Gore Vidal’s Visionary Case For Marijuana Legalization 40 Years Ago

Visionary author, playwright and political activist Gore Vidal passed away yesterday. Millions around the world are remembering his life’s work. If you don’t know much about him, you can learn a lot just by reading the obituaries and commentaries that are emerging in the wake of his death.

Apparently, though, there’s one political issue that Vidal wrote about that has been overlooked: his opposition to the insane war on drugs. This morning, I just came across what Gore Vidal had to say about the need to legalize marijuana and the ineffectiveness of drug prohibition. This really drives home the point that he was way ahead of his time.

Here are a few excerpts from a column he wrote 42 years ago in the New York Times – just one year prior to President Nixon’s launch of the war on drugs.

New York Times

Drugs: Case for Legalizing Marijuana


In the Long Run It Would Save Lives And End Hypocrisy

September 26, 1970

It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost. Label each drug with a precise description of what effect–good and bad–the drug will have on whoever takes it. This will require heroic honesty. Don’t say that marijuana is addictive or dangerous when it is neither, as millions of people know–unlike “speed,” which kills most unpleasantly, or heroin, which is addictive and difficult to kick.

For the record, I have tried–once–almost every drug and liked none, disproving the popular Fu Manchu theory that a single whiff of opium will enslave the mind. Nevertheless many drugs are bad for certain people to take and they should be told about them in a sensible way …

It is a lucky thing for the American moralist that our country has always existed in a kind of time-vacuum: we have no public memory of anything that happened before last Tuesday. No one in Washington today recalls what happened during the years alcohol was forbidden to the people by a Congress that thought it had a divine mission to stamp out Demon Rum and so launched the greatest crime wave in the country’s history, caused thousands of deaths from bad alcohol, and created a general (and persisting) contempt for the laws of the United States.

The same thing is happening today. But the government has learned nothing from past attempts at prohibition, not to mention repression.

– Read the entire article at The Huffington Post.



  1. Paul Pot on

    Gore Vidal co-wrote the “Palermo connection” starring James Belushi as a New York politician standing for Mayor who believes in legalizing drugs.
    During the campaign he returns to his family home of Palermo to be confronted by the mafia don and tells him what the drug war is really all about and why he can not be allowed to end this very profitable industry. He sticks to his principles and dies for it. Worth watching if you can find it.

  2. gutrod on

    Too bad politician’s weren’t open minded like Mr. Gore Vidal. His vision is correct while our governments have yet to open their eyes & ears.

  3. Worm on

    The same arguments for 40 years and the people still don’t believe. R.I.P.