40 Years Ago Today: Congress Was Told To Tell The Truth About Marijuana; They Didn’t

Forty years ago today, a Congressionally mandated commission on US drug policy did something extraordinary: they told the truth about marijuana.

On March 22, 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse — chaired by former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer — recommended that Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offense. State legislatures, the Commission added, should do likewise.

“[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use,” concluded the 13-member Commission, which included nine hand-picked appointees of then-President Richard Nixon. “It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.

“… Therefore, the Commission recommends … [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense.”

Members of the Commission further acknowledged that marijuana did not meet the criteria of a schedule I controlled substance under federal law, a classification that places cannabis along side heroin as a prohibited substance without any therapeutic value.

Nonetheless Nixon, true to his ‘law-and-order’ roots, shelved the report and its recommendations — announcing instead, “We need, and I use the word ‘all out war,’ on all fronts.” Since Nixon’s rejection of the Shafer report, annual data from the FBI reports that more than 21.5 million Americans have been arrested and criminally prosecuted for violating marijuana laws. Upwards of 80 percent of those arrested were for charged with possession only offenses, not sales or trafficking.

Yet despite the federal government’s 40-year ‘war on pot,’ today an estimated 45 percent of US adults acknowledge having consumed cannabis at some point in their lives, with nearly 12 percent admitting having done so in the past year. A majority of Americans now say that the plant should be legalized and regulated for adults. Over 80 percent of Americans say that cannabis should be available as a therapy when recommended by a physician.

Why? Because Western civilization has been using cannabis as a therapeutic agent or recreational intoxicant for thousands of years with relatively few adverse consequences — either to the individual user or to society. In fact, no less than the World Health Organization has acknowledged: “Overall, most of these risks (associated with marijuana) are small to moderate in size. In aggregate they are unlikely to produce public health problems comparable in scale to those currently produced by alcohol and tobacco. On existing patterns of use, cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies.”

Forty years ago today the Nixon administration had an unprecedented opportunity to enact a rational pot policy. They were provided with the truth about cannabis, but they refused to listen.

Four decades later, it is time for the Obama administration to listen — and to act. It’s time to make peace with pot.

144 thoughts

  1. Wow what I just read in Dons post made me relize that we should stick together. Why not have a nation wide sit in on all major highways leading into the biggest cities in OUR great country! LasVegas, San Fran, New york, Charolette, Miami e.t.c. If we sat down and showed these politicans that we are not scared and want our freedom to choose what we feel is right for OUR people and legalize POT. The news coverage nation wide alone would have congress in an up roar. The govt only work when it is affraid of the people not when the people are scared of the govt. Sorry to ramble people but when you cant get a job because you are a weekend smoker a non drinker and an honest man, something needs to change The Govt!!!!! I know im willing to sit on I77 in North Carolina to shut down a city for one day to prove that there are hundreds of thousands pot smokers out there who will do anything to get a plant God gave us legalized!!!!! An 8 hr sit in that shuts down main hwys into citys would cost the Govt so much money they would have to listen, the stock market would loose billions. The U.S govt couldnt do any thing about it being the Big Brother To all other countries, how would that look if they turned on THEIR OWN PEOPLE when OUR govt is fighting everyone elses battles. This sit in would be epic, the biggest sit in HISTORY, the day the govt lost money over our God givin right to smoke pot!!!!! I think it is a great idea so think people if you quit being such chicken shits and stand up for what you believe then why not have a sit and give a shit to make a difference!!!!!!! NATION WIDE SIT IN!!!!!! LET US THE PEOPLE CHOOSE WHAT WE WANT NOT THEM!!!!!!!

  2. @Scotty – You got it! Can you imagine how many jails and courthouses would have to shut down? Incarceration is big business!

  3. @slosh – I’m down for the highway sit in if NORML will coordinate it and let us know when, where, and how we should go about it! That would be sure to get the nations attention.

