The War On Drugs

Category: Education

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THE WAR ON DRUGS a brief history

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…Before the war…

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Before America’s first drug laws were passed, substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine and cannabis were found in over-the-counter remedies known as patent medicines. The 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act were the first government measures to regulate American use of narcotics.

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Since those first pieces of legislation were passed, the American policy regarding substance abuse trended towards increased criminalization. The result was a decision to “declare a war on drugs,” a war that we have now been fighting for over 40 years and that has no clear end in sight. 1971

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Heroin use among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam is on the increase. As many as 15% of troops return home with severe problems with addiction.

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President Richard Nixon declares drug abuse to be “public enemy No. 1”.

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Methadone Maintenance programs are established to treat the growing heroin problem among U.S. soldiers and American citizens. 1973

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President Nixon creates the Drug Enforcement Administration. 1975

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Colombian police seize 600 kilograms of cocaine – the largest seizure to date – from a small plane. Drug traffickers respond with a vendetta, killing 40 people in one weekend in what became known as the “Medellin Massacre.” The event signals the new power of Columbia’s cocaine industry, headquartered in Medellin.

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Pablo Escobar heads the Medellin cartel and the Colombian cocaine trade. In 1989, Forbes magazine names him the 7th richest person in the world.. In 1993, Escobar is killed when fleeing from Colombian police.

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1984 Nancy Reagan launches her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign.

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The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program is founded by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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1993 President Bill Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), increasing the amount of trade and traffic across the U.S. Mexican border and making it more difficult for U.S. Customs to find narcotics moving across the border.

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It is reported that 90% of narcotics reach the U.S. through its southern border with Mexico. Drug-related violence has begun to spill over into border states, most notably Texas and Arizona.

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President Felipe Calderon of Mexico has pointed out that his country shares a border with “the biggest consumer of drugs and the largest supplier of weapons in the world.” An estimated 20 million Americans struggle with drug abuse and addiction. It’s time to stop fighting a war and start treating a disease.

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