Controlled Substance Act

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Controlled Substance Act: The Legalization of Marijuana The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was approved by the Congress in 1970. Section II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, is the federal U.S. drug policy that controls the custody, use, engineering and import of specific controlled substances. The drugs listed in the CSA fall under different categories; the categories are known as schedules. The legislation created 5 schedules with different explanations for a substance to be contained within in each. The schedule one drugs are viewed as extremely dangerous while the drugs listed on schedule five are not as dangerous (drugpolicy.org). Some of the drugs listed under the act are as less harmless than nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. One of the drugs I believe should be removed from the list is marijuana for various different reasons. During the 1920's many Mexican immigrants fled to the United States for work. With them, many of them brought marijuana. The act of smoking marijuana was picked up on by many musicians during the 1920's and 1930's, but was not used widespread until the 1960's. During the 1930's, a marijuana conviction could result in up to a six month sentence. In 1937, the Treasury Department established a marijuana transfer tax known as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, after testifying before Congress. After 1937 up until the passing of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Act of 1970, which include the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, marijuana was legally controlled through a transfer tax. Marijuana’s classification as a schedule I drug means that the DEA defines it as a “drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” (Hirst, 2013). Hirst contends that this illegal status of the drug has been a major impediment facilitating research that would evaluate potential benefits of the drug. The author also points out that “a complicated federal approval process and limited availability of research-grade marijuana add to the difficulty” (Hirst, 2013). Classifying it to a Schedule II drug, according to the author, would mean that it is still considered harmful, but it would acknowledge that the drug has “potential medical value” and, therefore, facilitate research (Hirst, 2013). On the other hand, marijuana can become psychologically addictive. A psychological addiction occurs when the cravings for a drug are emotional. But, can’t anything become addictive? Caffeine, alcohol, and video games are three common propensities, and they are perfectly legal. Yes, some people get “hooked” on marijuana and are overcome by the desire to have it in their system. That also happens with caffeine and alcohol, does it not? Indeed, marijuana is just like everything else, an addiction if you allow yourself to perceive it that way. In fact, the human mind is one of the most omnipotent things in the world; you can convince yourself to believe just about anything you want to, hence leaving room for psychological addictions. Accordingly, addictions like caffeine, alcohol, and video games can be prevented by limiting your intake/playing time and keeping your mind in line with the facts. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 led to several other laws being formed that would further criminalize marijuana and other recreational drugs. One year after the establishment of the Controlled Substances Act, President Nixon declared the War on Drugs. This attempt to control recreational drug use among American's is seen today as one of the biggest failures and biggest wastes of money in American history. Every year hundreds of thousands to millions of people are arrest for drug violations. About half of these arrests are for small amounts of marijuana. In 1973, New York State's legislature passed the Rockefeller Drug Laws. These laws would give long prison sentences for drug offenders. These offenses were most commonly for the sale or possession of small amounts of illicit drugs like marijuana. Since the inception of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, over 150,000 New Yorkers have been sent to prison for non-violent drug offenses. Between the years of 1974 and 2002, the prison population in New York rose by almost 500%. Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used in the United States with roughly 100 million Americans admitting to trying marijuana at least once. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with about 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation (cnn.com). The government currently spends billions of dollars every year to chase peaceful people who happen to like to use marijuana as a relaxer, such as people who us alcohol or tobacco. These people get locked up in prison and the taxpayers have to pay the bill. We have to pay for food, housing, healthcare, attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses to lock up people who use marijuana on their own time. A Pew study says it costs the U.S. an average of $30,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate, but the nation spends only an average $11,665 per public school student. The future of our nations and our children should be our priority. We should be helping people addicted to drugs break their habits rather than putting users in prison (cnn.com). The government estimated if marijuana were to be taxed in the same manner as tobacco and alcohol it would bring in nearly 50 billion in tax income yearly. Estimated annual revenue in the state of California alone would raise $1,400,000,000 if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana (drugpolicy.org). Legalizing marijuana would save the U.S. a yearly total of $41 billion by not enforcing marijuana arrest; this money can be used for health and educational benefits. Advocates of medical marijuana claim that the drug can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of AIDS, Cancer, glaucoma, pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other conditions. The government should legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use to help patients, create tax revenue, and end the non-stop war on drugs. People can decide whether or not they want to use marijuana. The government only has the right to limit the choice of an individual only if the action endangers someone else. When talking about marijuana this should not apply because those who choose to use marijuana on his or her free will. The government also may have a right to limit individual actions if the actions pose a significant threat to the individual. But this argument does not logically apply to marijuana because marijuana is far less dangerous than some drugs which are legal, such as alcohol and tobacco. Then legalization might reduce the likelihood of moving on to harder drugs. References Hirst, J. E. (2013), “Health Effects of Medical Marijuana still Hazy” Providence Journal. Title 21 United States Code Controlled Substances Act Public Law 91-513 Drug War Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-war-statistics Ferner, M. (n.d.). One Marijuana Arrest Occurs Every 42 Seconds In U.S.: FBI Report. Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/one-marijuana-arrest-occu_n_2041236.html Marijuana Policy Project. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.mpp.org/media/op-eds/the-war-of-pot-americas-42.html (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2014, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/etc/cron.html War on drugs a trillion-dollar failure - CNN.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/06/opinion/branson-end-war-on-drugs/ Drug War Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2015, from http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-war-statistics
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