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Wilson Administration, Woodrow

  • By: Jeff R. Temple, Benjamin K. Seidensticker & Gregory L. Stuart
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Thomas Woodrow Wilson served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 until 1921. During his administration, the United States began implementing a universal drug management policy. The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act (Harrison Act), signed into law by Wilson in 1913, brought important changes to the way potentially harmful drugs were produced and dispersed. This act, and resulting court decisions, laid the groundwork for nearly all future drug restrictions.

In the run up to and the beginning of Wilson's policy-shaping term, public opinion in the United States was highly critical of those who abused cocaine or opium. Sensationalist newspapers played on latent racial tensions, claiming opium incited young black men to rape white women. Opium was also reported to promote idleness in working men.

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