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Richard Nixon's Vengeful War on Marijuana

President Nixon saw it as a way to hit back against pot-smoking Vietnam protesters, and presidents since have feared being smeared as "soft on drugs."

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On another occasion, Nixon contrasted marijuana to alcohol use saying that marijuana users smoke it to "get high," while "a person drinks to have fun."

Wanting to be strong, "like the Russians," and to "scare" marijuana users, Nixon ordered his administration to come down hard on users and to target them as enemies in his "war on drugs."

The war on marijuana and the false myths associated with its usage have been continued by every president since Nixon. Since 1973, 15 million people, mostly young people who were committing no other crime, have been arrested for marijuana.

In just the last ten years, 6.5 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. Of the 829,625 people who were arrested in 2006, 738,915 of them were in simple possession.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. announced in March 2009 that the administration would discontinue raids on the distributors of medical marijuana, including California - which was the first state to legalize marijuana sales upon a doctor's recommendation.

Although President Obama backed off on arresting medical marijuana users, his 2010 National Drug Control Strategy continues the hard line: "Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them. That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug."

Contrary to the findings of the Shafer Commission, which remains the only comprehensive government study on the subject, Obama goes on to say: "Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems."

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have now followed California in passing laws permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes; however, no state, thus far, has decriminalized personal possession for recreational use or personal enjoyment.

After spending a trillion dollars, the war on marijuana has been a complete failure. Although a marijuana user is arrested every 38 seconds, one hundred million people, or about one third of all Americans acknowledge they have used marijuana, including Obama.

Making a pointed contrast to Bill Clinton's infamous excuse that he had tried marijuana but didn't inhale, Obama told an audience of magazine editors in 2006: "When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point."

Double Standards

But Obama and other politicians who have admitted trying marijuana are not the only hypocrites. The U.S. government has maintained its own double standards, tolerating and protecting some drug traffickers who collaborated with the CIA. The U.S. government also has experimented with mind-altering drugs often on unsuspecting subjects.

For instance:

- Although the U.S. was a signatory to the Geneva Convention protocols banning the use of chemical weapons, the U.S. Army engaged in extensive testing of marijuana and its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as an incapacitating agent in warfare.

A secret research program tested these substances, including highly-concentrated derivatives, on thousands of American GIs without their informed consent.

- The CIA engaged in a ten-year secret program to identify and test drugs for use as truth serums during interrogations and as incapacitating agents. Operation Midnight Climax secretly tested LSD on the unwitting patrons of a CIA-financed whorehouse.

- The U.S. Army envisioned "driving people crazy for a few hours" by spiking a city's water supply and developed a super hallucinogen known as quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ), which was tested on thousands of soldiers. Known as "agent buzz," the Army produced more than 100,000 pounds of the chemical in a facility specifically designed for its incorporation into conventional bombs.

 
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