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History of the American Drug War The first act of Americas anti-drug laws was in 1875 It outlawed the smoking of opium in opium dens This was a San Francisco ordinance The basis on passing this law was that Chinese men had a way of luring white women to their dens and causing their ruin which was the association with Chinese men Later other Federal laws such as trafficking in opium was illegal for anyone of Chinese origin The opium laws were directed at the smoking of opium The law didnt effect importation of the drug because opium was a common medical drug This law was specifically targeted at the Chinese for the smoking of opium was a Chinese custom The Harrison Act had started as a licensing law that required sellers to obtain a license if they were going to handle opiates or cocaine The law contains a provision that nothing in the law would prohibit doctors from prescribing these drugs in the legitimate practice of medicine The people who wrote the Harrison Act and Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 agreed that a prohibition on what people could put into their bodies was an unconstitutional infringement on personal liberties Marijuana was outlawed in 1937 The reason for it being outlawed was that the plant had a violent effect on the degenerate races The American Medical Association testified that they were opposed to the law The law would never have passed without the endorsement from the AMA but when the supporters of the law were asked about the AMAs view on the floor of congress they had stated that the AMA was all for it When the law had passed the AMA protested but the law was never repealed It is difficult to determine how many people in the US use drugs The Federal Governments Household Survey on Drug Abuse is the most common set of statistics on the use of drugs
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