The United States has moved away from the tough stance toward drug abuse that symbolized the early years of the war on drugs. Discover how Republicans have influenced American drug policy since the war on drugs began and how the party plans to fight today’s drug epidemic.For half a century, the Republican Party has advocated for strict drug laws and little tolerance for drug use. Republican presidents are credited with launching the war on drugs, creating policies that filled prisons and using military resources to combat international drug trafficking. Nearly 50 years after President Richard Nixon took office, the war on drugs is widely viewed as a failure. Critics blame misguided sentencing laws and an inadequate focus on treatment. But Republican drug policy has never ignored research, education or rehabilitation. FBI task forces and international military intervention may be the Republican Party’s most recognizable attempts to halt drug abuse, but the party has supported and co-sponsored legislation to fund research, advance treatment methods and reform criminal justice policies since the 1970s.
This act clarified and strengthened the federal government’s authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and possession of controlled substances. It also created five classifications of drugs called schedules. The law increased funding for treatment, education and research.
“We have concluded that society should seek to discourage use while concentrating its attention on the prevention and treatment of heavy and very heavy use. The Commission feels that the criminalization of possession of marihuana for personal use is socially self-defeating as a means of achieving this objective.”
This executive order abolished the BNDD and merged all drug enforcement agencies into the newly created U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under the Department of Justice.
This law grouped the National Institute on Drug Abuse with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Mental Health under the authority of the newly created Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
“In recent years, a murderous epidemic of drug abuse has swept our country. Mr. Carter, through his policies and his personnel, has demonstrated little interest in stopping its ravages. Republicans consider drug abuse an intolerable threat to our society, especially to the young.”
“We must address ailments not symptoms, in health-care policy. Drug and alcohol abuse costs thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year. We reaffirm our vigorous commitment to alcohol and drug abuse prevention and education efforts.”
This law increased criminal penalties for drug traffickers, repeat offenders and criminal organizations. It also boosted funding for prevention and treatment efforts and established new research programs. One part of the law, the Federal Analogue Act, increased funding for new prisons and educational programs, but it created a controversial mandatory minimum sentencing policy that would later influence the disproportionate prosecution of African-Americans.
This act created the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the position of Director of National Drug Control Policy, popularly referred to as the drug czar. It also ordered the Department of Justice to create programs for civil law enforcement and authorized a variety of educational and research programs.
“The Office of National Drug Control Policy was cut by 80 percent, and federal drug prosecutions dropped 25 percent. His Attorney General proposed to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and related crimes, and his Surgeon General advocated legalization of narcotics.”
This law established criminal penalties for trafficking of methamphetamine and precursor chemicals used to make the drug.
This act provides grants to local organizations that promote anti-drug messages to youth.
This act outlawed the lease, rent or use of a structure for the purposes of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance. It also ordered the creation of a DEA special agent in each state who was in charge of reducing the supply of club drugs. It also authorized the use of funds to educate parents and youth about the dangers of club drugs.
“We will continue the fight against producers, traffickers and distributors of illegal substances through the collaboration of state, federal and local law enforcement. We support the work of those who help individuals struggling with addiction, and we support strengthening drug education and prevention programs to avoid addiction.”
This law increased the amount of crack cocaine required to meet the threshold for a mandatory drug trafficking sentence and repealed the five-year minimum for first-time possession of crack. It also ordered the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend sentencing guidelines.
“We support mandatory prison sentencing for gang crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, repeat drug dealers, rape, robbery and murder. … We endorse State and local initiatives that are trying new approaches to curbing drug abuse and diverting first time offenders to rehabilitation.”
Published on: October 19, 2016
Last updated on: December 6, 2019
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