Legalization of Narcotics
Narcotics, or drugs, are substances that affect the body’s functions. They can stimulate the mind, make people depressed, or make them hyper. Marijuana, heroin, LSD, PCP, cocaine, and anabolic steroids are all considered narcotics. Narcotics are illegal in the U.S. Even though drugs are illegal, about 12 million people use them anyway. Many strict laws have been passed against drugs but they seem to have little affect. People still decide to sell or use drugs for recreational purpose. This is why narcotics should be legalized.
Before 1914, it was legal to make, sell, or use any type of drugs. Many of the drugs were used for medicinal use. This was before people found out how addictive and harmful drugs were. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required medicine labels to show whether over the counter drugs contained narcotics. After the act was passed, many Americans did not buy medicine that contained narcotics. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 made narcotics illegal except for medicinal purpose. On 1919 the Supreme Court changed the Harrison Narcotics Act. They made it illegal for doctors to prescribe narcotic drugs to addicts.
The Controlled Substance Act was created in 1970. The CSA turned fifty-five drug laws into one big one. This act sets the minimum penalties for the use or distribution of narcotics. State and local governments can make the drug laws stricter, but have to follow the minimal guidelines set by the CSA. The CSA divides narcotics into five categories called schedules. Schedule I drugs are only allowed for controlled experimentation. They have the highest potential for abuse. These drugs are: heroin, LSD, marijuana, and Ecstasy. Schedule II drugs are also restricted, but can be prescribed by doctors under special circumstances. These drugs are cocaine and PCP. Schedule III drugs have medical use, but can be abused. These are mostly painkillers and barbiturates such as codeine and morphine. Schedules IV and V are prescription drugs with low potential for abuse. Tranquilizers like Valium and Librium are Schedule IV or V. Also included are sleep aides and weak stimulants.
In 1973 the Drug Enforcement Administration was formed. The DEA is in charge of stopping drug trafficking and those who violate drug laws. There are DEA offices in every state and in fifty foreign countries.
The Drug Abuse Act of 1986 made mandatory minimum sentencing laws. A person who makes the mistake of buying, delivering, or dealing drugs can end up in prison for five years even if it is a first offense. This makes serious drug penalties more severe than an attempted murder crimes.
In the 1980s presidents Reagan and Bush began a "War on Drugs". In 1981, $1.46 billion were spent against drugs. It increased to $12 billion in 1992. The number of drug users has gone down. However, the amount of addicts has remained steady. Two thirds of the federal budget goes toward law enforcement. Police spend the majority of their time making drug arrests. Most of the time, there are small-scale users and dealers instead of big time dealers and suppliers. All this money spent on the drug war seems to have little affect, if any, on drug users.
In 1995, officials confiscated ninety-eight metric tons of cocaine. This was only just a small amount of cocaine that was used that year. Now that stopping the smuggling of marijuana has been a little more successful, more people began to grow their own. There are many loopholes in the losing fight against drugs.
Many people think that the drug problem in the U.S. is exaggerated. Only a minority of teenagers exposed to drugs actually use drugs regularly. Teenagers use alcohol and tobacco more than they use drugs and both are illegal since they are underage.
Legalization of narcotics is an idea that many people support. Some form of legalization is the best solution to the drug problem faced today in the U.S. Anti-drug laws cause more problems than they solve. Some people believe that there should be full legalization of narcotics. They believe that narcotics should be legal and sold like alcohol and tobacco. Others believe in "controlled legalization". There are two forms of controlled legalization. They are medicalization and decriminalization. Medicalization means that doctors should prescribe drugs