Drug policy of the United States

Drug use has increased in all categories since prohibition[1] except that opium use is at a fraction of its peak level. The big decline in use of opium started already after the Harrison Act of 1914.[2] Use of heroin peaked between 1969 and 1971, cocaine, between 1987 and 1989 and marijuana between 1978 and 1979.[3]

Between 1972 and 1988, the use of cocaine increased more than fivefold.[4] The usage patterns of the current two most prevalent drugs, amphetamines and ecstasy, have shown similar gains.[1]

Despite the Reagan administration's high-profile public pronouncements, secretly, many senior officials of the Reagan administration illegally trained and armed the Nicaraguan Contras, which they funded by the shipment of large quantities of cocaine into the United States using U.S. government aircraft and U.S. military facilities.[5][6] Funding for the Contras was also obtained through the illegal sale of weaponry to Iran.[7][8] When this practice was discovered and condemned in the media, it was referred to as the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1996, 56% of California voters voted for Proposition 215, legalizing the growing and use of marijuana for medical purposes. This created significant legal and policy tensions between federal and state governments. Courts have since decided that state laws in conflict with a federal law about cannabis are not valid. Cannabis is restricted by federal law (see Gonzales v. Raich).

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