International border intrigue has always been a part of Blaine's ambiance. Smuggling became an underground industry here in 1919 with the passage of the Volstead Act banning liquor sale and use in the United States. Rum-running and border jumping thrived along Blaine's shared coastline with British Columbia, and continued until Prohibition was repealed in 1933 (coincidentally the US Congressional law which re-legalized alcohol is named the Blaine Act). In the late twentieth century smuggling again reached a zenith as criminals in neighboring British Columbia became major exporters of high grade marihuana. More punitive U.S. drug laws provided a haven to hundreds of lower mainland Brisitsh Columbia cannabis 'grow operations'. As the production of 'BC Bud' coalesced into competing groups of criminal organizations across BC, a sometimes dangerous game of cat and mouse played out along Blaine's border with Canada. Smugglers used every technique from backpacks to helicopter aerial drops to push tons of the marihuana crop into the US, while a growing phalanx of local, state, provincial and federal law enforcement from both sides of the border sought ways to stem the tide. Smuggling of drugs, weapons, and money, and human trafficking continues in the area. However, following the terrorist attacks of 2001, the addition of hundreds of federal agents and millions of dollars in enforcement technology have pushed more of the smuggling activity away from Blaine and into the rugged interior of Washington.
With its location at the intersection of an international border, a major interstate freeway, and the Pacific Ocean, Blaine is frequently in the news. In 1970 Blaine became the site of the first invasion of the contiguous United States since the War of 1812. In May 9, 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, a group of people from Canada came to Peace Arch Park in Blaine to protest the U.S. military actions in Cambodia and the death of students demonstrating at Kent State. A group of the protesters (size estimates vary between 50 and 600) swarmed from Canada past US Customs and Immigration officers across the border into downtown Blaine, vandalizing storefronts, cars and a local memorial dedicated to Blaine men who had fought and died in earlier wars. The protestors retreated back to the border after burning a U.S. flag and fighting with Blaine residents. Once back at the Peace Arch, the protesters vandalized the monument. This low point in international and local relations between the friendly neighboring countries and communities has never been repeated.
The Peace Arch is occasionally still used as a focal point for peaceful demonstrations and debate, but the very vast majority of the millions of people who visit or pass by the Park each year remember it for its beauty and peaceful shoreline setting.