50 years of a failed War on Drugs

June 17 marks 50 years since Richard M. Nixon declared drugs “America’s public enemy number one.” Perhaps no political decision has had a greater impact on Latin America’s recent past and present. Now journalists from the region are examining the failed policies of the war on drugs.

Click into this collective production and follow five well-informed articles about the how and when and where this failure persists.

2 thoughts on “50 years of a failed War on Drugs

  1. 4therecord says:

    In 2016, a quote from John Ehrlichman, counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon, was the lede for an anti-drug war article in Harper’s Magazine by journalist Dan Baum. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ehrlichman#Drug_war_quote
    “You want to know what this was really all about?” he (Ehrlichman) 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.”
    Dan Baum, “Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs”, Harper’s Magazine (April 2016) https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/
    Baum states that Ehrlichman offered this quote in a 1994 interview for Baum’s 1996 book, “Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure”, but that he did not include it in that book or otherwise publish it for 22 years “because it did not fit the narrative style” of the book.
    Multiple family members of Ehrlichman (who died in 1999) challenge the veracity of the quote.

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