The Urban Inquirer
A blog produced by students at Queens College, CUNY
Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ and Statistics

Reagan carried on Nixon’s legacy of his coined term of “war on drugs”, by adding policies to be apart of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. In addition to this, Reagan implemented the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1988 to regulate and ‘coordinate’ drug related policy within the government. Reagan really sought to reinforce Nixon’s “War on Drugs” policies, which created a massive increase in arrests for nonviolent drug related crimes. These policies clearly lead to a racial disparity between white and colored neighborhoods where a disproportionate amount of African Americans and Latinos were arrested for drug crimes.


One of the major critiques of his policies, were the harsh sentences for these drug related crimes. In 1986 Kentucky had some of the harshest sentences for drug offenses, as they embraced “mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.” For just possession of drugs, first offenses got up 2 to 10 years in prison and were fined up to $20,000. If that doesn’t look like a government run money making machine, I’m not sure what does. The biggest issue I have come across with drug crimes, is how Marijuana is a drug that does effect brain development, but isn’t like drugs such as PCP, which are proven to make people violent and can actually pose a threat to society. Marijuana on the other hand is shown to have a much different effect on peoples mood. According to The British Journal of Psychiatry: “The acute response to cannabis generally includes euphoria and feelings of detachment and relaxation…” Obviously this is not me advocating for the use of Marijuana, since it still has a lot of negative affects on the brain, but it is proven to be a drug that doesn’t pose a harm to anyone but the user of it.


In comparison to Kentucky in 1986, California had the lightest sentencing on drug related crimes which would include anywhere between $30 to $500 fines and/or 15 to 180 days in jail. In the present day, you find the disparities of drug related crimes even more ridiculous among state lines. If you are in the state of Arizona, marijuana is completely legalized, however, if you simply step over the line directly north of Arizona to Utah, you can be arrested for the possession of marijuana. I find it crazy how inconsistent these drug crimes are across the country. In conclusion, I think there needs to be a massive overhaul of laws against drugs, since the current laws are outdated tremendously, and are found to disproportionately target certain racial groups.




3 Comments to “Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ and Statistics”

  1. Joel Mendez says:

    I really like this blog because of what your standing for in a more prominent manner. Even though you aren’t advocating drug use , what you say is fact. I know of many people who use marijuana for certain things and illnesses, along with recreational use, who are very successful and good people. This nation and the government putting people in prison for that long just because of someone who is smoking is all unfair politics. We should be focusing on the more serious crimes in this nation.

  2. Sekai Dolin says:

    This is very good and insightful. I like how you mentioned the history of drug possession and what it is in the present day. You then went on to talk about the inconsistency of prosecuting drug crimes, which is true also.

  3. Dale Vernor says:


    My name is Dale I came across your website today and wanted to see if you were interested in adding an infographic that I created. I think it would go well with the article on the war on drugs.

    This could make your article more shareable across social media platforms, which could bring more traffic to your website. This would also benefit me as well. Let me know if you are interested and I can send it over for you check out.

    Thank you for your time.


    Dale V

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