Monday, March 26, 2001

The Fix

from The Fix by Michael Massing

Massing, for example, retells the extraordinary story of how the Carter Administration's drug adviser--Peter Bourne--was forced to resign. In December 1977, Bourne decided to attend a party headed by NORML--the pro-marijuana lobby group headed by Keith Stroup.

If nothing else, Keith Stroup knew how to throw a good party, and the event, held in a posh Dupont Circle townhouse, drew several hundred lawyers, congressional
aides, politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists, plus assorted marijuana growers and paraphernalia merchants. Waiters carried silver trays bearing caviar and thick joints rolled from the finest grass. Around ten o'clock, a charge went through the crowd: Peter Bourne had arrived.

Mobbed by well-wishers, he was quickly escorted upstairs to a private room where the inner circle was gathered. Among those present were Hunter Thompson, David Kennedy (Robert's son), and Keith Stroup. A small, bulletlike container of coke was being passed among the people in the room.

Bourne stayed for a short while, then headed back downstairs and left.

When six months later this story emerged--that the White House Drug Czar had been to a party where cocaine was used--Bourne was forced to resign. Bourne maintained, in his own defense, that he didn't use the drug at the party. But that was hardly the issue. What was he doing at a NORML party to begin with? Should it surprise anyone that parents like Keith Schuchard--confronting marijuana use in their children for the first time--would read about this in the paper and conclude that federal drug policy didn't, exactly, reflect their concerns?

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