  4. I like what you’re saying Slosh. I think we do need some sort of mass civil disobediance/mass non participation in the system. I think we need to do it much longer than one day though

  5. It seems that pot prohibition is locked in like a fukn ratchet. Between stupid lawmakers having to back peddle and admit their ignorance, busy-body bible-thumpers spewing their holier-than-thou cult rhetoric, or vested interests which profit from the prohibition… it will be a tough sell. You get some idea of the force that needs to be brought to bear when you consider that the people (as a majority) do not favor prohibition. There again, we have the minority power mongers somehow overriding the people. Same fukn thing has been happening with regard to financial bullshit! Someone said something about violence. I am highly opposed to that, but it might be the only way for the people to take back their rights from the a-holes who put sticks in our wheels!!!

  6. As for you Obama, I realize that you are just the main actor on a stage that is actually run by your puppet masters… but at least open your fukn mouth, even if you are too stupid or weak to do anything about it! You are still tight-lipped I noticed about dealing with how Co$ blackmailed the IRS in 1993. Yeah… I know… it makes you fukheds look bad, allowing your “top” men to be compromised like that… 🙂 I am not finished with you yet.

  7. It is not up to the so-called government to decide what is “therapeutic” for ME. Obama… you and your sidekicks better keep that in mind next time you confront your puppet masters. Same for you there Mr Crime Minister Harpoon of the far fukn north in Canada… 🙂 A roach up your rectum might be your best enema… 🙂

  8. @Paradigm Shift – “Its funny when people can read this and still think we live in some sort of democracy”. Well PS, that will take yet another PS… 🙂 For example… With all due respect to seafood… One thing I like about bass-turds is that you can use a regular jagged knife to extract the turds from the bass… 🙂

  9. King Congress just can’t help themselves…. or…. hmmmmm…. actually maybe they CAN…. after all what are rectums for anyway… 🙂

  10. After that individual died, his presidential library received audio taped documentation of conversations previously unreleased until actual death. That is, his dealings in private which affected all Americans and kept under lock and key till after he died.

    Besides making clear his role in the Watergate scandal, the tapes also demonstrate that this person had no knowledge or cannabis, personal or otherwise, yet he ignored his own commission’s recommendation that Schedule 1 status was clearly not appropriate for cannabis, as a matter of fact (scientists can claim fact in pragmatic medical terms) and that cannabis should not be illegal either.

    He ignored it. Just more evidence that some other entity controls the executive.

    He also schemed to create a system of HMO’s and a hospital-pharmacy-triad that would enrich few people and drive the prices of all three out the roof. That crappy system is still around today as you know. People leave the US to get surgical procedures done in foreign hospitals, and they they get better treatment and outcomes, at a fraction of the cost.

    Then after he campaigned on a promise to end the war in Vietnam. Which was a genocide campaign of carpet bombing and self-enrichment for weapons makers, on villagers and farmers in a far off country, millions killed, and then hundred of thousands of American troops sent over to march around in circles with no real strategy or plan to “win” (see the Pentagon Papers) against those who were not our enemies.

    Nixon is more to blame than Anslinger and Hearst for this ongoing injustice and lunacy.

    The latter both used lies and propaganda to sell a lie by calling hemp by the unfamiliar “dangerous” term marijuana. It was Nixon who had a commissioned report which found as conclusion, it was inscrutably against the schedule 1 status designation and criminalization of cannabis was clearly an untenable, dishonest, and inappropriate policy. And he supported this nonsense by use of force, bolstering pointless, useless, unethical federal agency bureaucracy growth to enforce NON-CRIMES.

    He ignored it. And if you listen to his tapes, most of his “affairs” are permeated with his diabolical hand rubbing, and penile erection, a near-drooling sort of greed and fantasy state of corruption and frenzied money grabbing. It is apparent that in his dealings, he seems motivated by an unmentioned influence, which he himself gives no (good) reasons of his own to undertake his scheming.

    He’s “not a crook.” Instead he was a lying, thieving, self-interested POS who talked with the sort of arrogance of a mob boss, who would kill anyone in his way, the way he talked about Daniel Ellsberg, who had exposed the actual “plan” and “operations” in Vietnam: troops walking in blindly in circles, with no apparent goal, with a background of constant carpet bombing for over four presidential terms.

    Prohibition creates organized crime. Organized crime is chased around endlessly by agencies who receive budgets suitable to actual war-time related expenses (as if it is a *real* war, when it is just an ongoing campaign of terrorization and harassment, obvious theft, and sometimes killing people who possess harmless dried flowers, a non-crime, whether they are smoked or used as potpourri.

