Why Are Some Drugs Banned by Law

In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” He significantly increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and enforced measures such as mandatory convictions and arrest warrants. Many of the drugs currently being prosecuted began life as beneficial medical therapies, such as opiates, cocaine, MDMA, and amphetamines. They were often available over the counter in pharmacies or through authorized vendors. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes criminal drug prohibition. Not only has prohibition manifestly failed as a drug control strategy, but it subjects law-abiding citizens to arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for what they do in private. By trying to enforce drug laws, the government is violating the fundamental rights to privacy and personal autonomy guaranteed by our Constitution. The ACLU believes that people should not be punished if they don`t hurt others — even if they hurt themselves. There are better ways to control drug use, ways that will ultimately lead to a healthier, freer and less criminal society. Most people assume that drugs are illegal because they are dangerous. But the reasons are not related to their relative risk or harm.

In some countries, there are fears that drug campaigns and organized crime may be used as a cover for fraudulent officials who are themselves linked to drug trafficking in order to eliminate their competitors. In the United States, opponents have accused the head of the federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, of accepting bribes from the Mafia to issue a ban and create a black market. [49] More recently, in the Philippines, a death squad killer told author Niko Vorobyov that he was paid by military officers to eliminate drug traffickers who did not pay “tax.” [50] Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines fought a bloody war on drugs that may have led to up to 29,000 extrajudicial executions. [51] The ban is primarily enforced by air and naval forces patrolling known smuggling areas. From South America to the United States, most drugs cross the Caribbean Sea or the Eastern Pacific, usually in “go-fast” boats carrying drug cargoes and engines and nothing else. Drugs have also been smuggled into makeshift submarines. In 2015, a submarine carrying 12,000 pounds of cocaine was seized by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Central America. This is the largest drug seizure in the United States to date.

[65] At the height of the war on drugs hysteria in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a movement emerged that sought a new approach to drug policy. In 1987, Arnold Trebach and Kevin Zeese founded the Drug Policy Foundation, calling it “a loyal opposition to the war on drugs.” Prominent conservatives such as William Buckley and Milton Friedman had long campaigned for an end to drug prohibition, as had civil rights activists such as longtime ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser. In the late 1980s, they were joined by Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, federal judge Robert Sweet, Princeton professor Ethan Nadelmann, and other activists, academics, and policymakers. Another factor to consider is the appeal of forbidden fruits. For young people, often attracted by taboos, legal drugs can be less tempting than they are today. This is the experience of the Netherlands: after the Dutch government decriminalized marijuana in 1976 so that it could be sold and consumed openly in small quantities, use steadily declined – especially among teenagers and young adults. Before decriminalization, 10% of Dutch 17- and 18-year-olds used marijuana. By 1985 this figure had fallen to 6.5%.

The attack on nitrous oxide is even stranger, as this gas has been used for over 100 years to control women`s pain during childbirth and for surgical pain management with minimal signs of damage. But when a few footballers are filmed inhaling a nitrous oxide ball, it becomes a threat to public health. Typically, the press renamed it “hippie crack” to scare people – what could I do scarier for older readers than a hippie invasion on crack? In truth, the effect of nitrous oxide has nothing to do with crack cocaine and no self-respecting hippie would ever use it. Still, it seems likely that it will be banned with any other psychotropic substance that is not exempt. While it is impossible to predict exactly how drug use patterns would change in a regulated manufacturing and distribution system, the iron rules of prohibition are that 1) illicit markets are controlled by producers, not consumers, and 2) prohibition encourages the sale and use of stronger and more dangerous forms of drugs. The terms relegalization, legalization, and decriminalization are used by different authors with very different meanings, which can be confusing if the claims are not specified. Here are some variations: The best evidence of the failure of prohibition is the government`s current war on drugs. Instead of implementing a strategy of prevention, research, education and social programs aimed at solving problems such as persistent poverty, long-term unemployment and the deteriorating living conditions in our inner cities, this war has used a law enforcement strategy.

As this military approach continues to devour billions of taxpayers` money and land tens of thousands of people in prison, illicit drug trafficking thrives, violence escalates, and drug abuse continues to weaken lives. Added to this is the largely uncontrolled spread of the AIDS virus among drug addicts, their sexual partners and offspring. In the United States, the Harrison Act was passed in 1914, requiring sellers of opiates and cocaine to obtain a license. Although it was originally intended to regulate trade, it quickly became a prohibition law and eventually set a precedent that any prescription of a narcotic given by a doctor or pharmacist – even as part of the medical treatment of addiction – constituted a conspiracy to violate Harrison`s Law. In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled in Doremus that Harrison`s law was constitutional and in Webb that doctors could prescribe narcotics not only for maintenance. [16] In Jin Fuey Moy v. United States,[30] the Court confirmed that this was a violation of the Harrison Act even if a doctor prescribed a narcotic to an addict and was therefore prosecuted. [31] This also applies to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Soon, however, licensing authorities stopped issuing licenses, effectively banning medicines. [ref. Although the possession of some medicines is illegal, many governments regulate the manufacture, distribution, marketing, sale and use of certain medicines, for example through a prescription system.