President Bill Clinton’s administration continued with the drug war approach, increasing the annual budget to $17 billion by 1999.

Although the House of Representatives passed the Drug Dealer Liability Act in 1999 and the Protecting Our Children from Drugs Act in 2000, both measures failed to pass in the Senate. The first law would have imposed civil liability on drug dealers for the direct or indirect harm caused by the use of the drugs they distributed. The second measure would have required mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers who involved children under the age of 18 or who distributed near schools.

The cumulative tough approach to drugs carried out during the previous two decades saw the federal prison budget rise by 1,350% by the time George W. Bush took office in 2001, and was reflected in the increase in the U.S. prison population from 1.27 million to 2.2 million, approximately 25% of whom were drug offenders. While no new drug laws were passed under President Bush, the budget to combat drugs continued to increase, reaching $21.7 billion by 2007.

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Posted by Anaïs Faure