Jim Crow, Old Crow, Al Capone, and Richard Nixon

By George Lundberg, MD, Editor-at-Large, MedPage Today

When President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” in 1971, he was merely placing a new administrative emphasis on the American prohibition of many psychoactive substances that began in 1914 — 41 years later, it isn’t even surprising for this columnist to agree with many others, including noted conservative Pat Robertson, who have declared that war to be over, the country having suffered ignominious defeat.

Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander in her acclaimed new book argues eloquently that the Drug War is The New Jim Crow. It seems that Nixon’s failed drug war was never only about drugs.

It was, and is, about subjugating African Americans by incarceration on felony drug charges, intended to deny them the right to vote, as one element of Nixon’s long successful Southern Strategy for Republican success.

So although this “war” failed in its efforts against drugs, it did and does succeed as a political strategy by depriving millions of citizens of their right to vote, even lifelong.

As a toxicologist and forensic pathologist, I have been on the record since 1971 that marijuana is far less harmful  than either tobacco or alcohol.

 

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http://www.medpagetoday.com/Columns/At-Large/32681