In the fall of 1972 Steve Kafoury, a thirty-one-year-old Portland teacher and social worker, was running for the Oregon state legislature. Several times, as he went door to door in search of votes, the same odd scene occurred. As soon as he knocked on the door, he would hear people rustling around inside. Someone would peek out a window. Finally a young person would open the door and Kafoury would smell the distinctive odor of marijuana within.
Kafoury had smoked and soon he was promising the young people, whenever this happened, "If I get elected, I'll do something about this. You won't have to be paranoid anymore!"
He was elected, and he did do something. In less than a year, in large part because of Kafoury's leadership, Oregon became the first state to end criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuanato enact, in other words, the decriminalization policy the Marijuana Commission had recommended a year before.
Stephen Kafoury was born in 1941 in Portland, where his father manufactured women's clothing. The family was Democratic, and politics was often the focus of dinner-table conversation; Kafoury can remember being heartbroken when Stevenson lost to Eisenhower in 1952, when he was eleven. He went to Whitman College, in Walla Walla, majored in history, graduated in 1963, and joined the Peace Corps, which sent him to Iran for two years. Returning home, he earned a master's degree in education from Reed College and then went to work in Portland's black community, where he founded an alternative school and worked to help low-income black youths get into college. After a few years of this he began to see the importance of political action, and he ran for the state legislature.
Elected, Kafoury was appointed to a special committee on alcohol and drugs, whose chairman said he was interested in lowering the drinking age to eighteen and doing something about marijuana-law reform. Kafoury, as he studied the political situation, found a good deal of support for reform. The influential Portland City Club had called for reform, as had the state's ACLU and Democratic party. Pat Horton, the thirty-year-old Lane County district attorney, had quit prosecuting possession cases, and Republican governor Tom McCall had testified for reform before the Marijuana Commission. Even more important, Kafoury found a widespread sentiment within the state legislature that it was time for reform. There was opposition, and there was confusion as to what the reform should be, but he began to think some kind of a bill could pass.
As he planned his legislative strategy, Kafoury made two crucial decisions. The first was to push for the most liberal bill possible. The second was to enlist the support of a sixty-one-year-old Republican hog farmer named Stafford Hansell, who he hoped could sway the votes of other conservative legislators.
Kafoury's bill proposed to remove all criminal penalties for the private use or possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana or for the cultivation of up to two plants. It was a liberal bill, and when it came to the floor of the state legislature in mid-June, it sparked heated debate. The day's emotional highlight was the speech by Stafford Hansell, the bill's floor manager. He was playing to a packed gallery, and he made the most of his opportunity.
"Mr. Speaker, members of the assembly," he began, "since it became known that I was to carry HB 2003, the marijuana decriminalization bill, I've received letters, telephone calls, and looks of disbelief from my fellow legislators, all indicating that Hansell has finally flipped completely, with the old Devil winning out. In response to those who do not know me well, I want to prove to you that there are no telltale needle marks on my arms." He paused to pull up his sleeves. "I am not a dope addict. I haven't smoked a cigarette for twenty-five years, nor had a drink of intoxicating beverage, inclusive of whiskey, wine, or beer, for twenty-four years. In other words, there is no element of conflict of interest as I speak in support of HB 2003. Neither was I captivated by the eloquence of Representative Kafoury. I am speaking because I wish to, because I believe the issue should be faced by each and every legislative body in the United States."
Slowly, Hansell held up his exhibits for the legislators and the gallery to see: a cup of coffee, a bottle of aspirin, sleeping pills, amphetamines, a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of beer, a bottle of wine, a bottle of whiskey, and finally a marijuana cigarette. He spoke at length on the health hazards of each item and the penalties for their use. Then he concluded, "Having explored all the basic components of the marijuana situation, I am convinced we could and should take steps to decriminalize its use. Prohibition was not the answer to our alcohol problem in 1919, nor is it the answer to the marijuana problem in 1973."
He sat down amid an ovation that was richly deserved. The fact that Stafford Hansell was a hog farmer had tended to detract from the more basic fact about him: At a time when the great leaders of his political party, the Nixons and Rockefellers and Reagans, were content to play politics with the marijuana issue, Stafford Hansell was that rarest of creatures in the political jungle: an honest man.
