Changing U.S. Drug Policy

January 23, 1976

Report Outline
New Federal Drive on Hard Drugs
Prevalence of Usage in America
Public Policy Questions Ahead

New Federal Drive on Hard Drugs

President's Concern With Resurgence of Heroin

The federal government is preparing another assault on drug abuse. In a post-Christmas statement issued at his Vail, Colo., vacation retreat, President Ford endorsed a Domestic Council study calling for new efforts to stem the rising tide of heroin addiction and the abuse of other hard drugs. The President said he would send Congress a message outlining his anti-drug proposals in the next few months.

Whether this new offensive will reach the proportions of President Nixon's celebrated 1971 “war” on drugs is not yet clear. Nixon characterized heroin addiction as “Public Enemy No. 1” and declared “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in the United States, then it will surely destroy us.” In the wake of his declaration, the federal government set up a host of new antidrug agencies for treatment and prevention, and for law enforcement. Federal spending on drug programs doubled in a single year.

Ford's statement, though more moderate in tone than Nixon's, nevertheless had a similar ring of urgency. The President said: “Drug abuse is a tragic national problem which saps our nation's vitality. It is also a major contributor to our growing crime rate. All of us must redouble our efforts to combat this problem.” The Ford administration's priorities, however, appear to differ sharply from those of its predecessor. The Nixon “war” was all-encompassing, hitting at users and sellers of “soft” drugs, such as marijuana, as well as traffickers in narcotics. The Domestic Council study, on which President Ford will base his recommendations to Congress, makes careful distinctions between different kinds of drugs according to their potential harm to individuals and society.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Drug Abuse and Trafficking
Aug. 06, 2021  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 24, 2019  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 14, 2018  Opioid Addiction
Jun. 29, 2017  Drug Abuse
Oct. 07, 2016  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 19, 2016  Drug Abuse
May 02, 2014  Treating Addiction
Jun. 03, 2011  Teen Drug Use
Jun. 12, 2009  Legalizing Marijuana Updated
Dec. 12, 2008  Mexico's Drug War
Feb. 09, 2007  Combating Addiction
Jun. 02, 2006  War on Drugs
Jul. 15, 2005  Methamphetamine
Jul. 28, 2000  Drug-Policy Debate
Nov. 20, 1998  Drug Testing
Jan. 06, 1995  Treating Addiction
Mar. 19, 1993  War on Drugs
Feb. 23, 1990  Does the War on Drugs Need a New Strategy?
May 20, 1988  The Business of Illicit Drugs
Jan. 23, 1987  Experimental Drugs
Feb. 08, 1985  The Fight Against Drug Smuggling
Aug. 27, 1982  Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties
Jun. 11, 1982  Prescription-Drug Abuse
Jan. 23, 1976  Changing U.S. Drug Policy
Dec. 13, 1972  World Drug Traffic
May 27, 1970  Heroin Addiction
Jan. 27, 1965  Psychotoxic Drugs
Jul. 18, 1962  Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment
Sep. 05, 1956  Control of Drug Addiction
Mar. 28, 1951  Drug Addiction
Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse