by Hunter Dublin | October 17, 2022
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum historian Kasey Sease, Ph.D., acknowledged that racially discriminatory drug laws contributed to the agency's establishment in an episode of "Stories from the Collection" by the DEA Museum.
Congress approved the Harrison Drugs Act in 1914, which mandated that narcotics producers, sellers, and distributors register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This was before the Marihuana Tax Act or the establishment of the DEA.
The Bureau of Narcotics, which served as the forerunner to the current DEA, was the first drug law enforcement organization authorized by Congress in 1930.
The Nixon government criminalized drug use solely to destabilize Black neighborhoods and the anti-war movement, according to a 1994 comment from John Ehrlichman, then-President Richard Nixon's main domestic policy advisor, rediscovered in 2016.
"You want to know what the real point of all this was? Dan Baum reported Ehrlichman as saying, "He inquired with the directness of a man who, after public humiliation and a stint in federal jail, had little left to protect.
The antiwar left and Black people were the Nixon White House's two main adversaries throughout the 1968 campaign and after that. Do you get what I'm saying? We were aware that we couldn't outlaw being anti-war or Black. Still, by making the public link hippies with marijuana and Black people with heroin and then severely criminalizing both, we were able to destroy those communities.
We could demonize them on the evening news every night, arrest their leaders, search their houses, end their meetings, etc. Have we been lying about the drugs before? Naturally, we did.
The DEA estimated in June that there would be 6,606 federal cannabis arrests in 2021, up from 3,992 in 2020.