His impassioned plea was not, however, persuasive to his colleagues in the Oregon legislature. When his bill came to a vote, after more oratory on both sides, it was soundly defeated.
The reformers were shattered. And yet, a day or two later, Steve Kafoury began to sense that all was not lost. Hansell's speech had received a vast amount of publicity, and there seemed to be a sense, both in the legislature and the state as a whole, that an opportunity had been lost. Quickly, Kafoury introduced a new, more moderate bill, one that did not allow cultivation and that classified possession of up to an ounce as a noncriminal violation, punishable by a fine of up to $100. This bill passed easily a few days later.
NORML had played no role in the passage of the Oregon bill. Stroup knew a bill had been introduced there, but NORML had been focusing its attentions on a number of other states where reform bills seemed more likely to pass, mainly by sending in Stroup, Dr. Whipple, John Finlator, or other pro-reform witnesses. When Stroup heard that a bill was about to pass in Oregon, his first thought was, My God, the states are starting to move without us! He hurried to Oregon, met Kafoury, and was with him on the night the decriminalization bill passed. To Stroup's amazement, Kafoury was disconsolate. Marijuana was still illegal, he said, and there was a $100 fine.
"My God, man," Stroup said, "this is the first state to stop locking people up, this is the biggest thing that ever happened to marijuana reform."
Slowly, Kafoury began to think that he'd won a victory after all.
In the aftermath of the Oregon victory it seemed possible that several other states would pass decriminalization bills before the year was out. Stroup's instinct was to jump on the bandwagon and to try, if possible, to seize its reins. NORML redoubled its efforts in the various states that were considering bills, sending in witnesses, trying to convince legislators that the Marijuana Commission had provided the blueprint, Oregon had led the way, and the time had come for every state to act.
The breakthrough didn't come. In the Massachusetts senate, just a few weeks after the Oregon bill passed, a similar bill was defeated by a twenty-six-to-thirteen vote. Another bill was defeated in a floor vote in Maine, and bills in Maryland, Rhode Island, Montana, Hawaii, and Connecticut all died in committee. The Oregon success was not as easily transportable as Stroup had hoped, but he rationalized that 1974 would be the breakthrough year.
There was even a problem back in Texas. Stroup had gone there several times in the spring of 1973 as hearings were held on a reform bill. He arranged for testimony by John Finlator and also by Richard Cowan, the young Texas conservative who'd written the National Review article. He put together a group called Concerned Parents for Marijuana Reform, made up of people whose children were imprisoned, and its officers testified. The new law, which passed on May 29, reduced possession of marijuana from a felony to a low misdemeanor, which carried up to six months imprisonment for possession of up to two ounces, up to a year's imprisonment for possession of up to four ounces, and continued felony penalties for larger amounts. Sale of marijuana was reduced to a two-to-ten-year offense, and the law provided for persons imprisoned to apply for re-sentencing under the new, lower penalties. It was hoped that this retroactive provision would soon free most of the seven hundred marijuana prisoners in the Texas prison, but that proved not to be so simple. Gov. Dolph Briscoe declared that the re-sentencing provision infringed on his exclusive right of pardon and parole. Frank Demolli, whose twenty-five-year sentence could have been reduced to ten years under the new law, filed suit against the governor. NORML entered the case as amicus curiae, in a legal effort headed by Gerald Goldstein, a young San Antonio lawyer who had been working with NORML on Texas drug cases.
Frank Demolli was then in his third year of confinement. He was twenty-one and was no longer the innocent lad who thought marijuana was a giggle. He'd spent a year in the county jail in Austin, while his case was on appeal. A lot of other inmates were dopers and bikers. He watched some bikers kick one kid half to death for smearing their colors, which they'd painted on the cell wall. Another time, a kid came in with ten hits of LSD sewn in his pants. It was the purest acid Demolli had ever used; he had a great trip, a day's escape. Once, he watched as a big guy started to beat and rape an obnoxious inmate; when Demolli and the others realized what was happening, they pulled him off. Demolli was learning to live with violence, to accept fear as a way of life.
