Pubdate: Thu, 1 Jul 2010
Source: News-Press (Fort Myers, FL)
Copyright: 2010 John Chase
Author: John Chase


Opinions expressed in your recent package about marijuana assume (1)
pot was outlawed because it is dangerous, or (2) prohibition is an
effective way to contain the danger. Both beliefs are contradicted by
America's 20th century history.

First, Nixon's Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, wrote in his diary in
1969, "(President Nixon) emphasized that you have to face the fact
that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a
system that recognized this while not appearing to."  That was
corroborated in an interview with Nixon's other top aide, John
Ehrlichman, in 1996 by Dan Baum in preparation for his book "Smoke
and Mirrors."

During that interview, John Ehrlichman said, "oeLook, we understood we
couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United
States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood
that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be,
but it was such a perfect issue for the Nixon White House that we
couldn't resist it."

In October 1970, Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act, which put
pot in the most restrictive category, along with heroin.

Second, Americans know from experience trying to stamp out alcohol,
that prohibition causes more societal damage than it prevents,
although Prohibition was not all bad.

During the 1920s, cirrhosis of liver declined, as did alcoholism, and
we knew it then.

But we finally quit trying to stamp out alcohol in 1933. In 77 years,
no one has seriously proposed going back to Prohibition, even though
we now know of fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol-related diseases.

John Chase

Palm Harbor
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