United States Federal Drug Policy



The United States federal government plays an active role in setting and implementing drug policy. Federal agencies define the legal status of drugs and penalties for their trafficking and misuse; enforce drug-control laws; fund and conduct drug-abuse research, treatment, prevention, and public-information campaigns; and conduct drug-control operations abroad. Federal spending on drug control has increased dramatically in recent decades, with the “War on Drugs”, and is now approximately 14 billion dollars. The balance between public-health and law-enforcement approaches to combating drug abuse historically has shifted back and forth; the most recent developments suggest a turn toward public health. The policymaking process is often driven by political concerns more than evidence, and the objectives and effectiveness of federal policy are hotly disputed.


Federal drug policy Drug-control agencies Drug-control budget Drug-control history 


  1. 1.
    Alcohol Problems and Solutions (2008) DARE still fails to reduce alcohol and drug abuse. Accessed 23 Jan 2009
  2. 2.
    Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (1987) Pub Law 570, 99th Cong., approved 27 OctGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (1988) Pub Law 690, 100th Cong., approved 18 NovGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Battelle Memorial Institute (2008) Interim DFC program evaluation findings report. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bennett W, DiIulio J, Walters J (1996) Body count: moral poverty and how to win America’s war against crime and drugs. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bertram E, Blachman M, Sharpe K, Andreas P (1996) Drug war politics: the price of denial. University of California, Berkeley, CAGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bickel WK, DeGrandpre RJ (1996). Drug policy and human nature: psychological perspectives on the prevention, management, and treatment of illicit drug abuse. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Boggs Act of 1951 (1951) Pub Law No. 255, 82nd Cong., approved 2 NovGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bulwa D (2003) U.S. raids firms selling items used by pot smokers. San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 25, A4Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (2009) 2009 international narcotics control strategy report. Volume I: drug and chemical control. Department of State, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics (2002) US nitrous oxide laws. Accessed 22 Jan 2009
  12. 12.
    Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (2009) Identifying and selecting evidence-based interventions. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MDGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (1984) Pub Law No. 473, 98th Cong., approved 12 OctGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (1970) Pub Law No. 513, 91st Cong., approved 27 OctGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cook, D (2009) New drug czar gets lower rank, promise of higher visibility. Christian science monitor, 11 Mar. Accessed 24 Mar 2009
  16. 16.
    Davenport-Hines, R. (2002). The pursuit of oblivion: a global history of narcotics. W.W. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Act of 1979 (1980) Pub Law 181, 96th Cong., approved 2 JanGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Drug Enforcement Administration (2005) The Combat Meth Act of 2005. Accessed 23 Jan 2009
  19. 19.
    Drug Policy Alliance (2007) Legislative proposals for reform of the crack/cocaine disparity. Accessed 31 Jan 2009
  20. 20.
    Eliason MJ (2007) Improving substance abuse treatment: an introduction to the evidence-based practice movement. SAGE, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Falco M (2004) U.S. federal drug policy. In: Lowinson JH, Ruiz P, Millman RB, Langrod JG (eds) Substance abuse: a comprehensive textbook. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 21–32Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Federal Bureau of Prisons (2009) Quick facts about the bureau of prisons. Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Accessed 20 Apr 2009Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ford GF (1975) Statement on receiving the report of the domestic council drug abuse task force. Accessed 23 Jan 2009
  24. 24.
    Ford JT (2008) Plan Colombia: drug reduction goals were not fully met, but security has improved; U.S. agencies need more detailed plans for reducing assistance. Government Accountability Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gieringer D (2006) America’s hundred years war on drugs: centennial of the 1st congressional anti-drug law prohibiting opium in the Philippines. Accessed 24 Jan 2009
  26. 26.
    Gonzales M, McEnery K, Sheehan T, Mellody S (1986) America’s habit: drug abuse, drug trafficking, and organized crime: President’s commission on organized crime. DIANE, Derby, PAGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gonzales v. Raich (2005) 545 U.S. 1 (2005) 352 F.3d 1222. Accessed 19 Apr 2009
  28. 28.
    Goodman C, Ahn R, Harwood R, Ringel D, Savage K, Mendelson D et al (1997) Market barriers to the development of pharmacotherapies for the treatment of cocaine abuse and addiction: final report. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Institute of Education Sciences (2006) Impact evaluation of mandatory-random student drug testing. US Department of Education, Washington, DC. Accessed 23 Jan 2009Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    International Opium Convention (1912). Translation 222. League of Nations, The Hague. Accessed 21 Jan 2009Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kanof ME (2003) Youth illicit drug use prevention: DARE long-term evaluations and federal efforts to identify effective programs. General Accounting Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kennedy R (1997) Race, crime, and the law. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    King R (1972) The drug hang-up, America’s fifty year folly. Bannerstone House, Springfield, ILGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kolb L, Du Mez AG (1924) The prevalence and trend of drug addiction in the United States and factors influencing it. Public Health Reports 39(21):1179–1204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    MacCoun R, Reuter P (2008) The implicit rules of evidence-based drug policy: a U.S. perspective. Int J Drug Policy 19(3):231–232PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Manski CF, Pepper JV, Petrie CV (eds) (2001) Informing America’s policy on illegal drugs: what we don’t know keeps hurting us. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p 11Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Marijuana Policy Project (2008) State-by-state medical marijuana laws: how to remove the threat of arrest. Marijuana Policy Project, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Meyer J, Glover S (2009) U.S. won’t prosecute medical pot sales. Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar, B1Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Moses C (2008) Do czars matter? an assessment of effectiveness of drug czars. MPSA Annual National Conference. Chicago, 3 AprGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Murphy P (1994) Keeping score: the frailties of the federal drug budget. RAND Corp, Santa Monica, CAGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Musto DF (1999) The American disease: origins of narcotic control. Oxford University, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Musto DF (n.d.). The history of legislative control over opium, cocaine, and their derivatives. Accessed 22 Jan 2009
