Many factors influence whether or not a drug is legal, but most of these factors deal with protecting the public from danger.
The strongest force behind the legal status of a drugs is consumer protection. The public demands that medications be safe, reliable and truthfully labelled. Laws, procedures and organizations created to serve this demand put drugs under tight restrictions.
Other laws address drug abuse, or using drugs outside of medicinal guidelines. Prohibiting people from taking drugs just to get high seeks to protect people from the damage they can cause themselves. These laws also protect society from the damage that drug users may cause, like unruly behavior or reckless endangerment, like driving drunk. Additionally, drug laws accomplish the following advantages:
Although many dangerous drugs have been outlawed, the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 created a unified federal drug policy. A classification system was created so that drugs with the greatest potential for abuse and harm are the most tightly controlled. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created soon afterwards to enforce these laws.
The DEA’s drug classifications are often accepted without controversy, especially because drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin are demonstrably dangerous. However, many people oppose the legal status of a few drugs due to traditions and culture. For instance, alcohol’s status as a legal product owes more to tradition than its safety profile. The costs of drinking, both for individuals and society, are tremendous, and alcohol has little to no medicinal or nutritional value. Alcohol was outlawed during the 1920s in America, but because many people still accepted alcohol, the laws prohibiting alcohol were eventually abolished. Also, marijuana’s legal status has drawn questions in recent years. Many people believe that restricting marijuana use unnecessarily limits individual freedom, so local laws against marijuana are being repealed or minimally enforced where this idea has gained footing.
If you or someone you know suffers from drug addiction, then call our toll-free helpline to learn about treatment. Whether the drug is legal or not, our addiction coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help you quit a dangerous habit of drug abuse.