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National Commission on Marihuana
and Drug Abuse

The Ford Administration
A Life of Service


After his high-profile and productive term as governor, it was expected that Ray Shafer would continue in public service, perhaps at the highest levels. Shafer first hoped to be appointed to the Federal bench, in particular as Judge for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, as news stories from the Spring of 1971 attest. In this, he was disappointed, however, for many did not consider him experienced enough for this level of the judiciary. Shafer officially withdrew his candidacy in 1972 to take on the job as CEO of TelePrompter, a broad band communications company, a position he held until a management reorganization of the financially troubled company in October, 1973.


President Nixon appointed Ray Shafer Chair of this National Commission in 1971, and its findings were released in several stages. The first report from the fall of 1972 was Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding, issued both as a government report and a mass market Signet New American Library paperback. The second report from March, 1973 was Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective. The findings of the Commission were controversial from the beginning, for they attacked the "hodge-podge" of U.S. drug laws, challenged exaggerated myths about marijuana's dangers , and recommended decriminalization of marijuana use. The Administration virtually ignored the report, and in fact, stepped up the "War on Drugs" at all levels. However, the insights of the Report remain widely acclaimed.

Many praised the courage of Ray Shafer in maintaining the Commission's objectivity and neutrality under enormous political pressure, as in the editorial Findings of Fact published in the Meadville Tribune on March 25, 1972. Ray Shafer continued to promote the Commission's report and speak on drug issues for several years after the report's release.
Marijuana vs. Marihuana?
This common name for the plant Cannabis sativa can be spelled either way. While marijuana is the preferred spelling today, marihuana reflects the Spanish - Mexican origin of the word. The Commission name and reports consistently use the marihuana spelling, which we have retained when referring to them.


In the crisis surrounding Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon in August, 1974, Ray Shafer returned to government. Many speculated that this classmate of Gerald Ford might be named to a Washington post such as the Vice-Presidency or Secretary of the Navy. In fact, from August 1974 to January 1977, Shafer served as special counsel on the staff of Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller. Shafer functioned as liaison between Washington and local government, with a special focus on the re-enactment of the General Revenue Sharing Program, energy independence programs, and other domestic issues.

Shafer appears in this group of
Philadelphia Lions with Yale classmate
Gerald Ford (far left).

Continued Public Service

From 1977 to 1988, Ray Shafer held a position as Partner and Senior Counselor with the Accounting firm Cooper and Lybrand, of Washington, D.C., focussing primarily in the area of community service.

Shafer has always been an enthusiastic "student on China." He was a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, formed in 1966 to promote all aspects of cultural and economic exchange, serving as its chair in the mid-1980s and visiting China at that time.

Raymond P. Shafer's accomplishments focus on human needs. He is the proud recipient of the 1972 Gold Medal award from the Society of the Family of Man. He was and remains active on numerous boards, including the National Organization on Disability, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, National Legal Center for the Public Interest and the Freedoms Foundation. Ray Shafer's dedication to the community might be summed up very simply. As he said in a 1992 interview with Ed Wellejus:

"Believe me, the only excuse for government is to give service to the people."


The Shafer Commission Report on marijuana is frequently cited on the web, particularly by groups urging reform of current drug legislation or scholars reciting the history of governmental drug studies. The links listed below represent only a few examples of Shafer web citation.

In 1968, Governor Shafer became involved when Pennsylvania students were supposedly blinded by LSD use. Shafer later called the incident a hoax.

Websites connected to Shafer's current involvements.

Apollo Astronauts back |

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July 20, 2006
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