    Nixon. the only one to resign to avoid the exposure of even worse misconduct

    Reagan. lied about cannabis being the “most dangerous drug” which “killed brain cells” which are both unquestionably false.

  11. As much as it would be great, awesome, terrific, if Obama actually made a significant change that would affect nearly everyone and every taxpayer…

    he won’t do it. This is not pessimism or negativity. It is obvious he won’t do anything but treat it as a non-issue, not a topic of discussion at all, as if just talking about it is too risky.

    They gave him the Nobel Peace Prize.

    That is usually given to people who make real sacrifices.

    Obama hasn’t earned it, period. This is obvious.

    Token Nobel Prize. Even though he would deservedly earn it a thousand times over for ending the stupid worthless draconian prohibition.

    But then again, the executive is controlled by other forces. Other people. Skull and bones alumnae and organized crime.

    The Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone can win it apparently. [Obama’s picture]

  12. Everyone can take part in a simple action. Throw seeds to all places!!!!! !!!!!!! !!!!!! into everywhere with dirt, in the ditches, in their back yards, on the roadsides, down the cliff sides, into the air to fall to the ground, the public and private places or property. Words are cheap. It takes action to make change.

  13. Johnny appleseed method, I’ve been told, it didnt work? But with the growing tech we have now why not? What would be the best sex of plant that produces the most seeds that will procreate and spread and root well? Seeds are expensiveplaces also. And till you the truth i haven’t seen a seed in years. But yes every State everywhere. Free the weed, spread the seed :)-

  14. We need to stop electing idiots and start electing the real smart people. Why is it through history there has always been really smart people and none of them ever get elected our leader? Doctors, scientists, inventors, and other geniuses never seem to get elected could you imagine a country with Einstein as the leader? That is another reason I am voting for Ron Paul he is a M.D. and easily the smartest of the bunch.

  15. The Truth is known !!!!!!!its time we make them act on what we want. They are making to much money off marijauana being illegal from their production of it, then the arrest and legal side of it. I’m sick of being known as a criminal because I love and respect the benefits of marijuana. The people are suppose to run a democracy , not the other way around….. like Rome the higher ups acted on what the people wanted or they would be kaos. Lets demands the same!!!

  16. Why consume any of these toxic products at all. Visit a mental health hospital and see the result of the consumption of marijuana. Tobacco and alcohol are also having a massive impact on our health. Why not decline these bad habits and enjoy an improvement in general health.

  17. @ everyone who read my rant! The saying goes easier said then done well thats crap! WE can do any thing when the numbers are strong to get real recognition requires peaceful and untried tactics! Why not have a sit in and close these highways for just one day? WE will be heard!!! I would love to figure out away to do so with the help of NORML. For as many petitions we have all signed whats really been done? One peaceful SIT ON 420 2013 would be great!!!! pass this on to all of your friends, family, partners, musicains, celeberties(if you know any), pass on to all who smoke or just know that our rights are being violated! So pass it around see what WE as THE PEOPLE can ACCOMPLISH!!!!!!!! 1st Annual Sit In 2013!!!!!

  18. Hi . The Shafer Commission and famous site for
    consideration of the MTSA [druglibrary.org] uh
    have the potential to begin cannabis law as on
    premise the amended taxes would be means of !!
    legally smoked cannabis available with accord:
    MTSA began the time of prohibition because the
    Federal Minimum wasn’t paid to begin newer OK*
    grass tax reason of worth to position health a
    reason.ing to begin Manna Legal desig:18345.6:
    as with accord to offer the ideal with [Mword]
    Tax Stamp Act (which I re-wrote) though I then
    was asked through a spurious means to pay the:
    Federal Minimum on Grass Tax being calculated*
    at 100 dollars !!tax!! a California ounce ~pot
    and though the newer Grass Tax was exhorbinant
    it is said to have paid the Federal Minimum in
    the year 2007 and then offered repeal not with
    a way to make it illegal [nor prohibit] again*
    though to lower the 3.50$ a gram Grass Tax to:
    more like 1 dollar per 5 grams with National :
    Legally Smoked referral to Federal Law desig~*
    nation known to East Coast TriCameral as 18345
    .6 for Nation Legal_\|/_ and .8 for GreenLeaf.

