Timeline of Major Legislations on the Enforcement of Drug Laws in the United States

Annotated Timeline Assignment Instructions

Produce a sequential timeline, identifying the major policy statements or legislation that had significant effects on the enforcement of drug laws in the United States. The timeline should begin with the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and end at today’s date. This project may contain a chart, detailing the significant statements and legislation, and should also contain significant narrative explanations. The narrative portion of the project should be at least two full pages of text. The narrative should also contain:

  • a detailed description of the event
  • an assessment of its impact on drug and/or alcohol control
  • public attitudes/responses to the event

Timeline of Major Legislations on the Enforcement of Drug Laws in the United States

YearPolicy StatementDescription, Impact Assessment and, Public Response
1906Pure Food and Drug ActThe Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 served as the federal government’s first displays of its commitment to control the illegal drug problem in the United States. As a consequence, physicians now labeled any drugs containing opiates, cannabis, and cocaine. These changes were met with a positive response from the public since they were bound to contribute to the reduction of drug addiction.
1909Smoking Opium Exclusion ActOpium was singled out for prohibition in1909 owing to its high dependence potential. The immediate impact of this policy statement was the banning of opium in the United States. As a consequence, the amount of smoking opium imported from the Far East decreased substantially. The prevailing attitude was one of relief in the Pacific Mid-West where opium smoking had ravaged many frontier settlements for decades.
1913Webb-Kenyon ActDuring this period, the federal government expressed its willingness to control the consumption of alcohol using a new tactic. The enactment of the Webb-Kenyon Act led to the creation of “wet” and “dry” states where the sale of alcohol was allowed or prohibited, respectively (Walsh, 2017). The act was met with outrage from the American public since alcohol was not considered a substance with high potential for abuse by many.
1914Harrison Narcotics ActBy 1914, Opiates were identified as an existential threat that had to be managed expeditiously. The Harrison Narcotics Actsought to manage this problem by banning their manufacture and distribution.  High taxation essentially meant that these substances were made illegal, putting many importers out of business. Nevertheless, it was a welcome relief to a public well-aware of the damaging effects of opiates and cocaine.
1920Volstead Prohibition ActThe federal government reiterated its earlier stance on alcohol with the Volstead Prohibition Act. It effectively proscribed its sale, its circulation, and consumption (Funderburg, 2014, p.67). The public was once again livid. Many proceeded to engage in the illegal smuggling of “moonshine” spirits popularized by the Italian-American mob boss Al Capone.
1922Narcotics Drugs Import and Export ActNarcotics were once again identified as noxious substances without any health benefits to the human beings. The Narcotics Drugs Import and Export Act sought to control the entry and exportation of this substance, curtailing their spread. Since these activities disrupted activities in ports of entry, many were left enraged by the bureaucracy introduced by this new policy.
1929Porter Narcotic Farm ActThe federal government was once again aware of the impact of narcotics on users. The implementation of this act aimed to treat addicts incarcerated for a wide range of drug-related charges. Fort Worth and Kentucky were assigned the role of treating addicts. Addicts primarily appreciated these efforts and thronged these facilities to receive treatment.
1932 Uniform State Narcotics Act  The federal government introduced a new strategy to address the narcotics problem in the country. In applying this new act, federal laws superseded state laws. The result was an improvement in collaboration efforts between these two entities to control narcotics. The public and state legislators applauded this attempt since it would contribute to efforts aimed at ending this menace.
1937Marijuana Tax ActThe federal government identified marijuana as a substance of interest and was now determined to control its proliferation. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal to cultivate, manufacture, and distribute marijuana in the United States. The public was appreciative of this fact since many considered marijuana a dangerous drug capable of harming society.
1942Opium Poppy Control ActAlthough the federal government was making concerted efforts to control opiates within the United States, poppy cultivation continued unabated. The Opium Poppy Control Act aimed to counteract these efforts by prohibiting the growing of poppy plants. The government provided licenses to select farmers allowed to grow and process poppy for medicinal use.
1951Boggs ActPolicymakers within the federal government were tasked with ensuring that they devised new strategies to control drug use. The Boggs Act was one such attempt that created mandatory minimum sentences for anyone guilty of breaking drug laws. Drug users were incensed by these terms since many regarded their drug use and addiction as a problem that required a different approach.
1956Narcotic Control ActIn yet another attempt to control the use and distribution of narcotics within the United States, the federal government introduced new stringent measures. These included harsh penalties for the cultivation, distribution, and possession of narcotics. Addicts were some of the first victims of this new law, even though the public appreciated these efforts. 
1966Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation ActAddiction within the United States was a major social problem which had been earlier been identified by previous administrations. The Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act was an attempt to curb drug usage by targeting drug users. These efforts were widely appreciated since user could now avoid lengthy prison sentences by agreeing to participate in treatment programs.
1970Comprehensive Substance Abuse ActThe federal government introduced the Comprehensive Substance Abuse Act of 1970 as a new approach to the drug problem in the United States. It effectively replaced previous acts and introduced schedules for controlled substances. In addition to this, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created and tasked with all matters related to an illegal substance. Attitudes towards this new endeavor were positive since it was viewed as a useful strategy when seeking to manage the drug problem in the United States.
1986 Anti-Drug Abuse ActIn 1986, Congress sought to introduce a new law that would transform the federal government’s penal system.  The enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act now meant that the government was heavily involved in rehabilitating addicts rather than punishing them (Commission, 2018). However, the public was critical of this new law since new mandatory minimums were introduced for drug-related offenses.
1997The Drug-Free Communities ActNearly ten years after enacting the transformative law above, substance abuse was still a central issue of concern for the federal government. The Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 was a nascent initiative to reduce drug abuse within inner-city youth. Communities in affected areas welcomed these efforts and partnered with government agencies to reduce substance abuse.
2000 Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation ActThe proliferation of MDMA emerged as a worrying trend in the United States and threatened the semblance of normalcy in the country. The scheduling of this drug as a controlled substance now meant that penalties for use and sale were increased for any user guilty of infractions. Club owners were some of the first victims of this law since the drug was mostly sold in their clubhouses by rave dealers. 
2014Colorado Amendment 64In 2014, Colorado became the first state to revise its drug policies. It legalized marijuana for personal and recreational use for adults above 21 (Kleiman & Hawdon, 2014). It was primarily viewed as a landmark ruling which was bound to transform public attitudes regarding the use of cannabis.
2016Adult Use of Marijuana Act The State of California also legalized the use of cannabis in the state in 2016.  It was a new strategy aimed at overturning previous federal legislation on the production, sale, and distribution of marijuana while focusing solely on regulation. The public welcomed this move since legalization stifled the illegal drug market.
2018Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana ActFollowing closely on a growing cannabis legalization trend, the State of Michigan also revised its laws and reviewing an earlier stance on the controlled substance. The sale, ingestion, and sale of marijuana now became legal. Public attitudes were also transformed, especially when scientific studies were beginning to prove its efficacy in managing cancer.

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