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Remember Rachel Hoffman

From Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

On May 7th, 2008, an SSDP member lost her life in the crossfire of the War on Drugs.

Rachel Morningstar 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 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 some dealers she'd never met. 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 (shot with the very gun she was told to buy), 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. Days after her death, 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 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. The family is also planning a benefit concert in Rachel's honor.

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