DEA begins Operation Green Merchant, a special enforcement operation and investigation targeting businesses advertising horticultural products and equipment used to grow cannabis. The DEA believed various magazines such as High Times, and other pot journalists and hydroponics equipment manufactures, were a cannabis criminal conspiracy worth arresting for marijuana crimes.
Francis Young, administrative law judge with the DEA, recommends that marijuana be placed in Schedule II in response to NORML's 1972 petition. "Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," says Young. But the Reagan administration blocks the ruling. In 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overrules Young's decision so that cannabis remains a Schedule I substance.
1988, First Cannabis Cup, held in Amsterdam and organized by Steven Hager. Since the first High Times cannabis cup in 1988, cannabis laws for recreational and medical use have allowed the event to expand to the United States and abroad.
President Ronald Reagan signs the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986 aiming for a "drug-free" America, which included five and ten-year mandatory minimum sentences for drug cases, including marijuana, delegating money to drug abuse prevention and treatment, and which allocated $1.7 million to fight the drug war.
Marinol is approved as a Schedule II drug for nausea and vomiting as symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. It was later approved in 1992 to treat anorexia due to weight loss in AIDS patients.
Jack Herer publishes The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the most comprehensive book to date about cannabis, hemp, and prohibition. The book covers various uses for the cannabis plant, medical advantages of hemp and cannabis and the history of cannabis and hemp. Twelve editions have been published since its first printing, and the book continues to be referenced in cannabis legalization efforts in the modern era.
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act broadens criminal and civil asset forfeiture laws, while also increasing Federal criminal sanctions for drug offenses. This act includes cannabis drug related sentencing reform, bail, penalties for drug law offenses and more.
First Lady Nancy Reagan travels the country on an anti-drug campaign which she and her advisors dub “Just Say No,” based on her response to schoolchildren’s questions.
The California Department of Justice establishes the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a multi-agency law enforcement task force to eradicate illegal cannabis cultivation and trafficking in the state. Since its creation, at least 110 agencies have participated in the task force. Its influence waned with the 1996 passage of the Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215), but the task force has remained effective as a seasonal eradication program to date.
Robert Randall and Alice O’Leary create the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), a scientifically-focused advocacy organization for medical cannabis. Robert Randall is the first person to successfully have used a medical necessity as their legal defense against charges for cannabis possession. Although ignored by the U.S. DEA, ACT is responsible for a fight in legalizing medical marijuana that included a legal ruling by a federal judge stating that marijuana should be removed as a Schedule 1 listing.
Florida establishes its Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program (FL DME), a multi-agency enforcement program between the DEA and Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The initiative also encompasses 45 police and sheriff’s departments throughout the state of Florida, and tracks illegal cannabis trafficking activities in state jurisdiction.
Virginia State Legislature passes legislation that allows doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma treatment or chemotherapy.
New Mexico passes the first state law to recognize the medicinal values of marijuana. This bill will recognize marijuana as a therapeutic drug with strict controls for patients with debilitating diseases.
September 9, 1978, Rick James releases “Mary Jane” as the second single from his album Come Get It! The song, an ode to cannabis, becomes one of James’s most notable hits and is sampled on many tracks by other artists. In 2022, it is performed onstage by the cast of the Off-Broadway musical Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville.
The Netherlands decriminalize marijuana based on recommendations from a state drugs commission.
1976, Reggae Legend Peter Tosh releases his first solo album, Legalize It, extolling the benefits of marijuana and urging, “legalize it, don’t criticize it, legalize it and I will advertise it.”
Glaucoma patient Robert Randall obtains Federally legal permission to use medical marijuana after suing the FDA, the DEA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
May 27, 1975, Alaska's Ravin v. State ruling protects possession of up to four ounces of marijuana for in-home personal use.
High Times magazine founded by Tom Forcade, a cannabis political activist.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute publishes an academic paper called "Anticancer Activity of Cannabinoids," showing that chemicals in cannabis inhibit the growth of cancer cells in mice.
September 4, 1974, Eastland Subcommittee releases its report, The Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and Its Impact on U.S. Security. From Introduction: “The epidemic began at Berkeley University at the time of the famous 1965 "Berkeley Uprising." Not only was pot-smoking embraced as a symbolic rejection of the establishment, but, together with the "dirty speech movement," the right to pot became an integral part of the catalogue of demands of the uprising.”
At VI: “The Internal Security Subcommittee decided to look into it because of internal security considerations affecting the armed forces of the United States, and because of the evidence that clearly subversive groups played a significant role in the spread of the epidemic—both as propagandists and as traffickers. It was established, for example, in previous hearings of the subcommittee, that Timothy Leary's Brotherhood of Eternal Love had for a number of years been the largest producers of LSD and the largest organized smugglers of hashish in the country.”
August 8, 1974, President Nixon Resigns
June 13, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
“Eastland Hearings”: At XIV: “The widespread acceptance of the myth of harmlessness has been due to several things. Certainly a role of some importance was played by the militant pro-marihuana propaganda campaign conducted by many New Left organizations, by academicians sympathizing with the New Left, and by the entire underground press, ever since the Berkeley uprising.”
NB, on John McClellan: “In 1956, McClellan was one of 82 representatives and 19 senators who signed the Southern Manifesto in opposition to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and racial integration…” “a foe of civil rights legislation and an advocate of harsh penalties for criminals.” “Among Senator McClellan's other investigations were those that involved…the riots in cities and on college campuses in the 1960’s.”
