The Banning of Controlled Substances and Effect in 3 Key Sectors
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) places all substances which were in some manner regulated under existing federal law into one of five schedules. This placement is based upon the substance’s medical use, the potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability.
The Drug Enforcement Administration states that in determining into which schedule a drug or other substance should be placed, or whether a substance should be decontrolled or rescheduled, certain factors are required to be considered. These factors are listed in Section 201 (c), [21 U.S.C. § 811 (c)] of the CSA as follows:
It’s actual or relative potential for abuse.
Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known.
The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance.
Its history and current pattern of abuse.
The scope, duration, and significance of abuse.
What, if any, risk there is to the public health.
Its psychic or physiological dependence liability.
Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter.
Controlled Substances in Trafficking, Gang Wars, and Crimes
The banning of controlled substances leads to decreased crime from trafficking, gang wars, and crimes. In addition to this is, the resultant effect is the decreased urge to obtain the substances and lower incarceration rates. There is also associated cost-saving, as more funds are available for treatment from savings and taxes on legally distributed drugs (Kasunic and Lee, 2014).
Legalization of Controlled Substances
The legalization of substances is seen as making them available. For example, marijuana is used for medicinal applications, like relieving discomfort and pain of cancer and AIDS patients. Hall and Lynskey (2016) point out that the question of where to draw the legal line in banning or legalizing controlled substances is problematic.
Experience with alcohol and tobacco suggests that a for-profit legal cannabis industry will increase use by making cannabis more socially acceptable to use, making it more readily available at a cheaper price, and increasing the number of users and frequency of their use.
Is it too early to see the full effects of legalized cannabis policies on use and harm? Several factors could delay the full commercialization of a legal cannabis industry.
The major challenge in predicting the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis use is the absence of any recent experience with such a radical policy change. Most preceding cannabis policy changes have been more incremental. They have reduced or removed criminal penalties for personal use but left cannabis supply to the black market.
The question is, how harmful must a drug be before it should be made illegal?
Picture this: in an environment where public pressures are mounting against the use of substances like tobacco, then the legalization of marijuana has a different aspect.
Funds disbursed to incarcerate drug offenders may have to be expanded at some future time on public medicinal programs to treat ills caused by newly legalized substances. It is entirely unknown whether or how much the use of such drugs as marijuana would increase – if it were legal.
Kasunic and Lee, 2014 further argue that the enormous harm that controlled substances (illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) cause the users and non-users to have prompted many governments to impose strictly enforced bans on their production and possession. Such bans help restrict drug use. On the other hand, prohibition also causes harm, including damages from black market crime and violence.
The legalization of substances would ameliorate the black-market harms. On the contrary, it would increase some other damages for decreasing price increasing their use and dependence. Opponents of legalization must engage in serious logical contortions to justify the legality of some substances like alcohol and tobacco. As it is already, the consumption of these harmful substances can yield lengthy prison sentences. For example, Reuter (2013) shows that the goals of tobacco control endgame policies are specified. There are the desired levels of smoking and tobacco-related health repercussions.
On the contrary, the policies considered have other after-effects beyond the smoking, pervasiveness, forms and related abuse. In this case, the policies threaten to create larger black markets.
What ensues is the potential attendant harms: corruption, high illegal earnings, violence, and organized felonies. Western societies have an extensive understanding of the problems corresponding to the prohibition of substances like cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Low prevalence has been achieved only by stringent enforcement with damaging unintended consequences.
Complete or partial prohibition of tobacco does not present the same trade-off, but there is little basis for a projection of the scale, form, and abuse of the attendant black markets. It is important to note that arguments claiming that the war on drugs is succeeding because drug use is down as measured at some point, time or date in the past ignores the fact that drug use is a cyclic phenomenon with ebbs and flows.
In conclusion, despite the law enforcement leaders’ stringent measures, the outlawing controlled substances strengthen cartels, allowing infiltration and increasing sales of even hard drugs.
Consequently, there are pros and cons of the legalization of controlled substances in the U. S. Complexities include differences between state and national level legalization, the enormous cost of financial and human regulation and enforcement, and the effects of different policies on the youth. Therefore, outlawing controlled substances creates a larger black market.
Reuter, P. (2013). Can tobacco control endgame analysis learn anything from the US experience with illegal drugs?. Tobacco Control, 22 (suppl 1), i49-i51.
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