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Punitive Prohibition in America (From Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice, P 321-333, 1997, Craig Reinarman and Harry G Levine, eds. - See NCJ-170648)

NCJ Number
C Reinarman; H G Levine
Date Published
13 pages
Unnecessarily punitive prohibition has been employed in the United States to regulate drugs since the early days of alcohol prohibition in the 19th century.
Punitive prohibition became the governing regime in U.S. drug control policies about 1920. By that year, national alcohol prohibition was in effect, and prominent prohibitionists and law enforcement officials also established the prohibition of cocaine and opiates. In 1930, Congress established the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) as a sister agency to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the FBN later became the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). DEA and antidrug units in city, county, and State police departments continue to carry out punitive prohibition. Punitive prohibition has powerful constituents who have vested material and ideological interests in it. In addition, punitive prohibition in general and the crack scare and the drug war in particular have provided a fiscal bonanza for the drug control complex. The crack scare and the drug war have also fueled the growth of a large for-profit drug treatment industry. Further, media sources have been influential in constructing a climate of public opinion favorable to punitive prohibition. The authors conclude economic and social conditions are likely to worsen in ways that will encourage drug abuse, drug sales, and elite and popular support for punitive prohibition. 31 references and 4 notes


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