History of Drug Laws and Law Enforcement Essay

1640 Words Apr 26th, 2006 7 Pages
Drug Laws and Drug Law Enforcement

Since the late 19th century, the federal and states governments of the United States have enacted laws and policies to deter the use and distribution of illegal drugs. These laws and policies have not only deemed what drugs are legal and illegal, but have also established penalties for the possession and distribution of these substances and established federal agencies to control drug use and administer drug law enforcement. This essay will not only examine the landmark drug laws and policies established by the federal and state governments, but also the enforcement of drug laws.

Brief History of the United States' Drug Laws

The first American law that prohibited the use of a specific drug was
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With the abundant law breaking and widespread mockery of Prohibition laws, the US government finally decided to repeal Prohibition with the passing of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 ("Prohibition").
With the end of Prohibition, drug lawmakers turned their attention away from alcohol and to rising use of marijuana as a recreational drug. Harry J. Anslinger, head of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, led the attack on marijuana. Under the supervision of Anslinger, Congressional committees heard testimonies and accounts on how marijuana "corrupts" youth and arouses violent and sexual urges ("The History of"). Anslinger gave an account of the disastrous effects he believed were caused by marijuana in a 1937 article in the "American Magazine." He states:

Not long ago the body of a young girl lay crushed on the sidewalk after a plunge from a Chicago apartment window. Everyone called it suicide, but actually it was murder. The killer was a narcotic known to America as marijuana, and to history as hashish. Used in the form of cigarettes, it is comparatively new to the United States and as dangerous as a coiled rattlesnake. How many murders, suicides, and maniacal deeds it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured. In numerous communities it thrives almost unmolested, largely because of official ignorance of its effects. Marijuana is the unknown quantity among

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