Drug Prohibition

Drug prohibition refers to policies that restrict access to and criminalize the sale and possession of certain mood-altering substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Intoxicants have been used in most societies throughout history, and for most of history, such use has been governed by social custom, rather than legal penalty. In the 20th century, however, Western nations adopted a series of increasingly restrictive policies on the use and sale of certain drugs, restrictions that have become almost universal. Libertarians have opposed such restrictions because of their harmful effects and because they violate individual rights.

The road to prohibition began with medicalization, with both the American and British governments restricting distribution by persons other than medical professionals before banning the substances outright. In 1868, the British ...

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