Harrison Narcotic Act Research Paper

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The Harrison Narcotic Act was proposed to Congress by Dr. Hamilton Wright. This particular Act was not made to criminalize the use of any drug. However, it was considered a tax law because there was a tax imposed on individuals that made or sold narcotics. Suppliers had the responsibility of registering with the Bureau of International Revenue once a year along with paying a one-dollar fee. Since medical professionals prescribed narcotics, they also had to register and pay the fee annually or they would be punished. Medical professionals could only prescribe these drugs for medical reasons and they had to possess records of distribution to patients for two years. However, it was not considered appropriate to prescribe a narcotic drug to treat an addiction, which was troubling for both medical professionals and addicts. The Harrison Act contributed to a large number of medical professionals being either indicted on narcotic charges or being forced to face prison sentences. This particular Act also transformed the way in which narcotics could be …show more content…

Hamilton Wright included racism within his proposal. Specifically, he proposed that African American Southerners snorted cocaine, and this caused African American men to rape white women. This caused fear to increase in the individuals of Congress causing them to believe that the passing of the Harrison Act was essential. This shows how relevant racism was during this time period. Another aspect that is historically significant is the fact that this law did not criminalize the use of narcotics, but only taxed the drugs. Throughout this time period the government believed that Congress was not legally capable of monitoring possession and use because of the Constitution. However, they did believe that they had to power to impose taxes to decrease drug use instead of imposing federal criminal

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