Friday, May 23, 2008

Caught in the Drug War crossfire: the tragedy of Rachel Hoffman

Rachel Hoffman had just graduated from Florida State University, with plans to attend culinary school. As an undergrad, she was popular among her group of friends, many of whom she met through her involvement in FSU’s chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Like many college students, she shared cannabis/marijuana with her friends, and would often “go in” on larger amounts in order to save money. And that’s how she got busted.

Rachel was threatened with prison time, then promised a slap on the wrist if she agreed to wear a wire and set up a deal with her suppliers. Tallahassee police gave her $13,000 in cash and told her to purchase 1,500 ecstasy pills, 2 ounces of cocaine, and a handgun. They never informed her attorney, family, or the state prosecutor before they sent Rachel into the lions’ den that day. And nobody had the chance to tell her she was in way over her head.

After police found Rachel’s body, they held a press conference to blame her for her own death. Among Rachel’s family and friends, sadness quickly turned into outrage and action. Last Wednesday, hundreds of students marched in protest of the role the Tallahassee Police Department played in Rachel’s death. They held signs that read “Who Killed Rachel?” and “No More Drug War” while wearing t-shirts they had gotten from SSDP and other allied organizations at our last international conference.

In her memory, Rachel's mother has established the Rachel Morningstar Foundation, the goal of which is to pass a law requiring legal advice to be sought before a civilian can consent to undercover work. Beyond that, it will also work to decriminalize marijuana in Florida.

More information:

Comprehensive news coverage and analysis can be found on

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (US)

1 comment:

Daz said...

The police escalated the whole thing, Rachel starts off as a peaceful mj smoker, and thanks to the unconstitutional criminal status of cannabis property rights - ends up being sent to a what was always likely to be her death. There can be no doubt that this was within the Narcs' contemplation when they considered this possible scenario. These plea-bargain entrapment schemes are in my view, entirely unfair all of the would-be accused drug-law violators as part of any legal process, and also violate her right to life as her consent was obtained entirely under duress.