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Anti-Drug Legislation Analysis

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Anti-Drug Legislation Analysis

In the United States Anti-drug, legislation has had an interesting long history. Once the first drugs that went widespread in the United States were Opium. This originally came from China. Doctors used opium as a prescription drug, but the increasing cases of addiction led to laws against this drug. Most of the opium addicts were women because the doctors tended to prescribe the drug for many women's specific problems. In 1875, a law was passed in California prohibiting individuals from smoking opium. Although the law pertained mostly to Chinese immigrants, it was the first step in anti-drug legislation is the Unites States. At the Federal level, the banning of importation of opium by Chinese nationals occurred in 1887 and in 1905; opium smoking was restricted in the Philippines (Harrison). While these laws were the first steps, they did not have any comprehensive provisions to reduce drug supply and use in the country. The laws targeted the reduction of supply of drugs in the country and did not address the issue of treatment of a genuine illness.

The first major legislation in this direction was the Harrison Act, passed in 1914. One of the most influential legislative acts ever passed concerning drugs, occurred in 1914 when Congress approved the Harrison Act (after its main sponsor, Representative Francis Burton Harrison of New York) (Harrison). The act required all medical practitioners who prescribed substances such as opium and morphine to register with the government authorities and if any person without such license prescribed these substances could be punished both with a fine and jail time. As time progressed, it was becoming more evident that the abuse and damage caused by these substances was more than its medical benefits, which eventually led to an end of their use as medicine. However, the act also had negative effects such as citizens using the drug only for medicinal purposes were not on the wrong side of the law.

In 1937, Congress started another act, which placed a tax on the use of marijuana. By 1951, however, with the passage of the Boggs act, a number of substances illegalized and removed heroin from the list of substances that used for medical purposes. Throughout the 1950's the society's concern for drug related problems continued to increase, resulting in the federal government making more severe laws. The federal narcotics act increased the severity of drug trafficking and possession. In 1960, the manufacturing act passed which sought to tighten the control over legally manufactured narcotics. This was necessary due to the increasing production and use of synthetic manufactured drugs, which were cheaper, and more harmful than traditional narcotic substances. While these laws aimed to address individual areas of drug control, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse, Prevention, and Control Act of 1970, passed by Richard Nixon planned a comprehensive anti-drug legislature. This legislature intended to consolidate over fifty federal laws into one law that would regulate the legal drug industry and eliminate the illegal import and supply of non-prescribed drugs of all kinds. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 established the creation of a drug-free America as a policy goal (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/about/authorizing_legislation.html).

Drugs categorized into five schedules, both at the federal and state level. The classification based on the risk of abuse, access, severity of punishment etc. The first schedule, which includes heroin, is the most severe while the second level would include drugs like morphine and cocaine. Level three would have cold medicines and level four and five would have substances with very mild addictive properties. These classifications also help the federal authorities make laws that seek demand reduction of drugs. Te Porter Narcotic Farm act, the first act that attempted to address

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