October 26, 2010
History of the War on Drugs
The war on drugs has been an ongoing fight that many presidents and foreign allegiances have tried to stop the trafficking, distribution and use of illegal drugs into the United States and around the world. Policy and laws have been created and maintained and changed to try and prevent illegal drugs being made in other countries as well as the United States and from being brought across the borders into the United States. The punishment for the drug traffickers and users has been an issue with the campaign to stop illegal drug use and trafficking. Through the United States history the president’s and their administration have been focusing on how to deal with the war on drugs by making laws, arresting people for their illegal activities and most recently giving drug addicts professional help. The first U.S. law which restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 which was a United States federal law that regulated and taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates (PBS Frontline). In 1919 the National Prohibition Act prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption on a national level. The act defined intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing more than 0.5% alcohol. With the combination of the Eighteenth Amendment and this laws was passed under the House of Representatives authority became known simply as "Prohibition" (Congressional Record).
Although Nixon popularized the term "War on Drugs" when he first used it in 1971, the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S. which stretched back to the year 1914. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is a United States federal law that, with subsequent modifications, requires the pharmaceutical industry to maintain physical security and strict record keeping for certain types of drugs and prescriptions for drugs in all five of the schedule types must bear the physician's federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license number (Frontline). Nixon officially declared a war on drugs, identifying drug abuse as “public enemy number 1. Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to coordinate efforts of all other agencies in 1973 (NPR). In November 1975 Columbian police seized 600 kilograms of cocaine from a small plan. Drug traffickers responded with a vendetta, killing 40 people in one weekend in what’s known as the “Medellin Massacre” The event signaled the new power of Colombia’s cocaine industry and the headquarters in Medellin (DEA History Book). Then in 1979 Carlos Lehder, co-founder of the Medellin cartel, purchased a 165-acre island in the Bahamas. He used this small island to transport drugs from Colombia to the United States using small planes that refueled on the island (NPR). Starting in 1981 the Medellin Cartel rose to power, it included the families of Ochoa, Pablo Escobar, Carolos Lehder and Jose Gonzalo Rodrigues Gacha. These were the drug kingpins. They worked together to manufacture, transport, and market cocaine into the United States. Pablo Escobar was the main leader of the cartel and made lots of money with his illegal activities, and because of the cartel’s activities into the United States and the corruption in the cartel caused in Colombia the U.S. and Colombia ratified a bilateral extradition treaty (New York Times). Then in 1982 Panamanian leader General Manuel Noriega allowed Pablo Escobar to ship cocaine through Panama since Escobar was having trouble with his previous way to transport cocaine out of Colombia. While Vice-President George H.W. Bush combined agents from multiple agencies and military branches to form the South Florida Drug Task Force, in order to slow down/prevent to importation of cocaine through...