ABSTRACT

On July 14, 1969, President Richard Nixon identified drug abuse as “a serious national threat.” Two years later, on June 17, 1971, President Nixon sternly faced television cameras, calling drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States,” and declared a national War on Drugs. The War on Drugs was declared in response to the turmoil of the 1960s, rising crime, and the blowback of the Vietnam War. Recreational use of psychoactive drugs had become popular among the hippie subculture, the white middle class, and black urban populations. Marijuana was part of the larger counterculture tapestry opposing Nixon’s actions in Vietnam.2 There was also widespread marijuana, heroin, and amphetamine use among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. With no end in sight to an unpopular-and unwinnable-Vietnam War, Nixon waged a war that might be won more easily: an all-out offensive on drugs at home.