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History of Drug Laws

The history of drug laws, shows us the evolution of social attitude towards drugs usage. Thereby, it witnessed transformation form. Harrison Act of 1914, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and the Federal Controlled Substances Act are useful to trace the transformation of law approach to drug addiction and traffic form medical to behavioral one. Harrison Tax Act of 1914 was adopted to establish tax system of drugs control. It prescribed “narcotics” obtained by addicts, had to be secured by physicians. The plot of appropriate act stated that society treats addiction as medical issue, rather than criminal (punishable, behavioral) one (Morris, 2007).

Marijuana Tax Act did not made drugs abuse criminal offense, however, established complex tax system of narcotics distribution and made it legal purchase practically impossible. According to this act, handling of hemp, marijuana, or cannabis, had to be penalized up to $2000 and or even to five years’ imprisonment. By the way, this act was considered unconstitutional by Supreme Court as it violated 5th amendment (Miller, 2009). The 1970 Controlled Substances Act became revolutionary one, as it established current approach to drugs and narcotics, which is carried out even nowadays.The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 is a combination of numerous laws regulating the manufacture and distribution ofstimulants, narcotics, anabolic steroids, depressants, hallucinogens, and chemicals used in the illicit production of controlled substance. This Act established Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with Attorney General in charge of prosecution. The DEA’s enforcement of the CSA includes investigation and preparation for the interstate and international prosecution of violators of these laws (Solomon, 2010). Thinking about what drug laws are effective, it looks like every step of legal thought evolution contributed the development of drugs’ traffic control in some way. Thereby, we witnessed changes from too simple economically restrictive approach to multifaceted control at all levels (including enforcement) provided with CSA of 1970 and developed subsequently.

Morris, M. (2007, March 13). History of drug laws and restrictions in U.S. Retrieved from http://facultypages.morris.umn.edu/~ratliffj/psy1081/drug_laws.htm
Miller, A. (2009, September 24). Controlled Substance Law. Retrieved from http://www.hg.org/control.html
Solomon, D. (2010, June 08). The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Retrieved from http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/mjtaxact.htm