[Content Note: Racism; drug stigma.]
"At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask [John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator] a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. 'You want to know what this was really all about?' he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. 'The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, 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. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.' I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door."—Dan Baum, in a remarkable read for Harper's on the US' war on drugs, in which he lays out the uncomplicated case for legalization, and the complicated strategy for how best to make legalization work.
[H/T to Shaker Ellie.]