Imagining Governor Leary…

Been reading Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and its Quest to Spread, Peace, Love, and Acid to the World by my good friend and former colleague Nick Schou. It’s a colorful, endlessly interesting book about a band of hippie drug smugglers from Laguna Beach who in the sixties thought they could make the world a better place by bringing marijuana and LSD to, well, everyone (NOTE: Schou very generously thanks me in the Acknowledgments for some minor research assistance I provided him back when I lived on Maui).

Anyway, acid guru Timothy Leary played a big role in the Brotherhood. I knew that, but what I didn’t know is that in 1969 Leary tried to run for Governor of California (Ronald Reagan had the job at the time). His platform, when compared to the three so-called legitimate candidates we have running now, is nothing less than astonishing:

After learning of his friend’s campaign — Leary had lent his voice to the chorus of the Beatles’ 1967 single “All You Need Is Love” — John Lennon wrote the song “Come Together” as a campaign anthem. Leary’s platform included a statewide ban on football, which he felt was too aggressive — baseball being a much more civilized sport — and a legalization of marijuana cultivation. He proposed that anyone who grew marijuana would a pay a thousand dollars to the state’s coffers. “Then I’ll turn that money over to the police and the forces of the right wing to keep them happyand off people’s backs,” Leary explained. When a reporter asked if that policy discriminated against people too poor to pay such a levy, Leary announced an even wilder plan. “That’s not really a problem,” he responded. “It’s only a short-term solution — in five years, I’ll eliminate all money from Californian society and return to a barter system.”

Yeah, he advocated legalizing marijuana. What a loon.

-Anthony Pignataro


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