Causes and Effects of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970

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In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was put into place by the Congress of the United States Government. This Act, Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, is the federal U.S. drug policy which regulates the possession, use, manufacturing and importation of certain controlled substances. The substances controlled under this act fall under various classifications. These classifications are known as schedules. The legislation created 5 schedules with different qualifications for a substance to be included in each. Schedule I includes some of the drugs that are viewed as seriously threatening while schedule V includes drugs that are viewed as not as threatening. A Schedule I drug must fall under one of the following categories. A. The drug has a high potential for abuse.

B. The drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. C. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. [1] Under schedule I are dangerous and addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Also under schedule I, falling under the same category as opiates and heavy hallucinogens, is Marijuana. Since this Federal Law was passed in 1970, millions of Americans have been arrested and sent to prison for drug related crimes. Many of these drug related crimes were for violations as small as possession of Marijuana. Our prisons are overflowing with these offenders. Although the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, there is an extensive history of drug use in the United States, which has lead to this act.

This law has been in the works since the beginning of drug use in America. One of the earliest forms of drug abuse in the United States was with opium. Opium was seen as a resource for pain relief. European explorers and settlers brought crude opium or dissolved opium extract to North America. Many people, including one of our great nation's forefathers, Benjamin Franklin, used opium as a source of pain relief. Franklin would use an opium extract to alleviate the pain of kidney stones during his last few years of life. It wasn't until 1818 that opium was recognized as being potentially dangerous. During this year, the American Dispensatory released a note stating that opium used habitually could lead to side affects such as tremors, paralysis, stupidity and general emaciation [2].

Along with opium, other opiates and cocaine were readily available and becoming major issues at this time. During the 1800s, physicians would prescribe patients with hypodermic syringes of pure morphine without any idea that it could lead to addiction. It wasn't until much later in the century that the dangers of morphine was recognized and laws were put into place to limit the amount of morphine a physician could prescribe. These laws and the development of aspirin led to a decline in prescribed morphine. In 1906, the federal government enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act. This act required that drugs sold in interstate commerce would be accurately labeled. This did not prevent the sales of addictive drugs, such as cocaine and opiates. At this time there was still no law that prevented the use of opiates and cocaine or even limited the availability of the addictive substances [2].

This act didn't do much to lessen the heavy use of cocaine. In 1910, President William Howard Taft stated that cocaine posed the most serious drug problem that America had ever faced. Four years later, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Harrison Act. This act would allow cocaine to only be sold through prescriptions. While cocaine use was increasing, the use of opium was decreasing and continued to decrease when it's dangers became well recognized. This abuse of opium saw drastic decline in 1909 when an act would outlaw its importation. A major reason for this new law was because many Americans began to associate smoking opium with the Chinese immigrants who fled to...
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