History of the American Drug War

The first act of America's anti-drug laws was in 1875. It
outlawed the smoking of opium in opium dens. This was a San Francisco
ordinance. The basis on passing this law was that Chinese men had a
way of luring white women to their dens and causing their "ruin",
which was the association with Chinese men. Later, other Federal laws
such as trafficking in opium was illegal for anyone of Chinese origin.
The opium laws were directed at the smoking of opium. The law didn't
effect importation of the drug because opium was a common medical
drug. This law was specifically targeted at the Chinese, for the
smoking of opium was a Chinese custom.

Cocaine was outlawed for fears that black men would go on a
sexual rampage and rape white women. In the early 1900's, newspapers
referred to them as "Negro Cocaine Fiends" or "Cocainized Niggers".
There is little evidence that this actually happened.

The Harrison Act had started as a licensing law which required
sellers to obtain a license if they were going to handle opiates or
cocaine. The law contains a provision that nothing in the law would
prohibit doctors from prescribing these drugs in the legitimate
practice of medicine. The people who wrote the Harrison Act and
Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, agreed that a prohibition on what people
could put into their bodies was an unconstitutional infringement on
personal liberties.

Marijuana was outlawed in 1937. The reason for it being
outlawed was that the plant had a violent effect on the degenerate
races. The American Medical Association testified that they were
opposed to the law. The law would never have passed without the
endorsement from the AMA, but when the supporters of the law were
asked about the AMA's view on the floor of congress, they had stated
that the AMA was all for it. When the law had passed, the AMA
protested, but the law was never repealed.

It is difficult to determine how many people in the US use
drugs. The Federal Government's Household Survey on Drug Abuse, is the
most common set of statistics on the use of drugs. According to the
latest surveys, conducted by the DEA, there are about 12.7 million
people who have used an illegal drug in the past month, and about 30 -
40 million people who have used an illegal drug in the past year.
Among the 12.7 people who have used an illegal drug in the past month,
about 10 million are casual drug users and about 2.7 million are drug
addicts. The figures produced by the Household Survey on Drug Abuse
are obtained over the phone. Therefore, there was a problem reaching
those without phones, those who didn't answer their phones, and those
who answered the question honestly. Other surveys put the figures at
least twice as high.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million people in state and
Federal prisons and jails throughout the US At least 24 states are
under Federal court orders to relieve prison overcrowding. Prison
population had been relatively stable from about 1926 to about 1970.
From that point, Nixon's war against drugs, then the Reagan and Bush
war against drugs, caused a dramatic increase in the number of
prisoners. The estimated 30 - 40 million people who have used an
illegal drug in the past year, would fill a prison holding the
populations of California, Arizona and New Mexico altogether. The cost
of holding a single one of these persons would be about $450,000. The
cost for the arrest and the conviction is about $150,000. The cost for
an additional bed would be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000,
depending upon the jurisdiction. It costs about $30,000 per year to
house a prisoner, with an average sentence of five years, adding up to
be $150,000. The estimated $450,000 (out of taxpayers money), can
provide treatment or education for about 200 people. Out of the
percentage of people in prison, 59.6% are in prison for a drug

The war on drugs could be won if we were successful in at
least one of three areas. If we could stop drug production in other
countries, if we could stop drugs at the border or if we could stop
the sale of drugs within the United States. Stopping drug production
in other countries has already proven to have failed. In 1993, ABC