Richard Nixon was in the White House, his “war on drugs” was in full swing, yet Big Tobacco was secretly exploring the possibility of becoming Big Pot.
Newly discovered documents from tobacco company archives at UC San Francisco show that major companies in the cigarette industry investigated joining the marijuana business in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The companies were driven then by the same shift in public attitudes that is now pushing legalization around the country.
One company even asked a federal counter-narcotics official to secretly secure marijuana from the government for research.
“We request that there be no publicity whatsoever,” a Philip Morris vice president wrote in late 1969 to Milton Joffee, drug sciences chief at the Justice Department’s narcotics bureau. “We will provide the results to you on a confidential basis, and request that you not identify in the form of any public announcement where the work has been done.”
Joffee responded that Philip Morris could skip Food and Drug Administration review of its application for government pot. “I do not feel there is any bar to maintaining the confidentiality you request,” he wrote.
The documents, discovered by public health researchers, were disclosed Tuesday in the Milbank Quarterly, a health policy journal. They not only shed new light on the Nixon era, but appear when some Wall Street analysts and health advocates say tobacco companies may again be considering the expanding market for legalized weed…
It’s amazing what goes on behind the closed doors.