Eventually, when he was sent to the Ferguson unit of the state prison, he started taking college courses. He noticed a NORML ad in Playboy one day and wrote a letter. It was a few weeks later that Stroup and the others visited the prison. Demolli was shaken when he saw Stroup's long hair. It reminded him of his trial, when he'd refused to cut his own long hair, so that the jury would be impressed with his sincerity, and he wanted to warn Stroup to watch out, that it was dangerous to wear your hair long in Texas. Demolli and the other prisoners were upset, too, by the sight of Jurate Kazickas, the tall, blond reporter. Demolli had seen only one or two women in his eighteen months behind bars, and had touched none, and to be that close to such a beautiful woman made him want to cry.
But the biggest thing Demolli got out of Stroup's visit was an appreciation of the power of the media. The warden and his assistants were like gods in the prison world, and yet they were clearly worried about the possibility of bad publicity; they feared these reporters who, thanks to recent court rulings, could enter their prisons and ask questions and talk to inmates. Demolli began to see that perhaps he could help himself if he could learn to use the media and if he could win the help of friendly politicians like Ron Waters, who had seemed so shaken by what he saw in the prison. So Demolli, who was already editor of the prison newspaper, became a letter writer. He wrote hundreds of letters to newspapers and to legislators, urging support of the marijuana-law-reform bill.
The bill passed, but the governor refused to enact the re-sentencing provision, and eventually Demolli's lawsuit against the governor was rejected by the Texas court of criminal appeals. It was a cruel blow, but Demolli kept on writing letters. The issue was no longer legal; it was political. Liberal legislators, and some Texas newspapers, were putting pressure on Governor Briscoe to parole the marijuana prisoners. In time Briscoe did parole some, in a program called Project Star, but he refused to parole "pushers" like Demolli. By then several legislators had taken an interest in this case, including Ron Waters, Ronnie Earle, and a woman named Sarah Weddington. Eventually Ronnie Earle went to Briscoe and urged him to parole Demolli. He pointed out that Demolli was causing a stink, that he'd keep on stirring up publicity as long as he was behind bars. The governor said that if Demolli was causing him trouble in prison, he'd only cause him more if he got out. Earle said no, that Demolli had parents in Colorado, and he'd go there if released. Briscoe said he would parole the boy if he would get out of Texas. Demolli was more than happy to agree to that condition. He was freed, and he hastened to Colorado, where he took a job as a copy editor with a newspaper and enrolled in college. He had spent four years in prison.
There were some important additions to NORML's staff in 1973 and 1974.
First, Larry Schott joined the staff full time as Stroup's deputy. Schott ran the office when Stroup was traveling, edited The Leaflet, and in time headed up NORML'S Center for the Study of Non-Medical Drug Use.
Another important addition came when a tall, intense, chain-smoking young legal scholar named Peter Meyers marched into NORML'S office in the summer of 1973 and announced that he wanted to bring a right-of-privacy suit to test the constitutionality of the federal marijuana law. Stroup and Schott were skeptical. They'd seen other young lawyers rush in and say the same thing, then disappear after a week or two. Still, Meyers had impressive credentials. As a law student at George Washington University he'd studied under John Banzahf, who assigned his students to undertake Nader-type suits against federal agencies, and he'd been involved in several important cases. Stroup decided to give Meyers a try.
That summer the Supreme Court had made its historic ruling on abortion. It said, among other things, that in the first three months of pregnancy the mother's interests are paramount and that her right of privacy included a right to abortion. To Peter Meyers it seemed clear that if the right of privacy covered abortion, an act that millions of people viewed as murder, it must also cover the right to smoke marijuana in one's home.
By October, Meyers had filed NORML v. U.S., in which he, working in collaboration with Ramsey Clark, set out to establish that the federal marijuana law was in violation of the right of privacy, and thus unconstitutional.
It was a tricky question. The right of privacythe idea that one's home is a sovereign domainhas never been absolute. The state can break down a man's door if he is, say, murdering his wife or manufacturing bombs in his basement. The question was whether marijuana was such a serious offense that it justified governmental intrusion into private conduct. It was the sort of question that courts traditionally prefer to leave to the legislatures, and in this particular case, the courts moved very slowly. Not until 1980 would NORML get a ruling on its test case.
