Although Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1971, the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914. Less well-known today is that the Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 2–10-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the "Drug czar" in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the "war on drugs". DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term "war on drugs".
The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860.
In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act along with the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption on a national level.
In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created. Established in the Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930 (46 Stat. 585)
In 1933 the federal prohibition for alcohol was repealed.
In 1935 the president Franklin D. Roosevelt, publicly supported the adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The New York Times used the headline ROOSEVELT ASKS NARCOTIC WAR AID
In 1937, the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act was passed. Several scholars have claimed that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry, largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family. These scholars argue that with the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry. These scholars believe that Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, United States Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont's new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.
On October 27, 1970, Congress passes the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which, among other things, categorizes controlled substances based on their medicinal use and potential for addiction.
In 1971. Two congressmen released an explosive report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen were addicted to heroin, and the Nixon administration coined the term War on Drugs.
In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
As early as 1982, Vice President George H. W. Bush and his aides began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts.The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988, which mandated a national anti-drug media campaign for youth, which would later become the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug czar, and it was first implemented in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush, and raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993. These activities subsequently funded by the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998 formally creating the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 codified the campaign at 21 U.S.C. § 1708."The War On Drugs Has Failed", said a self-appointed 19-member commission on June 2, 2011, including former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mexico's former President Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil's ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, as well as the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and the then-current Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou. The panel also featured prominent Latin American writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, the EU's former foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and George Schultz, a former U.S. Secretary of State. Rafael Lemaitre, ONDCP Communications Director, issued a response the same day stating that President Obama's policy on drugs is a marked departure from previous approaches to drug policy. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin also released the first ever National Prevention Strategy. Two weeks later, former President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explicitly endorsing the commission's initiative. The U.S. federal government spent over $15 billion in 2010 on the War on Drugs, a rate of about $500 per second.May 21, 2012 the U.S Government published an updated version of its Drug Policy The director of ONDCP stated simultaneously that this policy is something different than "War on Drugs":
The U.S Government see the policy as a “third way” approach to drug control one that is based on the results of a huge investment in research from some of the world’s preeminent scholars on disease of substance abuse.
The policy does not see drug legalization as the “silver bullet” solution to drug control.
It is not a policy where success is measured by the number of arrests made or prisons built.At the same meeting was a declaration signed by the representatives of Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States in line with this: "Our approach must be a balanced one, combining effective enforcement to restrict the supply of drugs, with efforts to reduce demand and build recovery; supporting people to live a life free of addiction"