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The so-called “War On Drugs” has largely been seen by critics as a draconian tactic that has impacted communities of color negatively and unfairly over the years. In a new article from Harper’s magazine a 1994 interview with President Richard Nixon advisor John D. Ehrlichman, in which he stated the policy was aimed to disrupt Black people and war protesters, is reexamined.

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Veteran writer and author Dan Baum conducted the original interview with Harper’s, which resurfaced for the magazine’s “Legalize It All” cover story. Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, and his candid conversation with Baum did not avoid the elephant in the room with him explicitly saying the Nixon anti-drug policy hid a far more insidious plot.

Harper’s editor-in-chief Ellen Rosenbush writes in an introductory editor’s letter:

It was not until speaking to Richard Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, John Ehrlichman, that Baum began to hazard the answer he long feared: the catastrophic collateral wrought by the drug war on the lives of millions of black families was intentional. “Did we know we were lying about the drugs?” Ehrlichman told Baum in 1994. “Of course we did.” The Nixon White House thought of the antiwar left and black people as enemies. “But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” 

Baum looks at how decriminalization and the legalization of medical marijuana had all but revealed the farce that the War on Drugs was. It was public knowledge that Nixon’s policy held its divisive aims, but recent conversations of legalization remain contentious between opposing parties.

Baum presumes in his piece that if the political red tape can be cut through, there exists a potential for states to legally and safely distribute drugs.

SOURCE: Harper’s | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty


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Nixon Aide Admitted War On Drugs Was Aimed To Dismantle Black Community  was originally published on