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Anti-Drug Operations, Pre-1960s

  • By: Felix O. Chima
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Although U.S. efforts in the “War on Drugs” are not new, American drug problems and responses reflect a conglomeration of attitudes and customs that have defined and redefined the problem over time. Despite the perception of drugs as a modern plague, Americans have been using and abusing drugs since the Pilgrims landed here in 1620 with 14 tons of water, 10,000 gallons of wine, and 42 tons of beer. Historical accounts show that many anti-drug operations in the United States have been ill-fated attempts at social control. These attempts have ranged from periods of legal use of drugs for medicinal purposes to its repudiation on moral grounds to criminalization to medicalization. The most prevalently used drugs include depressants (alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, Quaaludes, PCP), stimulants (caffeine, ...

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