    The Grass Tax I offered includes the following
    in two different editions :: Act of August31st
    2001 (2002 Stat. 759; U. S. C., 2001 ed.,title
    28, secs. 1053-1081, 1385-1398) :: Act of June
    15, 2005 (2003 Stat. 758; U. S. C., 2003 ed.,
    title 24, sections. 1053-1081,1385,1391-94, ..
    1397-8) are the ruling to begin paying the Fed
    Minimum and lower the grass tax to New Mexico
    standard known as 1$ a gram cannabis not then
    requiring stamp affixed to cannabis product .

    The best ideal will be Nation Legal_\|/_ 18345
    eco~quarter pound being 100 grams cannabis bud
    with 1 dollar tax each 5 grams . 20$s per 100g
    is a good deal and will be with 2011ed 2012OM:
    Newer Health Ruling to Begin U.S.C. 2005~12feu
    Supreme Court not aware of wanted ruling so on
    promoted record to begin Manna Legal Acquired.

    Thanks. Sorry for the confusion. NORML _\|/_ /

  19. @ag – I agree that pot is not for everyone… but the main point is that, regardless of benefits or not, the prohibition is a flagrant breech of civil rights… and THAT is a big fukn deal with me! Cheers.

  20. The problem is, you won’t get the kind of support from people even though they agree with the article and it’s findings 100%. The reason why is people are scared to death to loose their incomes, their jobs, their lives, the damage to their families, the loss of their children if both parents are busted, and if one is busted and goes to prison the loss of the man of the house who is probably the income the family relies on would be lost thus severly harming the family.

    People don’t want anyone to know in many cases, and don’t want that knowledge to damage the family.

    Sorry but that’s the way it is.

  21. Despite the fact that it has taken us 40 years to get here we are making some progress. I feel that a great deal of the progress that Medical Marijuana Legalization has made in the last 10 years has been due to the internet and it’s wide reaching forum such as this. Pass it on, go viral, we will prevail in our struggle.

  22. From Ed Rosenthal’s
    Marijuana Grower’s Handbook: Your Complete Guide for Medical and Personal Marijuana Cultivation

    IN 1971, a bold young attorney named R. Keith Stroup got a tiny grant from Hugh Hefner and started the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). One of the main differences between Amorphia and NORML was that Stroup preferred a more traditional legislative approach to reform, working with politicians and suits rather than hippies, and hated initiatives because he was sure they would fail. The time was right for both groups, because the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Tim Leary case had made the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act unenforceable.

    unenforceable. In response, President Richard Nixon proposed a new federal law, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This new scheme created a system of schedules for dangerous drugs, with penalties dependent on which schedule the drug was in, but gave the U.S. Attorney General, John Mitchell, final power to designate the schedule for each drug. Marijuana, Mitchell decided, would go in Schedule I along with heroin, instead of Schedule II or III for drugs with recognized medical uses, such as cocaine and amphetamines. Pot was officially the drug of hippies, not doctors.

    THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT included another feature. At the insistence of then-Congressman and future New York City Mayor Ed Koch, the bill created the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. Nixon appointed seven of its 13 members, including its chairman, Raymond Shafer, the former governor of Pennsylvania who was then a national Republican Party leader. We didn’t have much faith in its credibility, but both NORML and Amorphia wrangled invitations to the Commission hearings in San Francisco in June 1971. I introduced Allen Ginsberg—clean-shaven, necktied, and wearing a porkpie hat—as “our spiritual and financial adviser.” I presented the case for legalization with emphasis on cultivation, telling the Commission that, in the future, “Amorphia intends to engage in the production of legal marijuana on a non-profit basis.” In March, 1972, to our astonishment, the Shafer Commission recommended that federal law be amended so that possession, use, or “casual distribution” of small amounts of marijuana by adults in private would no longer be a criminal offense. Possession or distribution in
    public would garner a $100 fine, while cultivation or sale of marijuana for profit would remain criminal, felony offenses.

    President Nixon rejected the Commission’s report out of hand.

    In a taped Oval Office conversation with his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, Nixon said, “I want a Goddamn strong statement on marijuana… that just tears the ass out of them… every one of those bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there’s so many, all the great psychiatrists are Jewish. We are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss.”

