Quotation: "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted:

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. Thomas Jefferson retirement papers
  3. Thomas Jefferson: Papers and Biographies collections in Hathi Trust Digital Library

Earliest appearance in print: 1997[1]

Comments: This quotation has never been found in Jefferson's papers in its above form, but it is most likely a paraphrase of Jefferson's statement in Notes on the State of Virginia, "Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now."[2]


  1. ^ Mary Lynn Mathre, Cannabis in Medical Practice: a Legal, Historical, and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1997), [verso].
  2. ^ Notes, ed. Peden, 159. See this quotation's entry in the Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters Database.  See also passage in 1787 edition of Notes online.