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May 29, 2006 9:32 am

Unhappy Anniversary

On May 7th the hundred year anniversary of the District of Columbia Pharmacy and Poisons Act, America’s first federal drug law, occurred. To coincide with the occasion Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML and the California Drug Policy Forum, has written an outstanding article putting the enactment into historical context and discussing its ramifications.

I liked it so much I assigned it to my online class, especially the following passage because I have seen this pattern with so many other drug laws: “Unlike alcohol prohibition, narcotics prohibition was not caused by any widespread public pressure or political campaign. Rather, it was the work of government insiders, led by progressive-era professional groups and anti-opium missionaries, with crucial support from President Theodore Roosevelt.”

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