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Weed Watch

By Jordan Smith, December 12, 2003, News

Those wacky feds are at it again. According to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, two days before the Nov. 15 Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards banquet, sponsored by the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, an Oregon Drug Enforcement Administration agent penned a letter to the manager of a Portland Doubletree Hotel -- where the event was to take place -- waving around the language of the RAVE Act in an attempt to scare the hotel into canceling the NORML event. The "Reducing Americans Vulnerability to Ecstasy" Act, authored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, and signed into law this spring, amends the so-called "crack house statute" (also by Biden), making it possible for the government to prosecute any person who makes available any property for any purpose, if drugs -- even those held by a third party -- are found on the premises during the event. Earlier this year -- in the act's first real application -- a Montana DEA agent used the RAVE Act to scare venue operators into canceling a June 10 fundraising event sponsored by Montana NORML.

And although Biden has said he hadn't intended for the RAVE legislation to be used to violate the First Amendment, it appears that's exactly how the DEA likes to use it. According to the DRCNet, on Nov. 13 Oregon DEA Agent Ken Magee wrote a letter to Doubletree hotel managers who were hosting the Oregon NORML event, asking if the hotel intended to "knowingly permit ... the illegal possession, conspiracy to possess or to aid and abet the possession of marijuana?" Not surprisingly, the Doubletree canceled the event -- at least until Oregon NORML teamed up with the ACLU and threatened first the hotel and then the DEA with a breach of contract and a First Amendment lawsuit. According to DRCNet, the hotel and NORML struck a compromise: Oregon NORML agreed to can its planned "Beautiful Bud Award" and the hotel agreed to allow the event.

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