Joe Biden and Drug Control: A More Complete Picture (Part 2—the 1980s)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Sarah Brady Siff, a visiting assistant professor at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, in affiliation with the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC). She continues the series on Joe Biden’s drug policy she started last week.

It was an election year—1980—but Senator Joe Biden was not up for reelection. His interest and expertise in drug policy were sharper than ever, and his membership on the Foreign Relations and  Judiciary committees (where he chaired subcommittees on European affairs and criminal justice) enabled him to pursue the drugs issue from both the international/supply side and the domestic/demand side. 

Biden had been immersed in international Cold War politics while working on agreements with the Soviet Union and others to curb the nuclear arms race (the SALT treaties). At the same time, he accepted the duty of oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) starting in 1978, as the first experimental decade of massive federal funding for law enforcement was drawing to a close. Though setbacks would occur, the early 1980s presented Biden with a unique opportunity to create more robust federal drug control. 

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