Meadville, PA: Former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer passed away last week after suffering complications from congestive heart failure. He was 89 years old.
Shafer served as Governor from 1967 to 1971. In 1971, Shafer -- a Republican -- was appointed by President Richard Nixon to chair the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. The Presidential Commission, later known as the Shafer Commission, concluded in 1972 that "neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety," and recommended to Congress that "citizens should not be criminalized or jailed merely for private possession or use."
Though rejected by Nixon -- who refused to even read the report -- and largely ignored by Congress, the Shafer Commission's report was instrumental in convincing several state legislatures to decriminalize penalties for the possession of minor amounts of marijuana. The report was later cited in 1977 by then-President Jimmy Carter, who argued before Congress: "Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to the individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use."
NORML founder Keith Stroup said: "Governor Shafer was an honest public servant who -- when confronted with the evidence that it made no sense to treat responsible marijuana smokers as criminals -- had the courage to stand by his principles, despite enormous pressure from the Nixon administration to modify his views and the commission's recommendations for political ends. To this day, The Marijuana Commission still stands as the most comprehensive governmental study of this subject ever undertaken."
Full text of the 1972 Shafer Commission report is available online at: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm.