Perhaps no other era of U.S. drug policy was more influential in shaping the state of policy today than the Reagan administration. Lasting from 1981 to 1989, drug policy under this administration saw aggressive expansion and reshaping. This was partly because of changes in domestic drug consumption, and partly due to growing intolerance of a drug epidemic perceived to be sweeping across the nation. The social and political climates in the United States during this period combined to effect changes in drug policy that both represented departures from previous administrations' strategies and established significant inertia for future policy.

The Drug Epidemic

The landscape of drug use changed dramatically in the 1980s. Although cocaine had seen periods of relative popularity in the country before, it had not seen ...

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