Since the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914, the federal approach to drug abuse control has included a variety of ways for reducing both the supply of, and demand for, illicit drugs. At first the supply and demand reduction strategies were grounded in the traditional deterrence model: Though legislation and criminal penalties, individuals would be discouraged from using drugs; by setting an example of traffickers, the government could force potential dealers to seek out other economic pursuits. In time, other components were added such as enforcement, treatment, education, and pre-venting for the would-be user.
During the 1970s it became apparent that the war on drugs was winning few, if any, battles. New avenues for supply and demand reduction were added such as Coast Guard, Customs, and Drug Enforcement Administration operatives charged with intercepting drug shipments into the United States from foreign ports. On the surface, none of these strategies seemed to have an effect on illicit drug use.
In 1988 The White House anti-drug policy was "zero-tolerance". Zero tolerance meant: (1) that if there were no drug abusers there would be no drug problem, (2) that the market for drugs is created not only by availability, but by demand, (3) that drug abuse starts as a willful act, (4) that the perception that drug users are powerless to act against the drug availability and peer pressure is an erroneous one, (5) that most illegal drug users can choose to their behaviors and must be held responsible if they do not, (6) that individual freedom does not include the right to self and societal destruction, (7) that public tolerance for drug abuse must be reduced to zero (Drug Abuse Report, April 19, 1988: 6; Drug Abuse Report, May 3,1988: 1-3;U.S. Department of Transportation, 1988). .
The current drug policy in the United States is reminiscent of alcohol Prohibition. With the enactment of the Volstead Act in 1919, America embarked on a social experiment known as Prohibition.