Quote of the Day

The Nixon tapes reveal the President endorsing methadone maintenance for heroin addicted patients

Moving someone from heroin to methadone — that’s a wonderful move.

–President Nixon, in an oval office conversation with Mayor Daley during which he tried to persuade Daley to expand methadone maintenance for heroin addicted people in Chicago

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

    1. The federal penalty for marijuana possession was 10 years when Nixon took office. He changed the law to be one year, with the option for the judge to waive that. It would be 40 years before anyone succeeded in eliminating a mandatory minimum sentence.

  1. That quote is obviously followed by a very cautionary tale about letting the government manage your habit. Nixon thought the government could step in and substitute itself for your local pusher and everyone would jump on the gravy train…well, lot’s of folks did jump on that gravy train. The police. The courts. Probation services. Drug counselors. Prison guards. Drug testing companies….

    Everyone except most of those who needed the “H” train.

    I’d suggest that my “Get a junkie a job plan” might be a better idea, as well as access to needle exchanges and good dope. Because we’re just kidding ourselves about whether this Nixon sort of thing helps those who really need it — or the vast army of “helpers” who have no incentive to do anything but keep going through the motions of “doing something.” Somehow the spotlight of fiscal rectitude and performance assessment has been turned on every other social benefit program. Why is the “drug war” immune from such critical review?

    And, no, progress has yet to show on this. Holder’s speech this week was barely even a first step in what realistically needs done. In fact, in terms of everything but some re-fashioned rhetoric, at least one of Nixon’s wars continue unabated to this day. That’s a cheesy proposition for the Republicans, but an absolute disgrace for the Democrats.

  2. Liberal hatred of Nixon for other (good) reasons, has led to much fiction about his policies, including in the drug area. Nixon spent 2/3 of his drug policy budget on treatment and cut very tough penalties for marijuana that he inherited. His drug czar was a physician. And he never declared a war on drugs. He also expanded food stamps, affirmative action, worked with Congress to establish the EPA and proposed a national health insurance plan that was more generous than anything that has come after. When he left office, social spending was a far larger portion of the budget than it was under LBJ.

    Almost anyone who went to Woodstock will deny all that…but it’s what happened.

    1. Ayup. People just stared at me when I said (in the ’90s) that I disliked Clinton because he was significantly to the right of Nixon.

      Similarly, they think Carter (no relation) was some hardcore leftist, but he Volkerized the country, and arguably started the whole neoliberal dereg fetish (ok ok beer, trucks maybe airlines were a good idea).

    2. A few more cites I was looking for.

      Admittedly, Nixon didn’t start with the war rhetoric for non-military problems. Johnson did with the ‘war on poverty’ but Nixon sure started something that was all but a formal declaration of war, especially when he said things like this:

      ”I am glad that in this administration we have increased the amount of money for handling the problem of dangerous drugs seven-fold; it will be $600 million dollars this year. More money will be needed in the future. I want to say, however, that despite our budget problems, to the extent that money can help in meeting the problems of dangerous drugs, it will be available. This is one area where we cannot have budget cuts. Because we must wage what I have called total war against Public Enemy Number One in the United States – the problem of dangerous drugs.’”
      June 17, 1971 – Nixon declares War on Drugs and calls drugs “Public Enemy Number One” at a press conference

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