Pills, Powder and Smoke: Uneasy truths about the war on drugs

Book review: Antony Loewenstein dives deep into drug policy but book lacks solutions

A soldier burns large parcels of confiscated illegal drugs in Thailand, circa 1987. Photograph:  Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

A soldier burns large parcels of confiscated illegal drugs in Thailand, circa 1987. Photograph: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

In 1971, Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”, inaugurating what quickly became known as the “war on drugs”. But the real target, one of his advisers, John Ehrlichman, said later, was not drugs, but blacks and hippies.

Ehrlichman was one of the Watergate conspirators, for which he served 18 months in prison. In 1994 he told journalist Dan Baum the drugs war had been designed to undermine opposition to Nixon.

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