How Did Richard Nixon Smuggle Marijuana For Louis Armstrong? Let’s find out the truth. Nixon snuck three pounds of marijuana into the country for Louis Armstrong, the famed entertainer, in 1958.
According to Roger Stone’s book “Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Unknown Truth About the President, Watergate, and the Pardon,” this is how it supposedly went down:
In the late 1950s, the US State Department named jazz musician Louis Armstrong as a goodwill ambassador. As a result, he travelled Asia and Europe, performing concerts and sampling some of the best ganja on the planet. Louis was reported to appreciate a nice cigarette.
There’s no doubting that former President Richard Nixon was instrumental in launching America’s War on Drugs, but what’s less well known is that he once (unknowingly) smuggled marijuana. The fact is that he did it for famed musician Louis Armstrong, which is even more shocking given that you’d never expect the two to meet, let alone share such an odd relationship.
Richard Nixon’s Marijuana Smuggling for Louis Armstrong
Not only was Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong one of jazz’s most influential personalities, but he was also a big pot smoker, which means he helped popularise the substance in the early 1900s. That’s especially true given his public declaration that it was superior than alcohol and the element that helped him get through life.
Louis, on the other hand, didn’t let his habits get in the way of his hard work, and in the 1950s, the US State Department asked him to visit Asia and Europe as a Goodwill Ambassador on their behalf.
Because of his official government title, Louis was reportedly permitted to get through customs easily, making it easier for him to travel throughout the world with cannabis in his possession. When he returned to New York at the end of the tour in 1958, however, he was routed to the international customs line, only to be saved by then-Vice President Richard Nixon by chance.
Louis was actually concerned because he knew he had roughly 3 kilos of marijuana in his case, so when he saw the politician excitedly approaching him, he embraced the chance encounter wholeheartedly.
Richard Nixon was reportedly a fan of the musician and had intended to have a press photo taken with him, but he ended up waiving his luggage through customs. According to what we know, there are two versions of the brief chat between the two significant figures, but the end result is that the statesman unintentionally became a smuggler.
According to Roger Stone’s book ‘Nixon’s Secrets,’ once Louis said he was in the customs queue, the politician grabbed his bags, stated they didn’t have to go through the entire process, and then simply walked away.
However, some sources claim that Louis was the one who willfully persuaded the then-Vice President to carry his large bags, claiming that he was too old to do so. Due to a lack of distinct sources, this record has received little backing.
With that said, we can be certain that when Richard Nixon learned of the scenario through a grapevine of associates years later, he could only question, “Louis smokes marijuana?” He had no idea what was going on until that point, and he didn’t appear to want to think about it because there was nothing he could do about it.