Anslinger, Harry

Harry Anslinger served as commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, and some consider him the nation's first “drug czar,” even before Myles Ambrose. Anslinger had a central role in shaping U.S. and international drug policies over this period, particularly with respect to marijuana. He also published several articles in popular magazines and co-authored three books on drug-related topics.

In the 1910s Anslinger was employed as a railroad detective and later entered the U.S. diplomatic service. In 1926 he was appointed U.S. consul in Nassau in the British Bahamas, which at the time was a key location from which alcohol was smuggled into the United States during the prohibition era; he also served in the Prohibition Bureau itself.

Anslinger was the ...

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