Harrison Act | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, also known as the Harrison Act, was a federal law passed in the United States in 1914 aimed at regulating and taxing the production, importation, and distribution of opiates and cocaine.

Under the Harrison Act, individuals and businesses that dealt with these substances were required to register with the federal government and pay a tax on their activities. The Act also made it illegal to distribute these substances except in accordance with the regulations established by the law.

The Harrison Act was initially intended as a public health measure to combat addiction to opiates and cocaine. Still, it was eventually used as a tool in the criminal justice system to prosecute individuals who possessed or distributed these substances without proper registration and taxation.

The Harrison Act was the first major federal law to regulate and criminalize drug use in the United States, and it set the stage for the criminalization of other drugs in the future. Today, the regulation and criminalization of drug use remain significant issues in the criminal justice system.

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Last Modified: 03/06/2023


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