Why Are Some Drugs Illegal?

Why Are Some Drugs Illegal?Drugs, both legal and illegal, are a prominent part of cultures around the world. The number of prescription drugs in typical American households continues to rise, and legal substances, such as alcohol, are abused on a daily basis. Furthermore, medical marijuana is legal in many states, while in others it still remains illegal to possess any amount of it. A look at the history of drug use in America can explain why some drugs are legal and others are not.

First Regulations against Drugs

The first drug ever to be regulated in the US was opium, which many people abused in opium dens. In 1875, San Francisco banned opium use in these dens, but the sale, use and import of the drug remained legal. Over the next 25 years, other states enacted opium laws that ranged from outlawing drug dens to making possession, sale or use of the drug forbidden. In 1890, the first congregational act dealing with opium was enacted, levying a tax on opium and morphine. The Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act of 1919 prohibited doctors from prescribing maintenance narcotics to people who were addicted to them, and from that point on both state and the federal government have worked to control drug use in the US. Modern-day laws include the Drug Addiction Treatment Act—which allows doctors to dispense narcotics to treat opiate dependency—and Bill H.R.6344—which allows doctors to prescribe certain drugs for opioid addicts.

Should Drugs Be Legalized?

People have many opinions about why certain drugs are and should remain illegal. For instance, considerable research focuses on how addiction affects children, families and society as a whole. Narcotics, mood-altering drugs, anti-depressants, stimulants and other prescription drugs all pose a high risk of addiction, so the government hopes to protect society by controlling the use and sale of these drugs through physicians. Additionally, many prescription drugs cause dangerous side effects, so seeing a doctor regularly while taking prescription drugs minimizes how these drugs interact and the risk of death from dangerous side effects.

All drugs that are legal for use in the US have at least some restrictions. Age limits for alcohol are directly correlated to the number of alcohol-related deaths each year. The debate continues as to whether marijuana use can lead to addiction to more dangerous substances, but narcotics that put people at risk of accidental overdose continue to be highly regulated for safety reasons. No matter what your thought is about drug regulations, the fact remains that habit-forming drugs are dangerous, because they often and easily lead to drug addiction.

Help for Drug Addiction

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