How the Vietnam war pushed the world into the ‘War on drugs’

Many may not know that the “War on Drugs” started because some of the soldiers from the Vietnam war got hooked on heroin.

The “War on Drugs” is a blanket term that is used by the United States government to describe their ongoing battle against drugs, or more specifically their import into the country.

There are hundreds of articles saying how the United States invaded Afghanistan to maintain the worldwide drug trade and keep themselves on top of the game, but this isn’t one of those articles.

The truth is, the ‘”War on Drugs” started as a way to criminalize anti-war whites and African-Americans in the ’70s.

How cannabis prohibition started

The prohibition of marijuana in the US started right before the outbreak of World War 1.

The federal regulators started squeezing really hard all those involved in the hemp industry.

Hemp’s similarity with Cannabis indica was incentive enough after the drug reform laws were passed in the 30s. Legal production of cannabis and hemp pretty much halted.

It was the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that effectively made possession or transfer of marijuana illegal throughout the United States.

For the next 30 years, the regulations didn’t change much, except for mandatory sentencing and increased punishment.

Those changes were enacted when the United States Congress passed the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956.

Even tougher regulations

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 didn’t help the situation either, in fact, it only made it worse.

According to this piece of legislation, marijuana was scheduled as a Class 1 type of drug, which meant that it had a high potential for abuse, no accredited medical use, and a lack of accepted safety.

Its peers were heroin, meth, and later the federal government added drugs such as crack, mescaline, peyote, and others.

At the same time, Nixon was on his 1968. presidential campaign and his platform was based on drug laws reform.

However, only several decades later is when we found out that his platform was entirely based on discrimination and what could only be described as typical profiling.

In an interview for Harper’s Magazine, Nixon’s Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman said the following:

“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.” 

After the Nixon administration, Ehrlichman was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury for his part in the Watergate incident. He served 6 months in prison.

On the other hand, if you were caught by the police 3 times with weed you were eligible to go in prison for life due to the Three-strikes law.

This created the perfect narrative for marijuana to become an “entry level drug”, or the gateway drug which would necessarily lead towards heroin and other drugs.

Nixon called for the War on Drugs as a means of suppressing his biggest national voting opposition: Hippies and African-Americans.
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