eighth of an ounce in Hollywood, California, more than twice the price of $20 per quarter-ounce in Los Angeles in the current, April 1996 issue. A few other price quotes for Mexican in the May 1995 issue range from $200-$300 per ounce in Manhattan to $20 per eighth-ounce in Eugene (p. 84). Conclusion: prices are down significantly, so increased interdiction (and arrests) have had no effect except maybe to slow the market's collapse. Another conclusion: Not many marijuana consumers know or care about Mexican pot. (Domestic sinsemilla is about three to four times as expensive and much more prevalent.)

The Evidence Mounts

According to a Gannett News Service item in the Feb. 26 Des Moines Register, a new report by a private think tank called Drug Strategies has labeled the government's war on illegal drugs "still a failure." The study says the focus needs to shift to reducing demand via education, prevention and treatment efforts. According to the news article, "Report: Government's war on illegal drugs still a failure," "Drug use among teens is rising, with one in five high school seniors smoking marijuana daily. And arrests for drug possession reached 1 million in 1994, a 30 percent increase over the previous three years, according to the report by Drug Strategies, unveiled Sunday."

Who You Gonna Call?

According to the November/December 1995 edition of the Journal of Drug Issues, a recent study shows that the advice about drug use supplied by drug-policy reform groups such as NORML is more effective at "reduc[ing] a broad range of risks" than is the advice often given out in government-sponsored anti-drug campaigns.

The Zychik Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1996

(Based on a Los Angeles Times story. Zychik's writing is condensed here.)
Let us now examine the U.S. Justice Department's special accommodation for crack dealers, which clearly shows racism. There are over 1 million drug arrests in the U.S. every year. The Justice Department prosecutes fewer than 2 percent. Considering its limited manpower and its awesome power, a wise use of federal resources would be to target the bigger dealers. Yet in 1992 - the last year for which figures are available - 60 percent of federal crack prosecutions were for street level sales. Why is the federal government getting involved in prosecuting street level sales of drugs? Hint: 88 percent of prosecuted crack dealers are black. Only 13 percent of federal prosecutions of marijuana and meth are for street sales, but 68 percent of pot and meth defendants are white, and they are usually part of a larger drug bust. Here's the value of various drugs a trafficker has to sell to get 97 months in prison under federal prosecution: Crack: $3,100. Cocaine: $37,000. Meth: $52,000. Heroin: $90,000. Pot: $415,000.

This Week's Debunking

The new, April 1996 High Times includes an excellent brief summary in the "Ask Ed" column (p. 82) of the evidence contradicting the DNA-damage myth:
Genetic Damage

[Q.] In the March 1995 Ask Ed you said that marijuana use did not produce genetic damage. The rest of the sources I've checked out said it does produce damage. What is your source of information? M.V., Lacey, Washington

[A.] The real question is, what is the source of their information? There were several research papers that claimed marijuana caused genetic damage which were later found to be flawed, and because of their flaws were never accapted by the scientific community. After they appeared, further research was done that disproved the previous results. The "information" you were given must be based on the flawed work. This material is not truthful and is knowingly deceptive.

The National Academy of Sciences summed up marijuana and health research in its report, "Marijuana and Health," published in 1982. On pages 101-2 it stated, "Extensive testing with delta-9 THC using three established tests for mutagenesis failed to detect any mutagenic effect, or any effect as an inhibitor of DNA repair (Legator et al., 1976; Glat et al., 1979; Zimmerman et al., 1978). Then the paper recounts research that confirms these results.

The section continues, "Does marijuana cause chromosome breaks? The weight of the evidence from in vitro cultures of human cells and from in vivo animal and human studies is that neither marijuana nor delta-9-THC causes chromosome breaks."

Finally it states, "Studies that have reported chromosome breaks or gaps in cell cultures of users of marijuana have largely been carried out on multiple-drug users, and the breaks and gaps may be due to other factors associated with a life of heavy drug use (Gilmour et al., 1971; Herha and Obe, 1974).

These findings have held for the last 20 years. There is no new research to contradict these results. Perhaps now you can confront the purveyors of these lies. The government has spent millions of dollars funding researchers who are trying to show toxic effects of marijuana. They have not been successful. With all this research, they would have found something if it was there.

(End of "Ask Ed" excerpt. Subscription information, back issues and more are available at the High Times Web site,

Ugly Americans

(2/29/96) MEXICO CITY (Reuter) - The United States is a far more drug-riddled society than Mexico, Health Minister Juan Ramon de la Fuente said in a broadside just days before the Clinton administration decides whether to "certify"' Mexico's anti-narcotics efforts.

"It is fitting to mention a few figures to help us put the problem in complete perspective,'' de la Fuente said in a speech to graduating doctors.

"For example, for every Mexican who at some time in their life has used illegal drugs, there are at least nine North Americans who have done so."

He added that last year, almost 24 million Americans used illegal drugs compared to just 320,000 Mexicans and that 118 in every thousand Americans used illegal drugs compared to seven in every thousand Mexicans.

De la Fuente said he was quoting from research by U.S. and Mexican health experts.

Ten times more Americans than Mexicans had used marijuana at some time in their lives, 22 times more Americans than Mexicans had used cocaine and 29 times more Americans than Mexicans had used hallucinogenic substances, he said.

"Another significant that one in every five Mexican students who consumed cocaine or heroin obtained the drug for the first time in the United States,'' he said.

[End of excerpt. Full ascii copy available.]

As others have pointed out previously, far more Colombians have been killed by U.S. cigarettes than there are U.S. citizens who have been killed by Colombian cocaine.



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