Every wonder why pot is classified in the same federal category as heroin?
Why Congress and state legislators still think kids should be arrested for possessing
it, and their education and career futures should be destroyed? (A three-year-old
federal law permanently denies federal college financial aid to any kid with
a misdemeanor pot possession bust on his/her record.)
Now I always thought pot was illegal because Negroes, Mexicans and Chinese
were using it to lower the moral fiber of white Protestant virgins. That's what
the Hearst newspapers told us back in the 1930s, and that campaign was quickly
followed by the federal ban on "marihuana."
Well they've just released some old White House tapes of conversations
by President Richard Nixon. Now it turns out it's because of the Jews! And the
homosexuals! And the Communists!
Oh, Nixon and Jews ... I can't help but add this. I grew up in Washington DC,
a few miles from a lovely, affluent neighborhood called Spring Valley. When
Nixon was vice-president (under Eisenhower), he lived in Spring Valley. Well,
he saw this lovely house that was just perfect for his family it was
the American Dream. Is it his fault that to get his piece of the American Dream,
he had to sign a restrictive covenant with the Spring Valley Homeowners Association
swearing never to re-sell the house to blacks, Asians or Jews?
How Federal Drug Policy Is Made
This just came in from ReconsiDer, a New York State bunch of psycho
anarchist whackos (disguised in suits and ties and uncomfortable shoes) who
are trying to reform the Rockefeller mandatory-minimum drug sentencing Laws.
The federal laws which originally outlawed "marihuana" were inspired by a campaign
by the Hearst newspapers telling Americans that fiendish Mexicans were using
marihuana to loosen the moral fibre of white Protestant virgins.
Please read this nearly all the way down to find out which other Ethnic/Religious
Group were the dope-crazed fiends responsible for Nixon's ratcheting-up of the
War on Drugs and the quarter-century federal scheduling of pot in the same category
That's how drug law and policy in this country are made!
(I love the Nixon tapes. Not a year goes by without some new piece of grand
What ever happened to the "blue-ribbon commission" that investigated marijuana
at the request of Nixon? What were Nixon's feelings about marijuana? Recently
de-classified White House tapes reveal some fascinating insights on the making
of US drug policy.
Once-Secret "Nixon Tapes" Show Why the U.S. Outlawed Pot
Thirty years ago the United States came to a critical juncture in the drug
war. A Nixon-appointed presidential commission had recommended that marijuana
use not be a criminal offense under state or federal law. But Nixon himself,
based on his zealous personal preferences, overruled the commission's research
and doomed marijuana to its current illegal status.
This newly revealed information comes from declassified tapes of Oval Office
conversations from 1971 and 1972, which show Nixon's aggressive anti-drug stance
putting him directly at odds against many of his close advisors.
Congress, when it passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, temporarily
labeled marijuana a "Schedule I substance" -- a flatly illegal drug with no
approved medical purposes. But Congress acknowledged that it did not know enough
about marijuana to permanently relegate it to Schedule I, and so they created
a presidential commission to review the research and recommend a long-term strategy.
President Nixon got to appoint the bulk of the commissioners. Not surprisingly,
he loaded it with drug warriors. Nixon appointed Raymond Shafer, former Republican
Governor of Pennsylvania, as Chairman. As a former prosecutor, Shafer had a
"law and order," drug warrior reputation. Nixon also appointed nine Commissioners,
including the dean of a law school, the head of a mental health hospital, and
a retired Chicago police captain. Along with the Nixon appointees, two senators
and two congressmen from each party served on the Commission.
The Shafer Commission -- officially known as the National Commission on Marihuana
and Drug Abuse -- took its job seriously. They launched fifty research projects,
polled the public and members of the criminal justice community, and took thousands
of pages of testimony. Their work is still the most comprehensive review of
marijuana ever conducted by the federal government.
After reviewing all the evidence, these drug warriors were forced to come to
a different conclusion than they had at first expected. Rather than harshly
condemning marijuana, they started talking about legalization. When Nixon heard
such talk, he quickly denounced the Commission -- months before it issued its
As a result of Nixon's public rebuke, Shafer met with the President. The Commission
was upset, and the purpose of the meeting was to reassure them. But Nixon didn't
budge. Instead, he warned Shafer to get control of his commission and avoid
looking like a "bunch of do-gooders" who are "soft on marijuana." He warned
Shafer that the Commission would "look bad as hell" if it came out with recommendations
different from the direction of Congress and the President.
