The War on Drugs started with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the same year President Richard Nixon had his infamous meeting with Elvis Presley, who'd written Nixon a six-page letter asking that he be made a "Federal Agent at Large… to help the country out."
"I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am in the middle of the whole thing where I can and will do the most good," Presley added in the handwritten note, scribbled on American Airlines stationary. "The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, the Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it the establishment…"
Presley flew to Washington, DC with two associates intent on meeting the president. He wrote the letter on the plane. "I am staying at the Washington Hotel, Room 505 - 506 - 507," the singer explained. "I am registered under the name Jon Burroughs. I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a Federal Agent."
Presley showed up at the White House unannounced on Dec. 21, 1970. It was quickly arranged for him to meet with Nixon at 12:30 pm. In a a memo to the President, he was informed that "Elvis offered to help as much as possible with the growing drug problem."
During the meeting in the Oval Office, Presley gave Nixon a Colt 45 pistol and showed off police badges he had from several states.
In a memo recounting the meeting, presidential aide Bud Krogh wrote that Presley "mentioned that he… was accepted by the hippies. He said he could go right into a group of young people or hippies and be accepted which he felt could be helpful to (Nixon) in his drug drive."
Photos were taken but Presley never did get the coveted federal appointment. He did, however, receive a thank-you note from Nixon.
The whole episode is chronicled in Liza Johnson's 2016 film, Elvis & Nixon. Michael Shannon portrays Presley. Kevin Spacey is Nixon.
Elvis on Pot
Presley was anything but a hippie. He frowned on recreational drug use and instead took all kinds of legal pharmaceuticals, which ultimately killed him in 1977.
Cassandra Peterson, who's known as the actress Elvira, met him when she was a showgirl in Las Vegas. "He was so anti-drug when I met him," she recounted in 1997. "I mentioned to him that I smoked marijuana, and he was just appalled. He said, 'Don't ever do that again.'"
However, one of Presley's girlfriends Linda Thompson wrote in her 2016 book, A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner and Songs in Between, that Presley did smoke pot. She says his doctor recommended he use it for his glaucoma. One night he asked her to join him.
"It's just relaxing. It will just relax you," Thompson alleges he said.
On that evening in 1974, the King and his Queen for the night were pleasantly stoned.
This article was originally posted on June 17, 2013. It was update on January 8, 2020.