One Year: 1977

Season 1: Episode 2

Mr. Marijuana and the Drug Czar

Keith Stroup and Peter Bourne were on the verge of changing America’s pot laws—and then a blowout Christmas party in 1977 changed everything.


Episode Notes

America’s top weed evangelist and the nation’s drug czar shared the same goal: to loosen up the country’s marijuana laws. In 1977, everything was trending their way—until a blowout Christmas party destroyed their plans, and transformed the future of marijuana in the United States.

One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Mixing by Merritt Jacob.

Sources for This Episode


Anderson, Patrick. High in America: The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana, The Viking Press, 1981.

Dufton, Emily. Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America, Basic Books, 2017.

Manatt, Marsha. Parents, Peers, and Pot, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979.

Massing, Michael. The Fix, University of California Press, 2000.


Anderson, Patrick. “The Pot Lobby,” New York Times Magazine, Jan. 21, 1973.

Auerbach, Stuart. “There’s More to Carter’s ‘Closest Friend’ Than ‘Flaky Accent,’ ” Washington Post, June 21, 1976.

Barbash, Fred. “The Quaalude Affair,” Washington Post, July 21, 1978.

“Bourne vs. Stroup, Part II,” New Times, Aug. 21, 1978.

Brewster, Dan and Al Brewer. “NORML Head Keith Stroup Beats Administration Threat Effort,” New Times, Aug. 7, 1978.

Browning, Frank. “The Story Behind the White House Dope Policy,” High Times, April 1, 1980.

Colen, B. D. “Bourne’s Prescription Compounds Political, Ethical Issues,” Washington Post, July 21, 1978.

Dufton, Emily. “The War on Drugs: The Parent Movement and Zero Tolerance,” the Atlantic, March 29, 2012.

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Just Say ‘Wait a Minute,’ ” New York Review of Books, Dec. 17, 1998.

Graham, David A. “Are Pot Reformers Too Optimistic? The View From 1977,” the Atlantic, April 14, 2014.

Hendrickson, Paul. “The Mellowing of ‘Mister Marijuana,’ ” Washington Post, April 10, 1978.

Jackson, Brooks. “Marijuana Lobby Meets With Little Success in Capitol,” Associated Press, Oct. 13, 1971.

Kornbluth, Jesse. “Poisonous Fallout From the War on Marijuana,” New York Times Magazine, Nov. 19, 1978.

Lewis, Nancy and Joseph Albright. “Behind the Bourne Case,” Miami News, July 25, 1978.

Lomax, Lucius. “DeKalb Drug Fighter Urges Parents to Search Their Children’s Bedrooms,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 28, 1978.

Marijuana: The Law vs. 12 Million People,” Life, Oct. 31, 1969.

Meyer, Lawrence and Alfred E. Lewis. “Carter Aide Signed Fake Quaalude Prescription,” Washington Post, July 19, 1978.

Reinhold, Robert. “Smoking of Marijuana Wins Wider Acceptance,” New York Times, May 23, 1977.

Schorr, Daniel. “Grass Trips Top Doc,” Philadelphia Daily News, July 21, 1978.

Shaffer, Ronald. “Carter Aide Bourne Resigns Over False Prescription: The Cocaine Incident,” Washington Post, July 21, 1978.

Smith, Terence. “Carter Orders White House Staff To Follow Drug Laws or Resign,” New York Times, July 25, 1978.

Stanford, Phil. “Snowbound in the White House,” Inquiry, Nov. 12, 1979.

Sterling, Eric. “Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs, Issued 40 Years Ago Today, Was Ahead of its Time,” HuffPost, March 21, 2013.

Stroup, Keith. “A Founder Looks at 50: NORML and the Carter Administration,”, July 10, 2020.

Thompson, Matt. “The Mysterious History of ‘Marijuana,’ ” NPR’s Code Switch, July 22, 2013.

Walsh, Edward. “Carter Endorses Decriminalization of Marijuana,” Washington Post, Aug. 3, 1977.

Wooten, James T. “Carter Seeks To End Marijuana Penalty for Small Amounts,” New York Times, Aug. 3, 1977.

Wooten, James T. “Statements by Bourne Open Flood of Queries On Capital Drug Use,” New York Times, July 22, 1978.

Wooten, James T. “The Well-Planned Enigma of Jimmy Carter,” New York Times, June 6, 1976.


Drug Wars, Part 1,” PBS Frontline, Oct. 9, 2000.

Archival Material and Government Reports

Carter, Jimmy. “Drug Abuse Message to the Congress,” the American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara, Aug. 2, 1977.

Marijuana: A Study of State Policies & Penalties,” National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, United States Department of Justice, November 1977.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (U.S.) Records, ca. 1970-2008 MS757, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Academic Articles and Reports

Clark, Claire D. and Emily Dufton. “Peter Bourne’s Drug Policy and the Perils of a Public Health Ethic, 1976-1978,” American Journal of Public Health 105, no. 2 (February 2015), 283-292.

Landrigan, Philip J., et al. “Paraquat and Marijuana: Epidemiologic Risk Assessment,” American Journal of Public Health 73, no. 7, (July 1983), 784-788.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The first season of One Year focuses on 1977, a year when gay rights hung in the balance, Roots dominated the airwaves, and Jesus appeared on a tortilla.

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