of marijuana use—were considered. To address these relationships, data from the1975 to 2006 General Social Surveys were used.
The history of drugs and drug policies in the U.S., including differing experiences(e.g., use, rhetoric) for different cohorts (Bertram et al., 1996; Inciardi, 1999; Musto,1999), suggest that period and cohort effects should be important for drug-relatedviews. Period effects refer to changes due to events or processes that occurredduring a historical era. Cohort effects result from distinct experiences encountered by people born at similar points in time and who lived through common situationsand eras. Shared experiences shape attitudes, in aggregate, among those who livedthrough analogous things; different cohorts may encounter the same experience andreact to it differently because of their distinct histories (Firebaugh, 1997).
Period effects are likely with regard to drug-related attitudes. Such variations inviews are especially relevant for the past few decades, given the most recent warson drugs, but shifts in views and governmental responses to drugs have occurredover time, including in the actions of the federal government and presidentialadministrations.
The Harrison Act (1914) and Marijuana Tax Act (1937), whichcriminalized narcotics and cocaine and set the stage for the criminalization of marijuana, respectively, were passed during times of public intolerance of drug use.Laws increasing penalties for drug use and traf
cking also increased during this period and through the 1950s (Inciardi, 1999; Musto, 1999). However, the 1960sand 1970s saw greater tolerance of and increased drug use among Americans (withdrug use peaking in the late 1970s) (Kandel, Griesler, Lee, Davies, & Schaffsan,2001; Musto, 1999). Yet in 1968, as Musto (1999, p. 248) noted, “. . . Nixon waselected President on a platform of restoring law and order. No President has equaled Nixon’s antagonism to drug abuse, and he took an active role in organizing thefederal and state governments to
ght the onslaught of substance abuse.”
Nixoninitiated a “war on drugs” that emphasized law enforcement, prevention, andtreatment (Musto, 1999).After Nixon’s resignation in 1974, the next two presidents were less concernedabout drugs. President Ford did not believe that elimination of drug use was possibleand federal policy re
ected this stance (Beckett, 1997; Musto, 1999). Ford wasfollowed by President Carter, who supported federal decriminalization of possessionof small amounts of marijuana. However, it did not occur because of a politicalscandal involving a Carter assistant who favored this policy (Bertram et al., 1996;Musto, 1999).