“THE Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people”
explains former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman in a 1994 interview.
“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.”
Promoting casual drug users from procrastinating college students into “accomplices of murder” in the words of Nancy Reagan, the “war on drugs” hit marijuana and its users hard. Newly classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) marijuana was recognized as a substance with no accepted medical usage and high potential for abuse, in the same league as heroin, ecstasy, or meth.
With the introduction of “three strikes laws” across the country, many users of marijuana ultimately faced decades or even life in prison from nonviolent drug offenses after repeated violations. Government initiatives such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) encouraged school aged children to simply refuse drugs, yet are often tied by more modern studies as the cause that inspired teenagers to try weed in the first place. Ultimately, the war on drugs inspired by the mass movement against marijuana and other drugs has objectively failed, with large volumes of drugs sized and millions arrested only to have insignificant change in drug usage amongst the populace to show for it.