    Such was the character of Dick Milhouse Nixon, the lowest sort of degenerate, a phallus-nosed, bitter, racist, and greed-driven loser who never should have stepped foot in the Oval Office, which arguably occurred ONLY because his main campaign strategy was about ending the vicious war for profit in Vietnam. Of course, he did not do so, but his best to keep it going. That two-faced dick-nosed SOB responsible for the Controlled Substances Act (an intellectually dishonest scam) can rot.

    If there’s a hell, Nixon is there rubbing elbows with other ‘elite’ assholes like Hitler and Stalin.

  23. If we think we’re pussies then we will be. Reach deep people. See whats right. Change is OK. Let these spring rains sooth us. I saw a hummingbird moth for the first time today, it was wonderful.

  24. Maybe we should highlight the failure of our current policies!
    1. Our prohibition has caused the direct murder of over 50,000 mexicans in the last 5 years.
    2. With the 800,000 arrests made in the us..
    a) countless waists are tied up in court, prosecution, prison and other costs.
    b) every state and county has a sex/ murder crime from known offenders let free from pison due to overcrowding. This is due to mandatory minimums.
    c) with 25% of world inmates and only 5% of world population can we truly be the land of the free.
    3. Most associated crimes are a direct result of prohibition itself.

    Everyone rallies around the benefit of marijuana and not the downfalls of the current politics. Legalization can only come from the backlash of the politics and not merits. Every grower, cop, healthcare, profess., counselor and confused/misinformed voter is going to vote no, but if they truly were informed about the major/destructive policies and countless human lives destroyed…


  25. well guys and Gals Dr Ron Paul is running for Pres. if you did not vote for him, this problem of legislation is your fault. i voted for him.now if you feel its more important to steel my hard earned cash to give to lazy people then any of the other 4 are your choice. ( and there MJ policy s are the same too. Paul is the only different choice.

  26. @Slosh, frankly people like you are part of the problem not the solution.. if you’d rather be jobless than give up ‘weekend smoking’ you have your priorities a bit screwed up. Until the law changes, maybe you should consider coming down, bucking up and earning a living. (yet somehow you have money to buy pot)

  27. talk about separation of church and state. How about God and Nation? What , the country won’t make a profit from legalization, and decriminalization for ppl who smoke in the privacy of their homes. I’ve always been in favor of these eye opening and humanitary epiphanies. Get with the program you ppl in gov’t and Mr. President. stand up for what’s right!! You guys are wasting enuf of our money by keeping menand women in jails for such pettyness. For every cop bustin someone for a joint, they could be out there catchin the REAL CRIMINALS and YOU know what they are.

  28. I have a dream… that someday no one will be prosecuted or
    incarcerated for a plant! An amazing plant that can feed, clothe, house & heal us. A plant that can bring peace & harmony to our lives…I have a dream…ZINN PIXX

  29. “Drug war” prohibition makes the U.S. a weaker world super power. Sapping our resources, fighting constant battles HERE, along our borders, not 1/2 a world away! The “drug war” is un-American & treasonous, pointing out our vulnerabilities with constant incursions into the U.S. 24-7! India is under constant suicide attack from Pakistan. Thanks to the “drug war”, submarines have pointed out a serious chink in our armor! Evil doers could use the “drug war”, thanks to Border Wars with it’s numerous clones, cue Steven Segal & Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as a road map to mayhem! Add collateral “drug war” deaths like Jose Guerena, valiant Marine veteran coldly cut down doing exactly what his country TRAINED him to do, defend his family! The Pima County, Arizona SWAT team shot Jose more than 60 times after he told his wife & 4 year old son to hide as they broke in. We need to stand up & shout, NO WAY, YOU CAN’T GO ON KILLING MARINES LIKE JOSE FOR UNJUST REASONS! The cost in American blood & a trillion or 2 of treasure lost is too high to measure. None other than Fox News, via John Stossel, is calling for an end to the “drug war”! You expect Fox News to agree with the 700 Club, but they are both AGAINST the “drug war” thanks to Pot Robertson, er make that Pat Robertson! Worldwide forces are coming into alignment to slay the “drug war” demon & Sir Richard Branson is going to hurl it into outer space via Virgin Galactic!

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