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How Heroin Addiction's Rural Spread Changed the War on Drugs

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, America’s inner cities were wracked by an epidemic of heroin addiction and the crime that went with it. New York State responded with harsh drug laws, including mandatory minimum sentences up to life in prison for selling just one ounce of heroin. Soon, other states and the federal government adopted similar laws, and the nation’s prisons filled up with non-violent drug offenders, mostly young black men.

From time to time over the past 40 years, efforts were made to treat heroin addiction as a public health instead of a crime problem. But they were not successful.


More on the Story

Senate Passes Broad Bill to Combat Drug Abuse The New York Times
White House proposes new funding for heroin, prescription opioid abuse The Washington Post
How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America The New York Times
40 Years After 'War on Drugs,' Heroin Becomes a Public Health Crisis The Takeaway
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Heroin, Survivor of War on Drugs, Returns With New Face The New York Times
How did U.S. drug laws go so awry? Retro Report examines 40 years of heroin in America. The Week