Drugs on Society: Cocaine

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Discussion 2: Drugs and Society

For thousands of years, cocaine was thought to be a solution to many problems that our bodies encounter. It has been used to fight fatigue and promote alertness, as well as functioning as a local anesthetic. It has also been used for psychiatric use. Cocaine is well known among many cultures. Although it is now illegal, cocaine is looked down upon much less than other drugs that are now available to us. For example, crack cocaine has almost the same composition as cocaine, but holds a much heftier penalty to those who are caught with it. Some agree with the laws, that crack cocaine is a much more addictive and socially destructive drug than cocaine by itself. Others feel that the laws are racist and are aimed at blacks and other minority groups.

According to the textbook, Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior (Carl Hart), there are four different criticisms of the past and present laws on crack. The first criticism is that, “The penalties exaggerate the relative harmfulness of crack cocaine” (Hart, 134). Until 2010, the sentence for getting caught with 5 grams of crack was the same as getting caught with 500 grams of cocaine. The penalties were not relative to how harmful the drug actually was. Crack is not a hundred times more harmful than cocaine, therefore the sentence should not be that much different. I personally think that one of the reasons we as a culture view crack as such a negative drug in comparison to cocaine is due to the media’s portrayal of it. If it is all over the news, people are going to think that it is a serious problem, whether it is or not. I’m sure crack does do more damage than cocaine, but certainly not a hundred times more. The laws were modified in 2010 so there is not such a big gap, but the two drugs are still not even.

The second criticism of the laws on crack is that, “Current penalties sweep too broadly and apply most often to lower-level offenders” (Hart, 134). For many years, cocaine was...
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