In 1969, Richard M. Nixon declared that drugs were America’s number one enemy as his administration officially launched what would be known as the U.S. ‘war on drugs’.
As heroin use was on the rise, primarily among returning Vietnam War veterans, the Nixon administration focused most of its resources on that particular narcotic, especially to reduce crime linked to drug use. On the treatment side, Nixon created the first federal methadone program (see Treating Heroin Addiction), and dedicated 75% of the total drug budget to treatment and rehabilitation.
In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was created and became the main legal foundation for drug regulation in the U.S. It consolidated all previous laws regulating the production and distribution of narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and any other chemical substance considered to have a potential for abuse. To enforce the Act, a new agency was created in 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), into which the former BNDD was merged.