Uniform State Laws

The Narcotics Bureau had similarly pressured state legislatures to enact extreme drug laws, promulgating a Uniform Narcotic Drug Act through the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1932, inducing the passage of tough marijuana measures after 1937, and promoting ''Little Boggs Acts'' in the late 1950s. Some of the latter laws contained penalties even more severe than the federal law, and it became common practice for Anslinger's men and local prosecutors to shuffle drug offenders into either state or federal courts, depending on where they would receive the harsher sentences.

Federal lawmakers were somewhat inhibited, in Anslinger's day, by the fact that federal drug laws were based solely on Congress's power to tax. States could enact penalties based on their general powers to punish crime, and some even prescribed punishment for the mere status of being an ad-dict—until the Supreme Court ruled that practice out in Robinson v. California (1963). Little attention was paid to ''treatment'' or ''rehabilitation''; addicts should either give up their wicked habits, and their spreading of the vice to others, or they should be isolated from society by ''quarantine'' somewhere. Toward the end of Anslinger's tenure, attention turned to ''civil commitment,'' which sometimes in effect made the quarantine a life-sentence, at least when lawmakers provided scanty resources for rehabilitating those thus committed.

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