The current President is certainly not helping the cause of legalization. During his campaign, Donald Trump promised he was in favor of states rights with regards to cannabis, yet he placed Jeff Sessions in the role of Attorney General. Sessions is the poster child for the anti-marijuana forces.
Yet, many Presidents in the past have been in favor of cannabis. The Emporer Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer documented many of the past presidents and their relationship with the cannabis plant. While many in the cannabis industry may already know these interesting factoids. It’s always good to review on the President’s Day.
Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations, albeit hemp. Washington wrote in his diary in 1765 that he “Began to separate the male from the female hemp…rather too late.” It was important to Washington to develop an American supply of hemp so it wouldn’t have to rely on England for it.
Thomas Jefferson illegally smuggled particularly good hemp seeds from China. He wrote in his farm and garden journal on March 16, 1791, “It is impolitic The fact well-established in the system of agriculture is that the best hemp and the best tobacco grow on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country.”
Jefferson went on to write, “Hemp employs in its rudest state more labor than tobacco, but being a material for manufactures of various sorts, becomes afterwards the means of support to numbers of people, hence it is to be preferred in a populous country.”
Abraham Lincoln’s wife was prescribed cannabis for her nerves after his assassination. Herer’s book claims that “virtually every president from the mid-19th century up until prohibition routinely used cannabis medicines.”
Performer Eddie Gordon claimed he smoked marijuana with President John Kennedy who used it for his back pain. Gordon and fellow performer Morey Amsterdam say that Kennedy had planned to legalize marijuana in his second term but was assassinated before he was able to complete that plan.
President Gerald Ford’s sons smoked marijuana in the White House as did Jimmy Carter’s son Chip. Under President Carter, it looked as if legalization would have its best chance to happen. According to the book Smoke Signals by Martin Lee, A Ladies Home Journal article wrote of a summer jazz festival on the White House lawn during that administration and stated that the haze of marijuana smoke hung in the air.
President Obama was widely expected to make a bold move towards legalization before leaving office which he didn’t. However, Obama did oversee the creation of the Cole Memorandum which jump-started the cannabis industry of today.
Blame It On College
Vice President Dan Quayle (President George Bush) reportedly smoked marijuana in college as did President Obama and President Clinton. Quayle even suggested that marijuana should be decriminalized.
Just Say No
Even though Ronald Regan and Nancy Reagan headed up the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, Ronnie apparently smoked pot in the Governor’s mansion in California before becoming President. His daughter Patti Davis was very open about smoking marijuana.
The Bush presidential dynasty was in the camp of big pharma and definitely not marijuana or hemp supporters. President George H. W. Bush was made a director at Eli Lilly after his stint as CIA director, by Dan Quayle’s Dad, who owned a controlling interest in Lilly. The Bush’s owned stock in Eli Lilly (LLY), Abbot Laboratories (ABT), Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY), and Pfizer (PFE). While Lilly did make cannabis drugs at the turn of the century, the big pharma companies exited the cannabis drug business.
When H. W. Bush was Vice President under Reagan he was named in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System to stop marijuana from entering the United States.
Ultimately though it was President Nixon who did the most damage to the legalization campaign when he classified marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. In the president’s tape recorded conversations he said things like “That’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists . . .”
Nixon also believed that the country’s drug problems were because of African Americans and by taking a hard line on marijuana he could create a system that targets blacks without appearing to. He associated war protestor with drugs and tried to have John Lennon deported for using marijuana.
Happy President’s Day!