5. Lennon’s fight against deportation was the beginning of legalizing marijuana.
In 1972, President Nixon was running for reelection, and he had a problem: John Lennon.
John and Yoko had been living in New York for a year and often showed up at antiwar rallies to sing “Give Peace a Chance” — and to tell their fans that the best way to give peace a chance was to vote against Nixon.
The Nixon White House responded by ordering Lennon deported.
Why? Because he had plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cannabis possession in London in 1968, and US immigration law at the time banned the admission of anyone convicted of any drug offense.
Leading writers and artists joined a letter-writing campaign to let Lennon stay, among them John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Joseph Heller, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Leonard Bernstein, and John Cage, all of whom protested to the INS that Lennon was a cultural asset in the United States.
One way Lennon fought the deportation order was by going on the late-night “Tom Snyder Show” and telling his side. As Lennon’s attorney described John’s misdemeanor charge involving traces of cannabis resin, the government’s response to the “danger” of marijuana began to seem ludicrous. Clearly the law concerning illegal drugs was too far-reaching and unrealistic.
Today, with retail marijuana being sold in Colorado and half-a dozen other states considering allowing it as well, it’s worth remembering the high-profile case of John Lennon, how he fought it, and the order was rescinded — after Nixon resigned from office.