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Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986

Updated on May 19, 2017
President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan | Source

In spite of the public's reaction to the establishment of this new law there was panic in congress. I will discuss the reason for enacting such legislation, and talk about the effectiveness of this act.

Before the creation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 our country was free enterprise to drug lords and traffickers. This was due to there being no mandatory minimum sentence for drug crimes the time. Drugs were becoming a very bad dilemma in the United States, and many problems could be associated in the handing of such offenses. During the early 50's our government had been quiet on such issues as drug enforcement, and drug abuse education. Our country had just come out of two devastating wars the forgotten war; the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Drug use was prominent among enlisted servicemen, and using drugs became sort of a recreational thing to do. These habits followed them back to American Soil, where drug use was equally prominent.

One of the major agendas of this act was to decrease the amount of people using drugs. The reasoning that backed this act was that drugs cost loss in work productivity, and cause drug-related crime, as well as drugs cause the unhappiness of children whose parents are drug abusers. In fact ten years before legislation of this act President Nixon declared a war on drugs. Nixon hoped through propaganda, and social influence that America would combat the tolerance of drug use, and thus make a commitment to a drug free America. Well, then came along Ronald Regan and in 1986 he signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This law imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug use, and drug trafficking. There was also pressure on other countries that helped drugs enter U.S. soil. So they included a tariff; this being that a ship from another country that wants to birth on our harbors with goods for trade, will be taxed due to not helping on the "War on Drugs".

In contrast this law in my opinion has not been as effective as once thought it would be. But, it does depend on who you ask. A politician may say "this was the universal start of the war on drugs". While, a normal person would be flabbergasted by the amount of money these acts have cost us. And to quote Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, "we are winning the war on drugs", "we are succeeding, it's working, were locking these people up"! ("The War On Drugs an Insiders View", n.d.) So in order to judge the effectiveness of this law I should just look up how many people were incarcerated during 1986-1988. But, is that really how we determine how well this law works, no. In all actuality it is causing more problems than solutions to indiscriminately institutionalize these drug offenders. It causes trauma to the family involved, and causes bias and bigotry towards ethnic cultures that are more commonly found culpable of these crimes. This act insured that cocaine users receive less of a punishment than crack-cocaine users/dealers/traffickers. Even though an amount of cocaine can make a considerable more amount of crack-cocaine. Certain agendas wanted the "poor" that used crack-cocaine to be criminalized more.

This act has worked in some ways such as how Americans as a whole feel about drugs, and how they impact society. Some of these beliefs are generated by others to help us decide whether or not drugs can be acceptable and/or how they can be used. The war on drugs in fact is a war on Americas own people. Politicians have been pushing such agendas for one prime reason and that is social control. I do agree that drug use is harmful to the person involved, but why in a free country do we persecute "lower" individuals more for almost the same crime their ""rich" counterpart does? ex. Cocaine/crack-cocaine controversy

To, conclude no matter how much money we spend, either it be in our lifetime or our grand kids lifetime or both combined we will not "win" the war on drugs. It is an endless war that has been going on for decades.Prisons Federal or not, have the most citizens in for drug related crimes than anything else. Why make it a Federal problem; let the states decide whether or not drug use/sale will be permitted. It has already started with the scheduling of drugs, and the use of medicinal properties of some drugs such as marijuana. The less people that are imprisoned or forced to rehab centers the more profitable, economical, productive, etc... our country will be. We might not have to pay such high taxes to imprison such "feather weight" crimes. There are always two sides to a story and this is mine.


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