40 years

The ACLU blog is marking the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s declaration of a “War on Drugs.”

June 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a “war on drugs” — a war which has cost roughly trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United States, and has contributed to making America the world’s largest incarcerator. To mark the occasion, we will be running a series of blog posts throughout the month about the drug war, its victims and what needs to be done to restore fairness and create effective policy.

Keith Humphreys thinks Nixon is getting a bad rap.

As President, he dramatically reduced federal criminal penalties for marijuana possession and launched the largest expansion of drug addiction treatment in U.S. history. I refer of course to Richard M. Nixon, who is today widely remembered as the President who launched the “war on drugs”. Why are his well-documented progressive drug policies almost completely forgotten today, leaving us with a collective memory of Nixon as the original snarling drug warrior?

But Mark Kleiman sets him straight.

Yes, but Nixon’s rhetoric outlived his policies, and is doing damage to this very day.

He invented drug-policy-as-culture-war, and the idea that drug policy was a struggle between the pure-minded Republicans and the druggie Democrats, the party of “acid, amnesty, and abortion.” [...] Nixon’s other great contribution was the idea of blaming Mexico for U.S. drug problems, leading to policies such as “Operation Intercept.” [...]

Nixon is remembered as a nasty SOB because he was a nasty SOB [...]

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