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Harrison Act

  • By: Eva C. Bertram
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The Harrison Act was a landmark in the development of federal drug policy. Enacted in December 1914, it established the first national drug control regime in the United States. Under its terms, producers and distributors of drugs were required to formally register with the federal government, maintain records of their purchases and sales, and pay taxes on these transactions. The act also specified conditions under which individuals could legally purchase drugs—namely, with a prescription from a doctor in the context of his or her professional work with the patient. By grounding national drug control policy in the federal government's right to levy taxes, the Harrison Act also lodged drug enforcement authority primarily in the Department of Treasury. After the act's passage, Treasury officials sought and ...

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