Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

News Flash: Drugs Declared Winner in War on Drugs

hippies dancingimagesPot-smoking hippie anti-war activists like the Chicago 7 and LSD-popping elitist Harvard medical school researchers like Timothy Leary gave poor, paranoid President Richard Nixon a hard time back in the late 1960s. As they sipped their highballs, the moral majority– Nixon’s base– decried the nation’s drug abuse.

What’s a president to do? Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy #1” and instituted a blue ribbon commission to investigate the country’s obsession with mood-altering drugs– particularly “marihuana” (sic)– and make recommendations. Unfortunately, US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse’s recommendations were not what Nixon expected or wanted. From the Arizona Daily Star

A year later, the commission released its recommendation: Congress should amend federal law to decriminalize the personal use and possession of cannabis and the casual distribution of small amounts for no or insignificant remuneration, and state legislatures should do the same.

They also found that marijuana didn’t meet the criteria of a Schedule I controlled substance, which would make it, like heroin, an illegal substance lacking any medicinal value.

The commission concluded: “criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in an effort to discourage use. … The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior.” [Emphasis added.]

What?! I don’t remember this. Oh, here’s why… the commission’s report was buried.

Since the report ran counter to his personal beliefs, Nixon refused to read it, shelved it, categorized marijuana as a Schedule I substance and declared an “all out war” on drugs. [Kinda sounds like what happened to the MAS evaluation report that Huppenthal didn’t like.]

Since then, some 21.5 million Americans have been arrested and prosecuted for violation of laws against marijuana. More than 80 percent of those arrested were charged only with possession, not sale. The cost of Nixon’s “war on drugs,” which intensified under Reagan and continues to this day, now exceeds $1 trillion.

The war on drugs has failed. It has had no significant effect on the use and availability of drugs. [Emphasis added.]

For more on failed War on Drugs, how it came about, and how drug policy has evolved in the last 40 years, check out this eye-opening guest commentary in today’s Arizona Daily Star.

Guest Column: Time is long past to acknowledge US has lost the war on drugs

When will we adopt the Shafer Commission’s recommendations and end the War on Drugs?

[This post was published originally on Blog for Arizona on July 5, 2012.]


This entry was posted on July 5, 2012 by in Capitalism, Marijuana, War on Drugs and tagged , .
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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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