  43. 43.
    Narcotic Control Act of 1956 (1956) Pub Law No. 728, 84th Cong., approved 18 July. Accessed 1 Feb 2009
  44. 44.
    Narcotic Manufacturing Act of 1960 (1960) Pub Law No. 429, 86th Cong., approved 22 AprGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    National Criminal Justice Reference Service (2003) Evidence-based principles for substance abuse prevention. Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Accessed 30 Mar 2009Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2009) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD. Accessed 23 Jan 2009
  47. 47.
    National Research Council (2001) Informing America’s policy on illegal drugs: what we don’t know keeps hurting us. Commission on behavioral and social sciences and education. National Academies, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Nigro v. U.S. (1928) 276 U.S. 332. Accessed 31 Jan 2009
  49. 49.
    Office of the Press Secretary (2009) National D.A.R.E. day. The White House, Washington, DC. Accessed 15 Apr 2009Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Orwin R, Cadell D, Chu A, Kalton G, Maklan D, Morin C, et al (2006) Evaluation of the national youth anti-drug media campaign: 2004 report of findings. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, MDGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Prettyman Commission (1963) Report of the President’s advisory commission on narcotics and drug abuse. H.R. Rep. No. 1444, 91st Cong., 2nd Sess. Cited in Gonzales M, McEnery K, Sheehan T, Mellody S (1986) America’s habit: drug abuse, drug trafficking, and organized crime: President’s commission on organized crime. DIANE, Derby, PAGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Ringwalt C, Vincus AA, Ennett ST, Hanley S, Bowling JM, Yacoubian GS Jr et al (2008) Random drug testing in US public school districts. Am J Public Health 98(5):826–828PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Sabet KA (2007) The “local” matters: a brief history of the tension between federal drug laws and state and local policy. J Global Drug Policy Prac 1(4). Accessed 22 Jan 2009
  54. 54.
    Sack JL (2001) DARE anti-drug program to shift strategy. Education Week 20(23):1–2Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Satcher D (2001) Youth violence: a report of the surgeon general. United States Public Health Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Schaller M (1970) The federal prohibition of marihuana. J Social History 4(1):61–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Shafer RP (1972) Marihuana: a signal of misunderstanding. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Shulgin AT (1988) Controlled substances: a chemical and legal guide to the federal drug laws. Ronin, Berkeley, CAGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Sonnenreich MR, Roccograndi AJ, Bogomolny RL (1975) Handbook on the 1970 federal drug act. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, ILGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    The White House (2003) National drug control strategy: FY 2004 budget summary. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    The White House (2004) National drug control strategy: FY 2005 budget summary. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    The White House (2008) National drug control strategy: FY 2009 budget summary. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    The White House (2009) National drug control strategy: 2009 annual report. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    The White House (2009) Prevention programs. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, DC. Accessed 30 Jan 2009Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    The White House (2009) Authorizing legislation. Accessed 23 Mar 2009
  66. 66.
    The White House (2009) ONDCP homepage. Accessed 21 Apr 2009
  67. 67.
    Timberlake JH (1963) Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900–1920. Harvard University, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Timberlake JH, Lock ED, Rasinski KA (2003) How should we wage the war on drugs? Determinants of public preferences for drug control alternatives. Policy Studies J 31(1):71–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2008) World drug report 2008. United Nations, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    United States Senate (1999) Senate report 106–293. Departments of labor, health and human services, and education and related agencies appropriation bill, 2001Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2009) Border enforcement security task forces. Accessed 20 Apr 2009
  72. 72.
    Veillette C (2006) Plan Colombia: a progress report. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Veillette C (2009) Andean counterdrug initiative (ACI) and related funding programs: FY 2006 assistance. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Walker WO III (1989) Drug control in the Americas. University of New Mexico, AlbuquerqueGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Walsh JM (2004) Fuzzy math: why the White House drug control budget doesn’t add up. FAS drug policy analysis bulletin, 10Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Yamaguchi R, Johnston LD, O’Malley PM (2003) Drug testing in schools: policies, practices, and association with student drug use. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Zeese K (2002) Revising the federal drug control budget report: changing methodology to hide the cost of the drug war? Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, DC. Accessed 4 Apr 2009Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public PolicyPepperdine UniversityMalibuUSA
  2. 2.BOTEC Analysis CorporationLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations