DEA adds insult to injury, publicizes Nixon’s drug war policies on first day of Black History Month

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s recent Throwback Thursday (TBT) post on Twitter, now known as Black History Month. But that didn’t stop the agency from proudly publicizing its failed war on drugs, which a former presidential adviser later revealed was a targeted attack on the anti-war left and the black community.

The DEA’s TBT post features a photo of the then-president Richard Nixonwho started the war on drugs, receiving a “certificate of special honor” from the International Association of Drug Enforcement Officials “in recognition of extraordinary loyalty and contributions in support of drug law enforcement.”

Marijuana Moment shared comments from several cannabis advocates who branded the DEA’s post as offensive and tone-deaf.

“Is this the agency we should trust to objectively decide the final cannabis schedule? Post drug war propaganda to kick off the first day of Black History Month? wrote Kalika Castille, president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

“Nixon signed the fear- and stigma-based Controlled Substance Act in 1970, declared the disastrous ‘war on drugs’ in 1971, and ignored calls to decriminalize marijuana in 1972. The DEA story leaves all that out,” the Drug Policy Alliance tweeted , referring to the five decades and more than $1 trillion the DEA has spent enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies drugs and establishes criminal penalties. Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug along with heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, ecstasy and peyote.

The War on Drugs and John Ehrlichman: Smearing Blacks and the Antiwar Left

In 2016, writer And Baum began Harper’s Magazine cover story, “Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs,” with quotes from a 1994 interview with Nixon’s top adviser John Ehrlicmann. During the interview, Baum asked why the United States became entangled in a policy of drug prohibition that “has produced so much misery and so few good results.”

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House afterward, had two enemies: the antiwar left and blacks,” replied Ehrlichman, who died in 1999.

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be anti-war or anti-war [Blacks]but causing the public to associate hippies with marijuana and [Blacks] with heroin, and then by heavily criminalizing it, we could destroy those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, disrupt their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about drugs? Of course we did,” Ehrlichman added.

Enter the DEA

This policy has put the United States on a punitive, DEA-led path that has led to disproportionate drug arrests, mass incarceration, and the decimation of countless communities across the country. The Sentencing Project points out that black Americans are 3.8 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than white Americans, even though they use drugs at similar rates.

“Before the War on Drugs, explicit discrimination – and for decades openly racist lynching – were the primary weapons for subjugating blacks. Then mass incarceration, the gradual progeny of a series of congressional bills, made everything much simpler,” the Brennan Center for Justice noted.

Read next: DEA Cannabis Classification: Time to Correct Decades-Old Mistake as Feds Confirm Marijuana’s Medical Benefits

Photo: Courtesy of the DEA

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