Jackie Kennedy allegedly had the Secret Service quietly destroy some cannabis plants that were found growing in her garden, according to a new book.
Kate Storey's latest book, White House by the Sea, is a detailed history of the Kennedy family's summer retreat in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. President John F. Kennedy and his family regularly spent their summers at this massive Cape Cod escape before his assassination in 1963, and his wife continued to spend time there with her second husband, Aristotle Onassis. Storey relates that Jackie O spent a significant amount of time on the Cape, sunbathing nude and painting in the sunroom.
But in 1975, Onassis' assistant Kathy McKeon made an unexpected discovery that threatened to bring the idyllic getaway to an end. One summer day, she found some suspicious-looking weeds in the family garden. McKeon pointed the plants out to Jack Dempsey, a former police chief and friend of the family, who confirmed that the plants were indeed marijuana.
Dempsey, who used to regularly hang out with the Secret Service agents who were assigned to protect the family, immediately told Jackie O about the discovery. “Are you kidding me?” she responded, according to an excerpt of Storey's book that was recently published in Town & Country. “Oh my God, this can’t get out. How are we going to fix this?”
Dempsey proposed a simple solution. “Just ignore it,” he said, according to Storey. “We’ll pull it.” Onassis was relieved to hear that the problem could be resolved without notifying the local cops. “Good,” she said. “I don’t want this to get out.”
Onassis had good reason to fear getting caught with weed. Just four years earlier, former President Richard Nixon kicked off his notorious War on Drugs, and cops all across the US were cracking down on cannabis and psychedelics users with extreme prejudice. Any regular citizen who was caught with live pot plants growing in their garden would be guaranteed to face prison time. And at the height of cannabis stigmatization, any media coverage of the discovery would bring shame on this wealthy family.
But for the former First Lady, the feds were happy to make the problem go away. A few trusted Secret Service agents helped Dempsey rip up the pot plants and quietly dispose of them. McKeon and Dempsey didn't believe that the family's gardeners had planted the weed and also found it highly unlikely that either of their young children planted it either. So, they simply let the matter drop.
The Kennedys succeeded in keeping this controversial discovery completely under wraps, and the story never hit the press until Storey published her new book. The police never investigated the matter, and no one ever learned exactly who planted the mysterious weed in the family garden. But according to some popular rumors, JFK used to blaze joints at the White House with his mistress, and if that's true, it’s theoretically possible that he may have wanted to have some extra grass at his summer resort as well.