In the late 19th century, drugs became widely spread in the USA. During the Civil War, almost all kinds of drugs were used as a medical treatment. Injured patients were given them during surgeries. Opium was one of the most popular substances. Later, the list of “helpful” drugs became wider as cocaine started to be used as a medicine. At the time, there were cases when doctors even prescribed heroin and morphine as the remedies to cure people suffering from alcohol addiction. In addition, mentally ill people were also treated with drugs as it helped them overcome depression. It is interesting to note that some drugs, opium in particular, were used to prepare some drinks and mixtures.
Unfortunately, the society in the USA during the late 19th century was full of drug and alcohol addicted people, leading to increased crime rates in the country. Dr. DuPont, a famous psychologist, suggested that there was a connection between the crimes committed during that time and the drug addiction. It is evident that under the influence of drugs people tend to act in an unusual way and incline to cruelty and violence. In many cases, people do not understand what is happening around them. The only thing they need is a new portion of relaxation and amusement. Constant use of drug led to feel lack of money. However, it did not prevent people from using drugs and they came out with different ways to get a new dose. It resulted in increased crime rate and mortality. Every year, the number of addicts was rising, leading to more deaths due to overdose.
Drug usage control and its distribution were the main tasks of the US government at the beginning of the 20th century. However, most strategies and procedures were ineffective and did not solve the drug-related problems. To prevent the illegal use and spread of drugs the US government enacted the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The law was signed by President Richard Nixon on October 27, 1970 (Fisher & Roget 2008). Richard Nixon is considered to be the “father of the War on Drugs” (The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970). He really understood the scopes of the problem. Increased focus was put on children and teenagers, who suffered from drug addiction. The young generation has always been the future of any country. However, at the time, the USA had no future in terms of national development as many young people were dying. Therefore, the President directed all his power and efforts, as well as the power of the government, to change the situation and to win the war on drugs. Till nowadays, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act serves as the most important legal document that controls all possible wrongdoings related to drugs throughout the USA.
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act reflected the two previous laws, namely the Harrison Narcotic Act, enacted in 1916, and the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965. Another law, developed earlier than the Act, was the Pure Food and Drug Act. The document was signed in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26 US President. The Act was created to regulate the situation related to food and drugs in the country. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration announced a list of ten most dangerous and harmful drugs. However, the Act did not bring great changes. People continued to use and distribute drugs from cities to suburbs. Thus, the law of the 1970 was more accurate and stricter than the previous ones and played a leading role in the history of drug use (Wilson 2015).
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act provides the number of prohibitions against illegal propagation of drugs, drug classification, and prescriptions needed for their distribution (Titles II and III of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970). According to the law, all kinds of drugs, except those with accredited medical use, are under Federal jurisdiction. The Act consists of two parts called “Title II” and “Title III”. Besides, amendments were added with an aim to change the life in the USA. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created as the government agency responsible for the law adherence.
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act disclosed the classification of the drugs presented in Title II that consists of five categories. The “drug schedule” is the following:
Level 1 – the drugs that are considered to be the most dangerous substances to people’s health and the society in general and are not related to the medical sphere. Such drugs are not available to people. Moreover, no prescriptions can be given for such drugs as they are not used in medical treatment (e.g. marihuana, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy);
Level 2 – the drugs that are less dangerous, but still do a lot of harm to humanity. These drugs are accepted in medicine, though, there are some samples. The components of this kind can be found and bought in case of emergency. Still, prescription is necessary and it serves as the only source of the legal permits. Such drugs as cocaine, methadone, Ritalin, opium, morphine etc. constitute this group;
Level 3 – the substances of this category do not lead to drug addiction. Nevertheless, they do affect people’s lives. These drugs can be distributed without oral or written prescriptions (e.g. anabolic steroids, ketamine, testosterone etc.);
Level 4 – the drugs with almost no threat to people’s physical and mental development, for example, Soma, Valium, Xanax, Tramadol, and others.
Level 5 – the drugs that may have some side effects, but are not dangerous. Usually, they serve as the components of different medicines, e.g. Motofen, Parapectin, Lomotil, etc. (Titles II and III of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970).
The law suggests that the drugs of the first two schedules must be under a strict control. It means that these drugs must be separated from the less harmful ones. Also, there must be no possibility for people to buy or somehow get these drugs. To order the drugs of these categories the pharmaceutical companies must register with the DEA. Further, all the procedures and details of the drug use are controlled by the DEA.
Undoubtedly, the components of the schedules 3-5 must be also controlled by the law and are forbidden for the widespread distribution. Though, in case any of the above mentioned drugs can be used in medical treatment, they can be found and sold in special places. Still, in order to get the needed substance one should have a special permit or a doctor’s prescription (Controlled Substances Act of 1970).
The decision to add or delete some drugs from the schedules is made by the DEA or the Department of Health and Human Services. Moreover, special companies, concerned with the drug use, can make an application to change the list. The representatives of such companies are pharmacists` associations, medical establishments, local or state government services, and others.
In case a person or an industry violates the law, such person or company must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The illegal distribution, manufacturing, or production of the forbidden substances that contain the elements of the first and the second levels, presuppose a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years or life imprisonment. In case a person dies or gets some serious damage, the accused can be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than 20 years or life imprisonment. Moreover, the person has the right to pay an admission of guilt fine, amounting to more than 4 million dollars. As for illegal use of the components of the schedule 3, the accused person is sentenced to imprisonment for a period not more than 5 years. The bailment is not more than $250.000. In addition, if a person deals with the drugs of the 4th level, he/she may be under arrest for not more than 3 years. The fine for this term is also $250.000. In case a committed crime involves the drugs of the 5th level, the person may be imprisoned for not more than one year. The possible fine for such crimes is not more than $100.000.
Title III does not provide a lot of descriptive and referenced information. However, it contains information concerning the export and import of drugs, as well as all the criminal consequences of these procedures. There is also the data on the process of the illegal drug confiscation by the government agencies if there are some special reasons for it (Titles II and III of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970).
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No doubt, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act did not solve all the problems of that period. It was evident that the law needed amendments as the new problems and requirements appeared. People found new drugs and modified the existing ones. The process of drug production seems to be endless. However, the Act is a great start of an attempt to live differently. The main task of the law was not to get more prisoners or receive money by making the accused people pay fines. The aim was to prevent the society from addiction, illnesses, and destruction of lives. It was a real fight between the desire to be healthy and happy rather than die because of overdose or stay in the prisons for the major part of life.
Nowadays, the US nation has recovered from the immense drug addiction. Of course, the problem has not been completely solved. People began to understand the importance of the healthy way of life and life without addiction. The majority of Americans started to exercise, eat fresh food that includes vitamins and minerals, and spend more time outside. Drinking alcohol and using drugs are not popular anymore. People care about themselves and their families. They want to live a long and happy life. The desire to make changes was influenced by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. It helped people realize that life may be good, interesting, and entertaining without drugs. Moreover, it is possible to earn a living without being engaged in the drug business. The most essential thing is that most young people today have realized the threats of drugs and do their best to avoid these disastrous substances.