Richard Nixon On Pot

Previously Unheard Nixon Recordings To Be Broadcast Exclusively On NORML’s Daily AudioStash

Washington, DC: Former President Richard Nixon believed that Americans who advocated for marijuana law reform “weren’t good people” and repeatedly warned members of the National Commission on Marihuana (sic) and Drug Abuse not to issue findings that could appear to be “soft on marijuana,” according to never-before aired Presidential audio-tapes to be broadcast today on NORML’s Daily AudioStash, online at:

The audio, made available to the public for the first time on the NORML AudioStash, captures several conversations between Nixon, his staff, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer – who headed the 1972 Marihuana Commission.

In the recordings, Nixon and Shafer consistently voice their objections to legalizing or regulating marijuana use in a manner similar to alcohol – a proposal that they note was then-favored by several members of Congress. Nixon also warns Shafer about making any recommendations that might appear to run contrary to the administration’s anti-drug position.

“The thing that is so terribly important here is not to appear that the Commission [is] frankly just a bunch of do-gooders … that would come out with something that would run counter to what the Congress feels and … what we’re planning to do,” Nixon told Shafer on September 9, 1971.

He added, “On the marijuana thing, I have very strong convictions. … Just on my own analysis, once you start down that road, the chances of going further down that road are great. I know there’s a lot [of experts] who disagree with that … because of the people that are, frankly, promoting it [but] they’re not good people.”

Separate recordings taped on March 21, 1972 – the day before the Commission released its findings – indicate that the White House intended to bury the report’s findings. Speaking with his domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman, Nixon affirmed that his administration would not endorse the Commission’s recommendations to decriminalize the private possession and use of pot.

President Nixon: What is your feeling about this damned report, this thing?
John D. Ehrlichman: A lousy report.
President Nixon: Can we give an inch on this?
Ehrlichman: No, sir. No, sir. There is no place—
President Nixon: How was he able to sell all that [inaudible].
Ehrlichman: Well, I’ll never understand what went on in that commission, ’cause this guy, for instance, from Rockford is a —
President Nixon: John Howard [inaudible].
Ehrlichman: —rock-ribbed conservative.
President Nixon: Well, what do you think about legalizing the use and possession of marijuana?
Ehrlichman: It’s a crazy rule. What they’ve done is they’ve come half way. It’s this, it’s like liquor. There would be no law against consuming liquor at home, but there’d be a law against selling it. Now how the hell can you make that work?
President Nixon: Well, I made it clear enough to him that I don’t endorse it.
Ehrlichman: He’s not [under] any illusions, … and I made it very clear to him before he came in here so that he’s not under [any] misapprehensions.

To hear these and other audio transcripts, please visit