Last Updated on January 2, 2019 by Dr. Alberto Solà

The best advice recovering addicts received while battling their addiction.

Curious about the origins of the “War on Drugs”? From the 1800s until now, politics, economics, and interested parties have fueled the war on drugs in the United States:

Early Drug Use and First Drug Laws

  • 8,600 to 5,600 BCE: First known use of hallucinogens. Between this time and 300 BCE, when the first known nicotine pipe is used, humans were using substances that are now illegal, including opiates, psychedelics, and coca leaves.
  • 1870s: First laws against opium enacted as numbers of Chinese immigrants rise.
  • 1900s: First anti-cocaine laws enacted along with other laws restricting rights of African-Americans.
  • 1910-1920s: First anti-marijuana laws enacted as numbers of migrant workers from Mexico and Mexican-Americans increase in the US.

Culture Shift

  • 1960s: Illegal drugs become symbols of counterculture, American youth, and anti-government sentiment.
  • 1971: President Nixon declares “War on Drugs.” Police gain the power of no-knock warrants, and courts use mandatory minimums to fill prisons with addicts who are disproportionately poor people of color.
  • 1980s to 1990s: Incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders skyrockets from 50,000 to over 400,000 thanks to the war on drugs.
  • 1990s: Fear about crack cocaine creates vast racially-motivated sentencing disparities and “zero tolerance” regulations scuttle HIV/AIDS harm reduction programs.

The 21st Century

  • 2000s: Federal policies maintain drug war position, placing them at odds with reformed state laws.
  • 2010s: Medical marijuana laws in various states are in conflict with federal law and the Controlled Substances Act which still designates marijuana a “Schedule I” controlled substance, against the consensus in the scientific community.
  • 2013: For the first time ever, the majority of people and businesses in the US support legalizing marijuana.
  • 2017: For the first time ever, most Republicans support legalization, even as the Trump administration and Sessions Department of Justice revive the “war on drugs” approach. President Trump declares the opioid crisis in the US a state of emergency.

To find out more about recovery despite the war on drugs and how this political battle affects your options for recovery, reach out to Clear Sky today.

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