In the meantime, Meyers had made himself invaluable as he headed Up NORML'S expanding program to challenge the marijuana laws in federal and state courts. Calls and letters poured into NORML every day from people who were in jail, or seemed headed there, on drug charges. NORML referred as many as possible to its growing national network of lawyers who defended drug cases for reduced fees, or even pro bono. Meyers himself could become involved in only a few of the cases that came to his attention, and Stroup urged him, in choosing those cases, to look for ones that were particularly unusual or outrageous and would thus attract media attention and public support.
One example was the case of Roger Davis, a black political activist who was convicted in Wytheville, Virginia, in 1974, of selling nine ounces of marijuana. He was sentenced to forty years in prison. Both NORML and the ACLU joined in his appeal, providing lawyers to assist and advise Davis's own lawyers, and after Davis had served three years in prison, a federal judge freed him on the grounds that the forty-year sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and was thus unconstitutional. Such a case, in addition to helping an individual defendant, was useful to NORML politically. Very few marijuana defendants were sentenced to forty years, but Stroup's horror stories, as he called such cases, served to remind millions of people that such sentences were still very possible.
Another well-publicized case concerned the Piedras Negras jail break, in which a Texan whose son was imprisoned in a Mexican border town on a drug charge hired three other men to get him out. Armed with shotguns, the men crossed the border, raided the jail, freed the son and thirteen other Americans, and escaped back to Texas. There was no U.S. law against raiding a Mexican jail, but U.S. prosecutors, under pressure from angry Mexican officials, charged the raiders with conspiring to export weapons (their shotguns) without a license. NORML entered the case at the urging of Gerald Goldstein, the San Antonio lawyer who was becoming one of NORML's most active volunteers. For NORML, the jail break case was an opportunity to publicize both the inhumane conditions in Mexican jails and the way U.S. officials catered to the Mexican government. NORML often tried to publicize the stories of young Americans who were arrested on drug charges in Mexico and other foreign countries. Sometimes the people had in fact possessed drugs, sometimes they were framed, but in either case they were often tortured, deprived of all legal rights, and in effect kidnapped, since the surest way out of a Mexican jail is to bribe corrupt officials. U.S. officials, for their part, rarely showed concern for Americans who were in Mexican jails on drug charges. To NORML, and to others in the drug culture, the Piedras Negras raiders were not criminals but heroes, and their story ended happily when Goldstein won a reversal of their convictions.
Meyers directed NORML'S major legal challenges to the government, including the 1978 suit to stop the paraquat spraying in Mexico and the suit to permit the medical use of marijuana, and he also brought a series of lesser-known suits against federal agencies. One caused the U.S. Parole Commission to modify its parole regulations so that marijuana offenses were classified among the least serious category of offenses. He also filed a series of suits under the Freedom of Information Act, including one to force the CIA to reveal details of LSD tests it had conducted on unsuspecting subjects and another to force the Army to release details of some tests that showed that you could be just as good a soldier if you smoked as if you didn't.
Drug law was a new area, and Meyers worked to make NORML a clearinghouse for the latest information that could be of use to local defense lawyers. Sometimes NORML would formally enter a local case; more often, Meyers would give advice from the background. In other cases NORML would not be called in until a smoker, represented by a lawyer inexperienced in drug law, had been given a long jail sentence; then NORML'S volunteer lawyers would help with the appeal. The suits were many and varied. Indiana's NORML chapter overturned a state law that made it a crime to possess smoking paraphernalia. In South Carolina a lawsuit forced the Citadel, a military college, to recognize a NORML chapter. In California, NORML joined in a suit that established that marijuana use was not a crime of "moral turpitude" for which a public-school teacher could be fired. In all this NORML was keeping pressure on the government, winning publicity, demonstrating that smokers had legal rights, and making itself the rallying point for a national effort by lawyers, many of whom were themselves smokers, to challenge the laws that defined smokers as criminals.
Another important staff addition at NORML came in the spring of 1974, when the long feud between NORML and Amorphia was at last resolved. The defeat of CMI had left Amorphia dispirited and all but bankrupt. Blair Newman left in the spring of 1973, and Gordon Brownell, Amorphia's political director, Mark Heutlinger, its business manager, and Mike Aldrich, its writer-philosopher, struggled to keep their reform lobby alive. In time they began to consider a merger with NORML. The feud, they decided, had been between Stroup and Newman; the others got along with Stroup well enough. Discussions were held, and the merger took place. Brownell stayed in San Francisco as NORML'S West Coast coordinator. Heutlinger, a West Orange, New Jersey, lawyer's son who had a master's degree in business from George Washington University, came to Washington to be NORML'S business manager. But Stroup could find no place for Mike Aldrich in his plans, and when Amorphia closed its doors, as LeMar had before it, Dr. Dope was abruptly an unemployed marijuana scholar, forced to collect unemployment insurance until he got back on his feet.
