America v Sweden
Drug use is prominent in most if not all countries around the world. The use of illegal substances has created a market that makes millions of dollars every year. Illegal drugs refer to ‘narcotic, psychotropic and related substances produced, traded or used in contravention to domestic law or international drug control organizations’ (Wyler 2008). Narcotic drugs include cocaine, heroin, opium and cannabis, psychotropic substances include ecstasy, LSD, amphetamine and methamphetamine. In some instances production and sale of controlled substances are legally permitted for medical and scientific use only. Nonetheless drug use is a universal problem that most countries face, with the global drug problem generating between ‘$100 billion to $1 trillion in illicit profit per year’(Wyler,2008). Moreover, because the drug trade is such a lucrative business this has led to ‘the revenue from illegal drug industry being used for international drug trafficking organizations to evade and compete with law enforcement officials, penetrate legitimate economic structures through money laundering and some instances challenges the authority of national government’.(Wyler,2008). From the evidence above, it is clear that drugs pose as a threat to countries everywhere, and policies are needed to combat this problem. Different countries use different approaches to deal with the drug problem, some countries have more stringent policies on illicit drugs than others, with varying outcomes of polices implemented. This paper will be looking at America’s policies for illicit substances compared to Sweden’s policies. The united states use an extremely punitive illegal drug policy. America has a high percentage of its population that consumes illegal substances, costing the tax payer billions of dollars each year. According to the drug policy alliance ‘America spends more than 51,000,000,000 on the war on drugs annually and in 2010 1,638,846 people were arrested on non-violent drug charges’(Drug Policy Alliance,2012). On the other hand Sweden uses a more restrictive approach. Sweden stands out because it is ‘one of the first countries in western Europe to be afflicted by the modern drug epidemic’(Anderrson et al 2002). The Swedish drug problem began in the 1930’s and amphetamines were seen as the biggest problem. Unlike Sweden, America’s drug problem can date back to the turn of the 19th century. One of the most significant developments in American drug policy was the Harrison Act 1914 which‘ sought to control the use and trade of drugs this act confined the distribution of heroin and cocaine to physicians’ (Blanchard &Chin:2007). The public’s perception on drugs is also a determining factor on drug policies, this is because initially ‘drug policy in the united states focused on public health issues until 1920’s, when the temperance movement, in conjunction with attitudes of nationalism, nativism, fear of anarchy and communism, shifted public perception to view drug abuse as a national security threat’ (Blanchard & Chin:2007). Sweden on the other hand has always viewed the use of drugs as a problem, rather than seeing it as a crime they saw it more as a health issue and ‘used legal prescription to deal with the drug problem between 1965-67’(Lafreniere:2002). Political influence also has an effect on policy, and in America President Richard Nixon’s saw that ‘Americas public enemy number one was drug abuse.in order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive ending the drug war’(Angell et al,2011). It was taken a step further by Reagan’s administration who declared it a war on drugs in the 1980’s. Similar to America, Sweden’s drug policies changed with different ideas. Sweden’s drug policies have not always been restrictive, ‘in the 1960s, its policy was fairly liberal, basically reflecting a harm reduction approach’(Lafreniere :2002). This changed after psychiatrist Nils Bejort ‘aimed to stop legal...
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