Harvey Wiley, the Chief Chemist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led the crusade to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the government rewarded him for his efforts by making him the first commissioner of the Bureau of Chemistry, the predecessor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The 1906 act was meant to inform, not prohibit, but its call for truth in labelling fell victim to subjective judgment calls. Cannabis now featured labels calling it addictive and dangerous, yet other products also incurred Wiley’s wrath. The Chemistry Bureau chief had issues with saccharin, sodium benzoate, alcohol and drugs in general, and he famously sued Coca-Cola to prohibit its use of caffeine. According to the FDA website, the newly created Referee Board of Consulting Scientific Experts sought to reign Wiley in, and a 1911 Supreme Court ruling and other judicial cases further restricted his powers. Wiley resigned in 1912, after which, the bureau surprisingly devoted even more effort to regulate drugs.
Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s grandson, Senator Nelson Aldrich, once said "the liberty of all the people of the United States" would be undermined by "chemists of the Agriculture Department." The statement was a none-too-subtle jab at Wiley.