By the spring of 1974 it was clear that other states, rather than rushing to follow Oregon's example, were taking a wait-and-see attitude, and decriminalization bills were bogged down in a dozen states.
During this period of uncertainty the anti-marijuana forces launched a major counteroffensive. The leader of the counteroffensive was Sen. James Eastland, of Mississippi, already distinguished as a racist, a reactionary, and one of the world's leading anti-communists, but not as an expert on drugs.
Marijuana is often viewed simply as a health issue, but with the entry of Eastland into the debate, its essentially political nature becomes more clear. It was no coincidence that Ramsey Clark was the first important politician to encourage NORML, or that Eastland was the first important politician to oppose the fast-spreading reform movement. Both men were symbolic figures: Clark a champion of American liberalism and Eastland of American conservatism. For a time, when Clark was attorney general and Eastland was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, they were poised in classic, public confrontation. They disagreed on voting rights, on legal aid for the poor, on capital punishment, on Vietnamon almost everythingand it was therefore no surprise that their disagreement should extend to marijuana. Underlying the questions of whether people should use the drug or whether marijuana is a health hazard is the more basic issue of personal freedom versus governmental power. Eastland liked the marijuana laws for the same reason he had liked the Jim Crow laws: because they were a convenient way to put people in jail. Eastland represented political forces that were concerned with preserving the status quo and that rightly perceived marijuana as yet another threat to their authority. His hearings came at a time when Richard Nixon was about to be driven from office, when the war in Vietnam was about to be written off as a failure, and when gay rights and the women's movement and many other liberal causes were gathering momentum. Thanks to the Marijuana Commission and the Oregon legislature, the ban on drugs seemed to be crumbling. To Eastland, it must have seemed that the Bolsheviks were at the gates, and that his anti-marijuana hearings were the last opportunity to turn back the tide. Politically, the drug issue provided a way for Eastland to rally many people who did not share his views on economics and on race. If in the 1930s marijuana could be painted as a drug that turned black men into rapists, then marijuana laws could be passed and used to lock up black troublemakers. If in the 1970s marijuana could be portrayed as a serious health hazard, then that fact could be used to discredit all the liberals who smoked or defended the drug. It was with these larger political concerns in mind that Eastland opened hearings that were nothing less than an attempt to discredit the Marijuana Commission and to reverse the trend toward marijuana-law reform.
The forum for Eastland's anti-marijuana offensive was the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security of which he was chairman. Since his subcommittee had no jurisdiction over the drug issue, it was necessary for Eastland to argue that marijuana had become a threat to national security. The hearings were therefore called "Marijuana-Hashish Epidemic and Its Impact on United States Security," and Eastland argued first that marijuana was creating a generation of "semi-zombies" who would not or could not defend their country and second that "subversive forces" were behind this epidemic. The only subversive force he named was Dr. Timothy Leary.
Eastland's hearings opened on May 9 and continued for five more days. He called only anti-marijuana witnesses, mostly scientists and Pentagon officials, and he refused to let pro-marijuana scientists or other reform spokesmen testify. He made no pretense of objectivity, declaring at the outset, "We make no apology, therefore, for the one-sided nature of our hearingsthey were deliberately planned this way."
It was Eastland's thesis that pro-marijuana scientists and their allies in the media had in recent years fostered a "myth of harmlessness" about marijuana. Moreover, he said that a "pro-marijuana cabal" had launched a program of "character assassination" against scientists who warned of the weed's dangers. Eastland did not attack the Marijuana Commission directly, but he and various witnesses stressed that important "new evidence" had made the dangers of marijuana more clear than they had been three years earlier, when the Marijuana Commission conducted its investigation.
