Prosecutorial Indiscretion
The New York Minute

Crimes and Misdemeanors

There's criminal activity afoot, and someone has to keep track of it.  That someone is yours truly.


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Rich Paul

Question for you:

The 18th Amendment authorized Prohibition.

Which amendment authorized the war on drugs?

NY Law Guy

I don't believe any amendment to the Constitution was contemplated for the war on drugs. Rather, the legislative basis is in Art. 1, Section 8:

"The Congress shall have power
to . . . provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; . . .To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; . . . And To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Exercising their authority, the "war" on drugs has actually been "authorized" by a number of acts of congress and some executive actions as well.

This is just a nutshell of the legal framework. . .

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (Public Law No: 100-690) - created ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy);

Executive Order # 12880 (1993) and Executive Order ## 12992 and 13023 (1996) Made ONDCP the "drug czar";

The Media Campaign Act of 1998
(part of Public Law 109-469) lets the feds do mass advertising to prevent drug abuse);

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Public Law No: 103-322) (amended the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968);

The Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 (Public Law No: 109-469) (reauthorized ONDCP);

The Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 (more fun with Public Law 109-469) (gave ONDCP more authority - expanded HIDTA units throughout the country [High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas] - expanded the Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center [CTAC] and provided legislative authority for the "President's Council on Counter-Narcotics" Also requires more cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies in combating drug crimes.

Rich Paul

It doesn't seem like the drug war is either "necessary" or "proper" to any of the very few enumerated powers of Congress.

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