“Eastland Hearings”: J. G. Soorwine, Chief Counsel; Raymond Siflt, Jr., Minority Counsel; John R. Norpel, Director of Research; Alfonso L. Tarabochia, Chief Investigator.
NB: Strom Thurmond: “Mr. Thurmond held the South for Richard M. Nixon's nomination and election, after assuring Southerners that Mr. Nixon, as president, would go easy on civil rights.” ''I don't know of any right-wing extremists, as I define them, bringing harm to the government. Left-wingers have.’' “He continued to connect Communism and civil rights, calling the Freedom Riders of 1961, who sought integrated bus travel, ''red pawns and publicity seekers.''
“Eastland Hearings”: James Eastland, Chair; JOHN L. McCLELLAN, Arkansas; SAM J. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina; BIRCH EVANS BAYH, Indiana; STROM THURMOND, South Carolina; MARLOW W. COOK, Kentucky; EDWARDJ. GURNEY, Florida.
May 9, 1974, Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate (1974). Marihuana-Hashish Epidemic and its Impact on United States Security. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
“Eastland Hearings”: James Oliver Eastland (November 28, 1904 – February 19, 1986) was an American politician from Mississippi who served in the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1941; and again from 1943 until his resignation on December 27, 1978. A wealthy plantation owner, Eastland was best known nationally as a symbol of Southern support of racial segregation in most of his years in the Senate.
Oregon becomes the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. Possession of up to 1 oz or less is decriminalized, punishable by up to $1,000 fine. However, stricter punishments exist regarding the cultivation of cannabis.
October 1973, Steve Miller Band releases The Joker album
President Richard Nixon establishes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to strengthen the government's position in the Drug War and better enforce drug laws through a single administration that may coordinate efforts with other agencies.
January 23, 1973, President Richard Nixon announces agreement ending Vietnam War
National Commission on Marijuana recommends decriminalization, assessing that "criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use."
November 7, 1972, President Richard Nixon is reelected
March 30, 1972, Easter Offensive begins in Vietnam War
Marihuana Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon (original edition)
July 1, 1971, Brookings Institute safe is burglarized
May 8, 1971, “A Person Drinks to Have Fun” Recording—Nixon and Art Linkletter debate alcohol versus marijuana at the White House. Nixon refers to Europeans surviving as “strong races” compared to populations of Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American nations, who he says “have gone down” due to drug use.
May 1, 1971, Controlled Substances Act becomes effective in an effort to improve manufacturing, distribution, dispensing and importation of controlled substances.
April 23, 1971, Veterans Against the War: John Kerry Statement to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
March 1971, folk rock duo Brewer and Shipley release “One Toke Over the Line,” which is later covered by singers on the Lawrence Welk Show and billed as “a modern spiritual.”
President Richard Nixon declares a War on Drugs, claiming drug abuse to be "public enemy number one."
October 27, 1970, The Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as Schedule I, with "no accepted medical use" and is placed in a class of drugs that would have the highest potential for abuse.
October 7, 1970, The Controlled Substances Act passes in the Senate and is signed into law by President Richard Nixon. This act establishes regulations regarding importation, manufacturing, possession and distribution of certain substances.
September 24, 1970, Controlled Substances Act passes in the House
September 10, 1970, Controlled Substances Act Introduced into House (HR 18583). This act would put regulations on manufacturing, possession, importation and distribution of illegal substances.
March 25, 1970, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports on the My Lai massacre: “Some of the soldiers alleged to have perpetrated the My Lai massacre smoked marijuana the night before their unit went into action, a former sergeant told senators Tuesday. Charles West, a 22-year-old Chicagoan, told a Senate investigating panel that at least 60 percent of the members of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, had smoked marijuana at least once.”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is founded by public interest attorney Keith Stroup. In 1971, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner makes a crucial $5,000 grant to support NORML and becomes one of the organization’s primary benefactors through the remainder of the decade.
May 1970, rock band Jefferson Airplane releases “Mexico,” a protest song against Richard Nixon’s anti-drug initiative Operation Intercept, an effort to curtail the transportation of cannabis from Mexico into the US, and encouraging young people to have power in numbers.
March 6, 1970, The Beatles release "Let It Be", including the lyrical reference to cannabis, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
In Timothy Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court holds the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 unconstitutional on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated the Fifth Amendment. Congress responds shortly thereafter by replacing the Marihuana Tax Act with the newly written Controlled Substances Act.
July 15, 1969, Senate Testimony re Berkeley riots and Black Panthers; Eldridge Cleaver speaks. Sen. McClellan chairs the Committee.
January 24, 1968, the film Maryjane is released, starring former teen idol Fabian as a high school teacher who tries to save his students from drugs but gets framed for marijuana possession.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prominent psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is identified by Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
June 10, 1963, SCOTUS rules in Ker v California that lower courts may determine if the Fourth Amendment’s protections against illegal search and seizure are reasonable or unreasonable to arrests and convictions. George and Diane Ker were arrested when Los Angeles police surveilled George Ker meeting a suspicious person who they believed to be part of a drug ring. Though the officers lacked enough proof that the Kers had exchanged money with anyone in the alleged operation, they searched the couple’s apartment without a warrant and found marijuana inside. SCOTUS found that the lower courts which had decided to uphold the Kers’ convictions were reasonable, as evidence indicated that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office had sufficient basis to make a warrantless arrest.
January 1, 1962, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime publishes The cannabis problem: A note on the problem and the history of international action, a study of how “cannabis drugs are misused on the widest scale geographically,” with particular regard to the illegal drug trade.
The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs mandates that all signatories ban cannabis cultivation, distribution, and use.