The The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, also known as the Shafer Commission, was tasked by president Richard Nixon in the ’70s to investigate cannabis. Nixon personally appointed nine of the 13 members of the commission, which included lawmakers, lawyers, and medical professionals.
The report had two main recommendations for federal law: decriminalize personal use and possession, and decriminalize the act of giving away cannabis. Unsurprisingly, Nixon was not pleased. And you certainly don’t need us to tell you that he did nothing of the sort.
On Tuesday, The Guardian republished an article that originally ran on Feb. 13, 1972. Its lead: “The savage penalties for smoking marijuana in this country are certain to go.” The report compared cannabis prohibition to that of alcohol, and even predicted that “authorities are now going to find it very difficult to hold the line against pot in future.”
Here’s an excerpt:
In Houston a young civil rights worker is serving a 30-year sentence for selling three marijuana joints to an undercover agent, while in Virginia an 18-year-old high-school student is not due out of gaol for 20 years because he smoked marijuana with younger class-mates. Against this draconian legal background a presidential commission has unanimously decided to recommend that all criminal penalties for the private use and possession of marijuana should be abolished… criminal penalties should be retained only for those who sell, grow, or transport the drug.
While the report was incorrect in its assessment that prohibition was on its way out, it did get one thing right: “Pot parties may go into a similar decline but its general use, like alcohol, will surely grow.”
Read it in full at The Guardian.