History of drug prohibition in America during the 20th century

  • Criminalization of Marijuana

    Between 1915 and 1930, many states outlawed marijuana. In 1937, the federal government required sales with a tax stamp, effectively outlawying legal sales of the drug.
  • U.S. Interdepartmental Committee on Narcotics

    This committee was established by President Harry Truman in an attempt to have multiple agencies of the government cooperate on control of drugs. The Boggs Act of 1951 previously established minimum federal sentencing for possession of marijuana, cocaine and opiates.
  • US Voters Don't Support Legalization

    Only 16% of voters support legalization of cannibis.
  • The War Begins

    President Nixon declares "war on drugs." As a result, federal drug control agencies increased in size and mandatory sentencing was imposed.
  • Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986

    President Reagan signs the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, appropriating $1.7B to fight the drug war. Creates minimum penalties for drugs. Racial disparities in sentencing because of sentencing differences for crack and powder cocaine.
  • Pablo Escobar Among World's Wealthiest

    Forbes magazine lists this leader of Columbian drug cartel as among the richest billionnaires in the world.
  • NAFTA Increases Drug Traffic

    The North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), signed by the US, Mexico and Canada, creates more open borders. As a result, accoridng to a 1999 report, the White estimated roughly 100 tons of cocaine came across the boarder in 1993. Meth seizures in San Diego climbed from 1,409 pounds in 1991 to 13,366 in 1994, as reported by Ryan Grim, of the Huffington Post on July 1, 2009.
  • Prison Population Booms

    Nonviolent drug law offenders increased to 453,000 (from only 40,000 in 1980), according to "Distorted Priorities: Drug Offenders in State Prisons," by Ryan S. King and Marc Mauer, published in the Sentecing Project. Arrests nearly tripled from 180,900 in 1980 to 1,579,566 by 2000. The cost of holding 251,200 drug offenders in state prisons exceeded $5B annually. This same study notes that 58% of drug prisoners have no history of violence or high level drug activity.
  • Mexican Drug Cartel Business Highly Profitable and Violent

    "Mexican Drug Cartels" published by Congressional Research Service states that $13.6B to $49.4B in wholesale profits to Mexican drug cartels from illicit drugs. These cartels, following on the earlier Colombian cartels, are the source of considerable violent crime. By 2012, the official death toll of the Mexican Drug War was at least 60,000, according to the Washington Post in December of 2009. Unconfirmed reports that include people who went "missing" put the toll as high as 100,000.
  • Majority of US voters now support cannibis legalization

    According to Gallup poll, between 56% and 56% of US voters support legalization of pot (published in Huffington Post).
  • Global Commission on Drug Policy--War Has Failed

    Commission declares the "the war on drugs has failed...Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures...have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption." It encourages experimentation "with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime..." The Commission states that countries should "end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others."
  • Population of Drug Related Incarceration Booming

    According to publication of U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 2013, as of 12/31/20111 there were 1,341,804 sentenced prisoners under State jurisdiction. Of these, 225,242 were serving time for drug offenses. Of 197,050 sentenced federal prisoners, 94,600 were serving time for drug offenses.
  • States Legalize Recreational Use of Cannibis

    Colorado Amendment 64 and Washington Initiative 502 are first states to legalize recreational use of cannibis.
  • Kofi Annan Urges End to War on Drugs

    The former Secretary General of the UN, in an editorial for CNN, declares that "repressive approaches to containing drugs have failed." He calls on governments to adopt more humane and effective ways of controlling and regulating drugs.