1906 Pure Food and Drug Act: The First Step in USA Drug Laws Enforcement - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  991 Words
Date:  2023-04-26


Between 1906 and today, legislations have been enacted to enforce drug laws in the United States of America. One such legislation was the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. This was the first consumer protection law enacted by Congress. This resulted in the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. (Sacco, 2014) The Pure Food and Drug Act prohibited selling of adulterated or misbranded food and drugs. The enactment was triggered by a public outcry about the health and safety of the consumers. This was after reading "The Jungle" revealed the unsanitary behaviors in the production of meat. The Act was received well by the consumers as it promoted the safety of the products they consume. The regulation affected not only the food but also the preparation, packaging, labeling, selling as well as advertising of the drugs.

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Harrison Tax Act

The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was a law enacted by the American Federal government to regulate the production, importation as well as the distribution of coca products and opiates through taxation. The regulation was approved on December 17, 1914 (Lesser, 2014). The physicians, therefore, were allowed to prescribe the narcotics for normal treatment and not for treating the addiction. The regulation was in effect from 1915 and had an impact on drug/alcohol control. In 1917, the regulation was interpreted further, requiring physicians not to prescribe opiates to addicts as addiction was not categorized as a disease. Some of the physicians were defiant of the regulation, and some were arrested and even imprisoned. The physicians learned with time to follow the regulation. The regulation was not initially welcomed both by the physicians as well as the citizens. Still, with time they have learned to use the narcotics for disease treatment and not addiction maintenance.

Marihuana Tax Act

The Act was enacted in August 1937, taxing the sale of cannabis. It was enacted by the 75th Congress of the United States. The Act, however, did not prohibit people from selling or using marijuana. The Act was opposed in 1969 but repealed in 1970, the Congress (Sacco, 2014). The Act helped in controlling the use of marijuana through taxation.

Anti-Drug Abuse Act

The United States Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988. The Act imposed mandatory penalties on all the drug trafficking offenders (Sacco, 2014). The penalties were applied to all the sellers as well as illegal users of narcotics. One of the drugs targeted by the legislation was crack cocaine, which was highly preferred by the majority of the cocaine users as it was cheaper than powder cocaine. The legislation significantly helped in the control of drug use in the United States of America, and the people responded positively to the actions taken by the government.

(Table containing the legislations and year enacted)

Year Legislation

1906 Pure Food and Drug Act

1914 Harrison Tax Act

1937 Marihuana Tax Act

1938 Food, Drug, Cosmetic Act

1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act



The 1938 food, drug, and cosmetic act were passed by congress to facilitate the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics in terms of how people use and handle drugs. The act was legislated to ensure that there was safety in handling and sale of food, drug, and cosmetics (Cruse, 2019). The act was meant to reduce death among the patients where they were purchasing the drugs over the counter, causing deaths among the people for wrong drugs. The act was replacing the earlier 1906 act that had weaknesses in terms of handling of the drugs. The act regulates how patients and health officers handle drugs to ensure there is the safety of how drugs are handled to increase safety.

The FDCA law gave the food and drug administration agency authority to control the handling of food and drugs to ensure that all the stakeholders are responsible for the actions, and they follow the law (Armstrong & Staman, 2018). Drug manufacturers were required to comply with the new laws where they were required to regularly review the quality of their drugs, and they produced drugs that were only approved by the FDA. The new law also regulated how advertisements are done to ensure that patients and the public get the right information from advertisements.

Assessment of Its Impact

The impact of the 1936 food, drugs, and cosmetic act is that it established a clear guideline on how the food and drugs were supposed to be handled to improve safety. Drug manufacturers were required to meet new standards in meeting the safety of their drugs and patients that use the drugs (Cruse, 2019). The manufacturers were required to include instructions on how the food and drugs needed to be handled to improve safety. The handling of food and cosmetic was enhanced to increase their safety where all handlers were required to meet safety standards before being allowed to sell the food and cosmetic to customers. FDA was given authority to carry out an inspection to ensure all the stakeholders complied with the new laws.

Public Responses

The people complied with the new law, where they viewed the new law to be meant to improve their safety by improving the standards of how they handle food, drugs, and cosmetics. (Armstrong & Staman, 2018) The drug manufacturers had to comply with the new law to be licensed to operate after the previous drug act was revoked. The people, including the patients, also complied with the new act because there were consequences of not following the new laws, and they could not purchase commodities without meeting the requirements.


Armstrong, K. B., & Staman, J. A. (2018). Enforcement of the food, drug, and cosmetic act: Select legal issues. Congressional Research Service.

Cruse, C. (2019). Food Fraud and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: Bridging a Disconnect. Food & Drug LJ, 74, 322.

Lesser, J. (2014). Today is the 100th Anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. Retrieved 27 March 2020, from https://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/today-100th-anniversary-harrison-narcotics-tax-act

Sacco, L. (2014). Drug Enforcement in the United States: History, Policy, and Trends. Retrieved 27 March 2020, from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43749.pdf

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1906 Pure Food and Drug Act: The First Step in USA Drug Laws Enforcement - Essay Sample. (2023, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/1906-pure-food-and-drug-act-the-first-step-in-usa-drug-laws-enforcement-essay-sample

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