Who declared war on drugs?

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 6-26-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 6-26-11. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3440

Question of the Week: Who declared war on drugs?

“America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”

According to a recent report by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, President Richard Nixon spoke these words on June 17, 1971.

Ironically, a New York University Law Review article noted, “When

President Nixon first declared a national War on Drugs, the policy focused on treatment rather than incarceration … the Nixon era marks the only time in the history of the War on Drugs in which more funding went toward treatment than law enforcement.”

Pew Center on the States reports that there were about 174,000 state prison inmates in 1972.

Nixon’s declaration was just the first, according to a Fordham Law Review article,

“[President Ronald] Reagan officially launched the “War on Drugs” on June 24, 1982, with the creation of the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy. First Lady Nancy Reagan joined the movement, announcing the “Just Say No” campaign in 1982.”

State prison inmates in 1982 approximated 300,000.

The NYU article suggests that,

“With the Obama administration comes hope for scaling down the War on Drugs, though the collateral consequences remain for those who are presently incarcerated. The current director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, has chastised the phrase “War on Drugs” as eliciting an inaccurate representation of the War on Drugs as a war on individuals.”

In 2010, there were over 1.4 million state prisoners, 1.2 million more than on June 17, 1971.

These facts and others like them can be found in the History section of the United States Chapter and in the Prisons & Jails Chapters of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.