Another Ugly Moment For US’ War Against Marijuana Consumers

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 31, 2013

    In what can only be described as a horrible tragedy for college student Daniel Chong–as well as for the American taxpayer–the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay $4.1 million dollars to Mr. Chong for falsely imprisoning him after an April 20, 2012 party, and worse, literally forgetting about him in a holding cell for five days where Mr. Chong drank his own urine to survive, and cut himself to leave a dying message to his mother.

    To date no DEA field agents or local managers have been held responsible for this gross error (ironically, only the taxpayer is left being the responsible party in this legal nightmare).

    This kind of abuseful and money-wasting government nitwittery is another prime example of why cannabis prohibition must end in America post haste.

    San Diego Union Tribune article about the settlement, and previous news coverage, is below:

    DEA settles left-in-cell case for $4M

    By Jeff McDonald1:08 a.m.July 30, 2013

    Daniel Chong, the self-confessed pot smoker who was caught up in a drug sweep last year and nearly died after federal agents inadvertently abandoned him in a holding cell for five days without food or water, is now a millionaire.

    Attorney Eugene Iredale announced Tuesday he reached a $4.1 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, without even filing a lawsuit.

    The harrowing experience for Chong, 25, an engineering student, began on a Friday night in 2012, when he admittedly went to some friends’ house in University City to celebrate April 20, a special date for marijuana users.

    Chong didn’t know it at the time, but the home had been under surveillance by a federal narcotics task force.

    Drug agents executed a search warrant early in the morning of April 21, Among other things, they found 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana and several weapons in the residence, according to court papers.

    The agents also found Chong sleeping on a couch in the front room and transported him and six others to the San Diego field office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for follow-up interviews.

    Chong said he answered all of the agents’ questions and they agreed to send him home without criminal charges.

    But instead he was returned to a temporary holding cell, where he spent the next four days without food or water. He has said he became delirious, drank his own urine, ate the broken shards of his glasses and used the glass to cut the message “sorry mom” in his own forearm.

    He said he kicked the door and screamed for help but agents never came to his assistance. DEA agents admitted later they “accidentally” left Chong in the cell and took the unusual step of apologizing publicly to the UCSD student.

    DEA officials declined to comment about the case Monday.

    Findings of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Justice have not been released.

    51 responses to “Another Ugly Moment For US’ War Against Marijuana Consumers”

    1. cannahuana says:

      WOW, surely someone should have at least lost their job

    2. Galileo Galilei says:

      No doubt the DEA will spin this tragedy into a story about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

    3. Miles says:

      It really bothers me that Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator for California, wants to honor the DEA for 40 years of service. I think that after 40 years of failure she should be calling for it’s demise!!!

      Send her an email and let her know what you think. You can use this shortcut:


    4. Buggsy13420666 says:

      Just another DEA (DEAD END ATROCITIES) blunder of the 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS. The FEDERALISTS complain about HUMAN RIGHTS in other countries. This is BIG BROTHER and the POLICE STATE at their FINEST and want to control us with their ORWELLIAN MENTALITY. ONLY IN AMERIKA!

    5. Realist says:

      Look forward to your treatment, potheads, no matter what the law says, they can still arrest you, hold you indefinitely, beat you, refuse you food and water, and then let you go without charging you for a crime. Just like they do to hippie protesters, gays in the south, and black folks minding their own business in the white part of town.

    6. Voice of the Resistance says:

      I heard a similar story from a lady friend in Boise a couple of years ago, of being locked up then forgotten about.

    7. rah lam says:

      Heads need to roll..but wont

    8. Julian says:

      What a perfect storm for anti-drug prohibition policy; The Danny Chong settlement hits the front page at the same time Uruguay sends marijuana legalization to it’s Senate, on its way to becoming the first Country to legalize cannabis outright. Sending us smoke signals South America?
      One thing that the Associated Press has missing from this story is that the DEA planted meth in Danny’s cell. That’s right, no food, no water, no toilet, but they made damn sure the young man had meth on him just in case an autopsy reported dehydration or they needed to trump charges to avoid prosecution– for torturing the guy on the couch whose only crime was he smoked a joint! The Controlled Substance Act breeds so many corrupt cops that planting meth is standard operating procedure.
      Here’s the link:
      Towards the end of the paragraph, it states;
      “…while incarcerated, he had to drink his own urine for hydration, and ingested some methamphetamine that he found under a blanket inside the cell in order to keep himself awake.”
      Once again, as I’ve said in previous posts, 4.1 million is just hush money. A drop in the bucket compared to asset forfeitures– IF the DEA isn’t punishing taxpayers by using OUR money to pay the legal fees! How can Congress tell? There’s no oversight when you get a blank check from Congress, get to write your own drug laws, and get flimsy warrants signed to go and gustapo someone’s house anywhere on the planet whenever you want more money.
      With settlements like these, the DEA shows fear that if people like Chong don’t accept a settlement and don’t rescind their right to a jury, Chong could have sued the DEA based on being unconstitutionally organized under the Controlled Substance Act by allowing an executive agency legislate U.S. drug policy. One more Danny Chong with a “DannyChongFund.com” to foot the legal bills and a pro marijuana Supreme Court could overturn the C.S.Act. A “dot com” donation station may not make him 4.1 million in 1 year, but it would cover his school, medical and legal fees… And stop this from ever happening again, which is what Danny said he wanted to do on an interview with NPR when he considered suing in the first place. His lawyers talked him into the settlement. With %20 comission, that’s no big surprise.
      Ah, well, maybe he can donate to Norml.org?
      Seriously,is the DEA getting stupider every year or is the world just waking up? Both and more, usually… I was digging into the files, and it appears on the same day the DEA pulls its annual “crackdown” cannabis roundup on 4-20, they make some really, REALLY troubling mistakes. I mean 4-20 must really piss off the DEA; the same day Chong was immorally imprisoned and tortured, a couple from Kansas had their home raided by DEA agents on a flimsy warrant for buying hydroponics at the local farmers market to grow indoor tomatoes.
      Yup, here’s the link:
      Addlyn and Robert Harte were waking up 7:30 am to the terror of their young children when “it looked like zero dark thirty” through their front door when DEA came storming in. The DEA had been surveilling their house (at tax payer’s expense) after the Hartes bought hydroponic equipment from the store. To the disappointment and surprise of the DEA, all they found in the basement were indoor tomatoes. They also discovered the Hartes were retired CIA agents. Woops! The DEA handed the Hartes a receipt stating “no property taken.” The Hartes sued the County Attorney’s office.
      And if this story can leave us with a moment of zen any greater than a receipt to wipe one’s @$$ after having the $#!+ scared out of you in front of your wife and kids, let’s leave the last words from the very noble-hearted Mrs. Harte;
      “If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does somebody who maybe hasn’t led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?” Adlynn Harte said.
      Well said, Mrs. Harte. Well said.

    9. Owen says:

      Justice served, well, somewhat. It’s too bad he didn’t get the 20 million he was seeking. Anything to break the DEA’s bank. No money, no more terrorizing pot smokers.

    10. vicka52 says:

      its sad that our politicians are so blind and greedy. our country: people wake up! remember a while back when Obama’s speach was telivised where all the audiance was shown, a sea of white and grey hair! this is who controls this country. is this a government of the people for the people, and by the people? same tricky dickey that screwed us up in vietnam, iraq, afganistan, and wherever else “we” americans can go to offset old amno screw up another poor country.let the dea go guard our border. let people go back to where we were free. legalize regulate and support treatment for those who wish the help.