Drugs in the United States

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Detroit police inspecting equipment found in a clandestine brewery during the Prohibition era.

In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act definition of a drug includes "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals" and "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals."[1] Consistent with that definition, the U.S. separately defines narcotic drugs and controlled substances, which may include non-drugs, and explicitly excludes tobacco, caffeine and alcoholic beverages.[2]

Federal drug policy[edit]

War on Drugs[edit]

Main article: War on Drugs
As part of the "War on Drugs", the U.S. gives hundreds of millions of dollars per year of military aid to Colombia, used to combat guerrilla groups such as FARC, involved in narcotics trafficking. Colin Powell is seen here visiting Colombia in 2006 in support of Plan Colombia.

The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, and the stated aim to define and reduce the illegal drug trade.[3][4] This initiative includes a set of drug policies of the United States that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs. The term "War on Drugs" was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Drug courts[edit]

The first Drug court in the United States took shape in Miami-Dade County, Florida in 1989 as a response to the growing crack-cocaine problem plaguing the city. Chief Judge Gerald Wetherington, Judge Herbert Klein, then State Attorney Janet Reno and Public Defender Bennett Brummer designed the court for nonviolent offenders to receive treatment. This model of court system quickly became a popular method for dealing with an ever increasing number of drug offenders. Between 1984 and 1999, the number of defendants charged with a drug offense in the Federal courts increased 3% annually, from 11,854 to 29,306. By 1999 there were 472 Drug Courts in the nation and by 2005 that number had increased to 1262 with another 575 Drug Courts in the planning stages; currently all 50 states have working Drug Courts. There are currently about 120,000 people treated annually in Drug Courts, though an estimated 1.5 million eligible people are currently before the courts. There are currently more than 2,400 Drug Courts operating throughout the United States.

Pharmacological drugs[edit]

Doping in sports[edit]

Doping is the taking of performance-enhancing drugs, generally for sporting activities. Doping has been detected in many sporting codes, especially baseball and football.

Recreational drugs by type[edit]


Cigarette smokers as a percentage of the population for the United States as compared with the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, and Finland.





See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act" U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on 24 September 2007.
  2. ^ "21 USC Sec. 802." U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved on 24 September 2007.
  3. ^ Cockburn and St. Clair, 1998: Chapter 14
  4. ^ Bullington, Bruce; Alan A. Block (March 1990). "A Trojan horse: Anti-communism and the war on drugs". Crime, Law and Social Change (Springer Netherlands) 14 (1): 39–55. doi:10.1007/BF00728225. ISSN 1573-0751. 

Further reading[edit]

  • DeGrandpre, Richard J (2006). The cult of pharmacology : how America became the world's most troubled drug culture. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822338819.