Drug Policy in the United States Final

Drug Policy in the United States Final - Alea Roach...

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Alea Roach A05760824 6.15.2006 POLI 145A Final Exam The United States and its Policy on Drugs: 1968 – 1982 In the United States, attempts to control psychoactive substances, their use, and people who use them are not new, and people have come to expect this from the government on a relatively frequent basis. Beginning with alcohol in the 1800s, many state governments attempted to outlaw alcohol because of its perceived ill effects on society. The federal government remained relatively neutral on the issue of alcohol prohibition until 1919, when the Eighteenth Amendment was passed. This amendment prohibited production, distribution, and sale of alcohol, with very few exceptions (Mares 122). The Eighteenth Amendment was repealed in 1933; however other, smaller-scale forms of prohibition in the United States remained. For example, opiates and cocaine were banned in 1914 by the Harrison Act, and marijuana was outlawed in 1937 through extreme tax laws. These laws remained in place for the next thirty years until the 1960s, when drug policy again came into the spotlight of American issues and politics (Mares 122). From the years of 1968 to 1982, the United States’ drug policy changed drastically. Drugs began to come in to the national awareness and the political arena in the early 1960s, and from then until the mid 1970s, the Nixon and Carter administrations attempted to reduce the harms of drugs on society, specifically reducing the harms and crimes related to heroin use through the implementation of methadone clinics and other harm-reduction-focused treatments for drug users. The Ford administration attempted to rehabilitate drug users in order to reduce drug use. Later, the Reagan administration attempted to decrease drug use through harsh
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penalties and strict enforcement of the existing drug laws. Reagan’s policies have carried over into today’s drug policy in the United States, where we now have a drug policy focused on deterrence through harsh penalties for users, producers, and distributors. In the United States, with the 1960s came a number of other things such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the fallout from the United States Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education. These things began to change the public perception of many issues facing the United States at this time, including the use of psychoactive substances. Marijuana became more prevalent as a result of a growing middle class and a still relatively large lower class. Also, LSD and methamphetamines were used in certain social circles. As the 1960s ended, heroin use also became more prevalent. During this time, not only did the use of psychoactive substances in this country change, but also, the perception of the use of the substances, and the perception of the substances themselves changed as well. By the end of the 1960s, most people were aware that marijuana and other drugs were a problem in this country, especially among the counterculture movement,
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Drug Policy in the United States Final - Alea Roach...

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