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Richard Nixon Adviser: The War On Drugs Was Aimed At Anti-War Protesters And Black People

richard nixon shafer report marijuana

(image via Wikipedia)

A decades old quote from President Nixon’s administration is making front page news and being shared widely around the web. The quote from John Ehrlichman, who served as President Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief gained new notoriety after appearing in a cover story in Harper’s Magazine by author Dan Baum.

“You want to know what this was really all about,” Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, said, referring to Nixon’s declaration of war on drugs. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Here is a statement from the Drug Policy Alliance:

“This explosive admission, while provocative, is sadly nothing new. The Drug Policy Alliance and our allies in the movement to end the drug war have long known that U.S. drug policies and have been inherently racist and discriminatory. Despite comparable rates of drug use and sales, communities of color and other marginalized groups have been the principle targets of drug law enforcement and make up the vast majority of people who have been incarcerated or otherwise had their lives torn apart by the drug war. That said, it is enormously important that this quote has captured so much attention and shed light on the blatantly racist origins of this horrible policy approach.

“DPA’s work is centered on speaking truth to power and demanding accountability for the gross harms caused by the drug war. We challenge draconian sentencing laws, arrest tactics, negligence of life-saving health interventions in favor of prohibitionist policies, stigmatization and bigoted targeting of black and Latino communities here in the U.S., as well as minority and vulnerable populations internationally.

“As world leaders gather next month for the United National General Assembly Special Session on drug policy, DPA urges participants to publicly abandon the drug war, initiated by U.S. politicians like Nixon, which has resulted in overwhelming damage here and across the globe. In preparation for this gathering, we invite the public to join us for a one-day strategy session with some of the nation’s top thinkers who will address the drug war as a racial justice issue and offer visions for reform.”

DPA Fact Sheet: The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. The aging, mostly rural white population that comprises a large part of the conservative voting block will oppose cannabis until they die. And the politicians who were elected by these folks must do nothing that would risk their re-election, so they block all efforts to even discuss the issue in Congress. Answer? Replace your elected officials with those who actually live in the 21st century, and do it soon. Although the President could reclassify pot with the stroke of his pen, the next person in the oval office could reverse it just as easily. Only congress can permanently end this very bad joke.

  2. His creature, the DEA, is one of the most corrupt and unnecessary police agencies in the country. They are a source of over 40 years of massive injustice imposed on the American people through legalized police thuggery.

  3. One would have to assume that President Obama is a black hating bigot and racist against his own color.

    This law was put in place to target(racial profiling) blacks and anti-war kids. By his inaction we can believe he wants the black youths incarcerated in great disproportion to the whites.

    With a stroke of his pen he could change all this. He isn’t afraid to use that pen, he said so himself. So by refusing to help his own color we have to think maybe he hates blacks also!

    Stop the madness Mr. Obama, stop the persecution of your people, stop the raids on folks growing a harmless plant, DE-SCHEDULE NOW you spineless racist.

  4. Very true. I voted against that vile piece of shit in 1972. I couldn’t figure out how he got elected since his fingers were all over the Watergate break in.

  5. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Meanwhile, after 45 hideous years, Nixon’s anti-“marihuana” tyranny rages on in many states. Here in the bowels of a state once governed by another cannabis hater, Nelson Rockefeller, local news reports recently vilified 4 people living on the same street for growing about 350 plants inside two separate houses. The New York State Police led invasions of both properties and the destruction of every last plant, arresting and ruining the lives of 4 more New Yorkers in the process—only because the two young brothers and a middle-aged couple (all white) liked to garden for money. It’s time for people to storm D.C. and demand immediate removal of “marihuana” from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which Nixon signed in late October 1970. Every passing day that fraudulent word gets thusly wielded by law enforcement as valid makes me nauseous.

  6. TheSinnedAngel on

    The damage Nixon inflicted on America is incalculable.
    If the great American experiment ends in failure, Nixon is the cause. I can understand how a Frankenstein like Nixon could be conceived. What I cannot understand is how his insane perpetrations have been allowed to thrive and flourish in the years since his disgrace. For that, all of our government needs to be held accountable to the world.
    The Sinned Angel

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