A central charge, made by various witnesses, was that marijuana caused an "amotivational syndrome," one that led young people to become passive, to ignore their studies, to dislike work, and generally to drop out of society. Warned Eastland: "If this epidemic is not rolled back, our society may be largely taken over by a 'marijuana culture'a culture motivated by a desire to escape from reality and a consuming lust for self-gratification, and lacking any moral guidance. Such a society could not long endure." Interestingly, the "amotivational syndrome" was the opposite of a major claim made by antimarijuana spokesmen of the 1930s: that smoking made people violent.
Going beyond the amotivational syndrome, various witnesses at the hearings blamed marijuana for causing insanity, psychosis, homosexuality, promiscuity, impotence, deformed children, and violent crimes, including the "fragging" (murder by hand grenade) of U.S. Army officers by enlisted men in Vietnam. One scientist said moderate marijuana use caused chromosome damage similar to that suffered by survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. However, upon examination, most of this "new evidence" tended to be very tentativethis was "suspected"; that was "indicated"and all parties called for more research grants.
One witness, a psychiatrist from the Tulane University medical school, had conducted experiments on monkeys. He pumped marijuana smoke into the lungs of ten monkeys and implanted electrodes in their brains to measure the results. Two of the monkeys died (of respiratory complications, he explained), and the other eight suffered changes in brain-wave patterns. His testimony resulted in national headlines along the order of "Marijuana Smoking Causes Brain Damage." A later witness at the hearings, a Nobel Prize winner, pointed out that the monkeys had been given dosages that were the equivalent of a human being's smoking one hundred strong marijuana cigarettes a day. But that sort of rebuttal didn't make headlines.
From a political point of view the Eastland hearings were extremely effective. Their purpose was to discredit the Marijuana Commission, and to a very great degree they succeeded, by publicizing the "new evidence" theory that could be used to sidestep the commission's findings. The underlying political reality was that the Marijuana Commission was a paper tiger politically, because millions of people wanted to disbelieve its findings and because it had no continuing institutional role. The scientists, both in and out of government, who set the tone for national drug policy did not look to the Marijuana Commission for their budgets and research grants; they looked to Congress, and Congress reflected the mood of a nation still opposed to marijuana. Eastland, by stacking his hearings with anti-marijuana witnesses, was able to flood the country with anti-marijuana propaganda at a crucial time in the struggle for reform. His hearings had no legislative intent. They were purely a publicity barragepart of the battle for the hearts and minds of the American peopleand as such they succeeded brilliantly.
Some two years after the Eastland hearings, Dr. Norman Zinberg wrote an article for Psychology Today in which he examined the fine print in some of the "new evidence." He noted that the Tulane "brain damage" report had been based upon a dosage level equivalent to about a hundred joints a day. He noted also that a 1975 study that supposedly supported the "amotivational syndrome" theory was based on volunteers who received THC, the intoxicating agent in marijuana, equal to fifty to one hundred joints a day. He pointed out that one well-publicized study, used to suggest chromosome damage to smokers, was based on the examination of only three people. He said another study, used as evidence that marijuana caused brain damage, was based on the experience of ten subjects who had used LSD, heroin, barbiturates, and alcohol as well as marijuana. Of a study charging that marijuana caused psychosis, he wrote, "They cited the case of a 17-year-old boy seduced by a homosexual who also gave him marijuana; the youth became psychotic. But the insistence of these researchers that it was clearly the marijuana that was responsible for the psychosis hardly convinced other psychiatrists."
Time after time, upon examination, the new evidence against marijuana fell apart. Yet each new study received coast-to-coast headlines and reinforced the reefer-madness mythology. Reporters seemed to put aside their professional skepticism when dealing with people with "Dr." before their names, seemed never to suspect that some of them might be incompetent or publicity-seeking or politically motivated. This disinclination was a constant frustration to the reformers, as the new evidence slowly eroded the momentum that the Marijuana Commission had given their cause.
As Stroup traveled to various states in the summer and fall of 1974, he began to encounter a new mood. Previously, the reformers had gone to a state on the offensive, with the Marijuana Commission report as their Bible. Now their opponents had their own Bible: the green-jacketed, printed volume of the Eastland hearings, which had been sent to thousands of legislators and law-enforcement officials across America. (The volume became an underground best-seller among marijuana smokers because of the numerous marijuana recipes for brownies, chili, meat loaf, banana bread, and the likethat were printed in its Appendix.)
