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December 17 clues the 100-year anniversary the the Harrison Narcotics taxation Act, generally taken into consideration the beginning of the oppressive, expensive, and also devastating medicine war.

You are watching: What did the 1914 harrison act do?

This year, an ext than eight major U.S. Cities will be stop demonstrations this day trying to gain one an easy message promoted: finish the battle on drugs. However what specifically is the Harrison Narcotics tax Act and how did it discriminate against people who use specific drugs?

In the early on 1900s the U.S. To be becoming vital voice in international affairs. Concerns surrounding minus consumption and also production began to cause major problems globally, and the U.S. Declared a need for an international opium conference. From this meeting came the very first international opium agreement from the Hague convention in 1912, which “aimed to settle the opium difficulties of the far east” by eliminating minus supplies.

Two year later, led by Secretary the State wilhelm Jennings Bryan, the Narcotics taxes Act surfaced in Congress. The supporters of the bill stated very small about the dangerous impacts of addiction, instead emphasizing the prestige of upholding the new international commitment to eradicate opium.

In fact, the act on its surface was no prohibitive in ~ all. It was “an plot to administer for the registration of, v collectors of internal revenue, and also to impose a special taxation upon all persons that produce, import, manufacture, compound, transaction in, dispense, sell, distribute, or offer away minus or coca leaves, their salts, derivatives, or preparations, and also for various other purposes.”

Almost immediately, damaging impacts were felt native the bill’s passing. A vaguely worded clause in the bill declared that doctors can no longer prescribe opiate-based drugs, since “addiction was not a disease.” This led to many doctors gift targeted by police and also eventually imprisoned. In turn, the cloudiness of wording resulted in underground sector formation, resulting in criminal involvement by both users and also producers the opiates and also cocaine. Police enforcement began to walk up, and also quality of life because that those utilizing opiates and cocaine started to plummet.

The government likewise began an aggressively racism propaganda attack versus cocaine-using black color Americans and also opium-using “Chinamen.” Hysterical media stories declared that white women using these building material were running off with males of different races. Medical professionals were targeted for helping those in need, and also citizens who formerly were clinical patients suddenly came to be criminals, forced to hang the end in unscrupulous locations to achieve their drugs of choice. In one dropped swoop, the Harrison Act collection the foundations of the drug war as we know it today.

This December 17, watch around and see that no much has changed. Doctors are still target for providing pain medications. Details people using particular drugs are still treated together criminals and also denied clinical treatment because that addiction. Racial disparities in drug associated arrests are a bigger problem than ever.

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It is time to gain outside and show the you are fed up v the condition quo. Recent marijuana legalization laws display hope, however we still have actually a long way to go.