Drug Use & Control – A Brief History

The Baby Boomers’ Counterculture and a New Era for Drug Policy

Drug use in the U.S. and its policy response took a decidedly marked turn in the late 1960s driven largely by the baby boomer counter culture. The growing prosperity of the 76 million most educated generation to-date along with their...

/ January 8, 2017

Johnson and the Emergence of a Counter Narcotics Strategy (1963-1969)

Starting with Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, successive administrations would deal differently with the challenges presented by growing drug use. Under Johnson, the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965 were passed and the Food and Cosmetic Act of 1938 was amended,...

/ January 7, 2017

Nixon and the Start of ‘The Drug War’ (1969-1974)

In 1969, Richard M. Nixon declared that drugs were America’s number one enemy as his administration officially launched what would be known as the U.S. ‘war on drugs’. As heroin use was on the rise, primarily among returning Vietnam War...

/ January 6, 2017

A Focus on Harm Reduction under Ford and Carter (1974-1981)

Both the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter administrations would continue supporting treatment programs, with more focus on harm reduction (link to Policy Alternatives and the Debate). Ford altered Nixon’s drug strategy by prioritizing the actual treatment of heroin addicts over...

/ January 5, 2017

Reagan Raises the Battle Flag Against Drugs (1981-1989)

The war on drugs picked up steam under President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the first president to systematically target the entire drug chain from producers to dealers to users. Prior strategies of harm reduction were replaced with ones of deterrence...

/ January 4, 2017

George H. W. Bush and Historically Low Drug Consumption (1989-1993)

The one-term George H. W. Bush administration fervently supported the drug war approach. The only significant legislation passed was the New Anti-Drug Law in 1989, which added $3 billion to expand treatment facilities, education, law enforcement and federal prisons. The...

/ January 3, 2017