Society and Drug Use: a Sociological Perspective

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In all societies, there are substances that are deemed as both not acceptable and acceptable for consumption. The laws today are a result of ever changing societal norms. Before a particular drug is discovered, it is not illegal; it simply exists in nature. When that substance is introduced into a society, it must be determined if its effects are in line with the societies morals which may be in large part regulated by the dominate religion. If it is proven to be beneficial to the society and abides by the social morals its use is largely unregulated. If an individual in that society that is not a part of the dominate religion uses an illegal substance, are they exhibiting deviant behavior or practicing their freedom of religion? Of course, religion is not the only factor when it comes to the complicated issue of drug laws, especially in today’s society. The legality of a drug differs from country to country and one society’s perception of a harmful drug may be seen as just another recreational drug such as alcohol. In the case of cannabis use in tourism, such motivations might include the loosening of social control as a reason for use (Belhassen, et al, 2007).

Different Societies, Different Acceptance levels

The use of drugs varies widely from country to country. For example, in the United States, it is illegal to use opium from the opium poppy plant in it’s for any reason. By contrast, in Afghanistan, it is commonplace to use this drug for medicinal purposes. One might imagine if in a remote location of a desert with no medical services nearby, a broken limb would be very painful and the use of opium as a painkiller would be a welcomed thing. Of course, not everyone lives in the remote locations and their view of this use might be different. But a lot of these people unknowingly use Opium many times in their life. It is simply in the disguise of a pill or injection such as Codeine, Morphine, and Oxycodone to name a few. Is it immoral to use the plant to treat a condition instead of the refined pill or injection? Of course, opium is highly addictive and has the potential for abuse just as the pill form does. Although opium is commonly used in Afghanistan, alcohol is not permitted due to Muslim faith (Islam) does not allow it. The United States on the other hand has not only permitted the use of alcohol but in some cases has glamorized it.

Drug Use as a Moral, Political, and Economic Issue

There are many reasons why some drugs are made illegal, some more complex than others. Some drugs such as alcohol was made illegal during the prohibition of the 1920’s due to the surrounding moral and political issues but was made legal in 1933 because of pressure from the public and demand for the substance. Even coffee was once under fire due to moral views on the drink. It tends to be a balance of moral, political, and economic aspects that determine whether a drug is made legal, illegal, or controlled. A drug such as caffeine has such an economic impact on the United States that making it illegal would result in a reduction in the gross national product (GDP). Coffee is a multi-billion dollar industry, providing jobs for millions of people an fueling the economy not only in term of dollars but increased work production as an estimated 54% of Americans drink coffee regularly (NCA, 2009). Although hemp is not a drug, it is part of the cannabis family that contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is currently a schedule one drug. Hemp was a vital crop during the foundation of the Unites States and was used in many different applications such as rope, clothing, and paper. Due to today’s political climate, hemp cannot play a major role in the economy due to its state of legality but one day may again be a world leader in textiles and building material.

Perception of Drugs and Deviancy

There is a perception of deviant behavior that is associated with drugs. When an individual uses a drug, they are...
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