During their meeting, Shafer reassured the President that he would not support
"legalization," even though there were some on the Commission who did. He told
Nixon they were looking for a unanimous recommendation. Nixon warned Shafer
that he "had very strong feelings" on marijuana. Nixon and Shafer also discussed
Shafer's potential appointment to a federal judgeship.
But in the end, the Shafer Commission issued a report that tried to correct
the "extensive degree of misinformation," to "demythologize" and "desymbolize"
marijuana. They reported finding that marijuana did not cause crime or aggression,
lead to harder drug use or create significant biochemical, mental or physical
abnormalities. They concluded: "Marihuana's relative potential for harm to the
vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not
justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use
The most important recommendation of the Commission was the decriminalization
of possession or non-profit transfer of marijuana. Decriminalization meant there
would be no punishment -- criminal or civil -- under state or federal law.
Nixon reacted strongly to the report. In a recorded conversation on March 21,
the day before the Commission released its report, Nixon said, "We need, and
I use the word 'all out war,' on all fronts ... we have to attack on all fronts."
Nixon and his advisors went on to plan a speech about why he opposed marijuana
legalization, and proposed that he do "a drug thing every week" during the 1972
presidential election year. Nixon wanted a "Goddamn strong statement about marijuana
... that just tears the ass out of them."
Shafer was never appointed to the federal court.
Nixon's private comments about marijuana showed he was the epitome of misinformation
and prejudice. He believed marijuana led to hard drugs, despite the evidence
to the contrary. He saw marijuana as tied to "radical demonstrators." He believed
that "the Jews," especially "Jewish psychiatrists" were behind advocacy for
legalization, asking advisor Bob Haldeman, "What the Christ is the matter with
the Jews, Bob?" He made a bizarre distinction between marijuana and alcohol,
saying people use marijuana "to get high" while "a person drinks to have fun."
He also saw marijuana as part of the culture war that was destroying the United
States, and claimed that Communists were using it as a weapon. "Homosexuality,
dope, immorality in general," Nixon fumed. "These are the enemies of strong
societies. That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff,
they're trying to destroy us." His approach drug education was just a simplistic:
"Enforce the law. You've got to scare them."
Unfortunately, Nixon did more than just "scare them," whoever they were. His
marijuana war rhetoric led to a dramatic increase in arrests. One year after
his "all out war" comments, marijuana arrests jumped to 420,700 a year -- a
full 128,000 more than the year before. Since then, nearly 15 million people
have been arrested for marijuana offenses.
For thirty years, the United States has taken the path of Nixon's prejudice
and ignored the experts. We now have the largest prison population in world
history, and drug problems are no closer to solved. Indeed, plenty of evidence
indicates that drug-related problems are worse than ever.
It did not have to be this way. At the same time that the Shafer Commission
issued its report, the Bain Commission in Holland issued a report that made
similar findings and recommendations. In Holland, they followed the advice of
their experts. Thirty years later Holland has half the per-capita marijuana
use as the U.S., far fewer drug-related problems and spends much less on drug
enforcement. With statistics like that, it's no wonder that most of Europe is
going Dutch. Just last week a British Commission issued a Shafer-like report,
indicating that the U.K. is moving in the Dutch direction.
It is not too late for the U.S. to move to a more sensible path. We are approaching
three quarters of a million marijuana arrests annually. Every year that the
U.S. fails to adopt a policy based on research, science and facts we destroy
millions of lives and tear apart millions of families.
Where will we be in another thirty years if we don't change course and make
peace in the marijuana war? Now that we know the war's roots are rotten -- and
after we've lived through the decades of damage and failure it has produced
-- we should face the facts. The thirty-year- old recommendations of the Shafer
Commission are a good place to start.
Kevin Zeese is the president of Common Sense for Drug Policy (www.csdp.org).
Kevin Zeese, AlterNet March 21, 2002
Transcripts of the tape, and a report based on them, are available at www.csdp.org
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