The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the American drug enforcement agency, recognizes that its creation resulted from the passage of discriminatory and racist drug laws.
During the latest edition of his video series “ Stories from the Collection“, DEA museum officials discussed the origins of federal drug prohibition and how the agency was ultimately created in conjunction with the punitive policies that were enacted in the early 20th century.
When the government began taking steps to regulate certain substances like opium, “the public view of addiction changed,” the museum historian said.
“The increase in non-medical use – as well as racial, ethnic and class prejudice – has affected public opinion,” they added. “What had been a medical condition became deviant or criminal. This change led to a wave of laws against heroin, marijuana and cocaine. »
To enforce the new laws, a new agency called Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was then created under the aegis of the Treasury Department. The FBN was the predecessor of the DEA.
It is well established that the launching of the War on Drugs – and the way it has continued to be fought – was and remains largely racially and politically motivated. The Library of Congress documented how racist and stigmatizing depictions of cannabis in the media were used to reinforce prohibition, for example.
The director of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Nora Volkow said separately last year that research has firmly demonstrated that the criminalization of drugs has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color.
The DEA has taken steps to at least support research into controlled substances like cannabis and psilocybin, increasing annual cultivation quotas to meet study demands and licensing new cannabis cultivators.