Not only did opponents of reform have their answer to the Marijuana Commission report; they now often called Eastland's anti-marijuana scientists to testify at their state legislative hearings. Suddenly the reformers were on the defensive again, forced to rebut medical arguments that they thought meaningless but that laymen found alarming. The Eastland hearings may have been deliberately one-sided, but they carried the imprimatur of the U.S. Senate, and many state legislators took them very seriously.
By the fall of 1974 the reform movement was at a standstill. It was at that point that Stroup, in desperate need of new ammunition, looked for help to his new allies at the Drug Abuse Council.
By then, eighteen months after Stroup had won Tom Bryant's gratitude by briefing him for William Buckley's television show, the NORML-Drug Abuse Council alliance was in high gear. Tom Bryant was on NORML's advisory board, the Drug Abuse Council was giving up to $30,000 a year for NORML'S nonpolitical activities, and Stroup was on close personal terms with several members of the council's staff. After the Eastland hearings Stroup went to his friend Bob Carr, the council's chief writer, and said he needed help. In state after state, reform bills were bogged down, and the Eastland hearings' scare stories were a major factor.
Carr suggested that Bryant might issue a statement. He checked with Bryant, who gave tentative approval to the idea. Carr and Stroup then stayed up all night drafting a tough statement that attacked the various "new evidence" studies. The next morning, somewhat to Stroup's and Carr's surprise, Bryant approved the statement as they'd written it. The UPI story that resulted, in which Dr. Thomas E. Bryant deplored the widespread publicity being given unreliable, misleading scientific data received wider coverage, and had far more credibility, than if Stroup had said the same thing.
Later, the council sponsored a conference at which two dozen leading scientists declared that there had been no significant new scientific findings on marijuana since the Marijuana Commission's report in 1972, another challenge to the "new evidence" argument.
Throughout the fall of 1974, Stroup and Carr searched for ways to challenge the Eastland committee and the wave of anti-marijuana publicity it had created. Stroup was badly worried, because in state after state reform bills were stalled and legislators were saying "Let's wait and see how it works in Oregon."
But how was Oregon's new law working? Smokers thought it was working &e, some law-enforcement officers grumbled about it, and no one really had any solid information on it. One night Stroup and Carr came up with the idea that the council would sponsor a survey of public attitudes toward the new law in Oregon. Carr took the idea back to the council and was given $10,000 for the survey, which was carried out by a Portland public-opinion firm.
The results of the survey, briefly, were that there had been no significant increase in marijuana use in Oregon after the new law, and that most people there approved of the law. That was exactly what Stroup and Carr had hoped the survey would say. Carr issued a press release on it that got national attention, on the order of "New Marijuana Law Works in Oregon." For a mere $10,000, it was the most publicity the Drug Abuse Council had ever received; it also underscored how politically effective surveys and analyses could be.
Politically, the Oregon survey could be used as proof that decriminalization worked. Just what the survey actually proved was debatable, but politicians like studies, surveys, statisticsevidence that makes it easier for them to justify doing what they already want to do. The following spring, Bryant and his staff often testified before state legislative hearings, reporting on the Oregon survey and other data. They could not lobby for decriminalization, of course; they were only non-political experts, providing their statistical data and their policy analysis. In fact, Stroup worked closely with Carr to coordinate the testimony of NORML witnesses and council witnessesto divide it up so that NORML'S people would make the key political points and the council witnesses would stress the scientific points.
The NORML-Drug Abuse Council alliance was politics as usual. If NORML'S scruffy band of dope smokers and Tom Bryant's very respectable think tank were improbable allies, they only proved once again that politics makes strange bedfellows. And effective bedfellows, because their alliance, and particularly the Oregon survey, would contribute to the great political breakthroughs of 1975.
But before that happened, Stroup would become caught up in some extraordinary politics, politics that definitely were not being played as usual. The Nixon administration, in its final years, had been obsessed with an "enemies list" mentality, with finding ways to use the power of government to destroy its critics. One man who was high on Nixon's enemies list was Hugh Hefner, and in 1974 Stroup's friend Bobbie Arnstein would become tragically enmeshed in the Nixon administration's attempt to destroy her boss. She turned to Stroup for help, but there was precious little help that he, or anyone, could give her.