Issue of Drug Use

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The issue of drug policy and abuse has been a long-debated topic globally as drugs effect people from every walk of life and age group. The article I chose written by authors at the Journal of Drug Issues is titled “Reflections on Drug Policy”. Among other things, I found this selection clearly articulated a history of the development of drug policy, the public’s perception of drug use and abuse, medicalization of drugs, and how an approach for legalization and regulation could be taken.

Whether through public outcry, legislation or other policy, it also outlines steps our country has taken in regards to drug abuse, positive or negative. This displayed an unbiased attitude toward the subject and gave me confidence that the article was well rounded. Through presidential advocacy and racial discrimination, policy on drugs was slowly shaped by the association of drug use and crime. African American males make up considerably more than any other race in terms of prison population. This was exacerbated by the continuance of unbalanced application of drug laws. Drug laws were used to target American citizens and undermined civil rights as the smell of drugs could constitute entrance and a potential search and seizure.


As Katharine Neill points out in her abstract to “The War on Drugs in the American states” social and political ideology at the time of the development of drug policy was often called on and utilized more than real drug use rates or the rise in drug related crime. She referenced a policy design framework which can seek to understand the social construction of a particular drug offender. Additionally, she outlines her research supports evidence for other factors that influence drug policy including, controlling threatening populations and bureaucratic incentives to pursue drug related crimes. Succinctly using a table, Neill also outlines, using time periods, the history of drug policy in the United States. It shows the legislation or public policy from that period, the results of said legislation, and supposed purposes for enacting the legislation. She also mentions that studies have found police focus more on drug crime in black communities than white ones. Although the author mentions many statistics and uses evidence to support them, part of the article could be seen as opinionated as in comparison to my original article.

In the early 1900s during President Theodore Roosevelts term, in response to pressure from Christian missionaries vetoed the reinstitution of the opium monopoly, ending the supply to our territory in the Philippines. After this point, it marked a shift in the response to non-medical uses of drugs. With a snowball of legislation in the early 1920’s, opiates began to be outlawed and the decision to stop allowing physicians to prescribe it for addiction maintenance was made. This showed a shift in motivation toward drug policy from rehabilitation to incarceration. The government declared from their own observation of military officials and personnel that rehabilitation was a “revolving door” and did not constitute further research or monetary investment. As Lee also mentioned in his selection “2010: U.S. Drug and Alcohol Policy, Looking Back and Moving Forward”, the War on Drugs was profitable and thriving more than ever. The government incrementally increase expenditure on drug enforcement from four million in 1962 to sixty million in 1972, just ten years later.

In 1970, after some time developing drug policy, Congress moved to find that some drugs can have legitimate medical purposes for the general public. Previously, Congress relied solely on testimony from drug enforcement heads like Harry J. Anslinger who claimed marijuana incites violent and insane behavior. This changed when Nixon changed direction and called for an all-out war on drugs. As Lisa Sacco illustrates in her article “DRUG ENFORCEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES”, Nixon began allocating funds and manpower to the issue. According to government figures provided by Sacco, in 1973 the DEA or Drug Enforcement Agency had gained almost fifteen million dollars compared to the previous number of sixty million as mentioned above. Only two years later the budget had nearly doubled to almost 141 million dollars. As of 2014 the DEA has an operating budget of two billion with over nine thousand full time employees.

Critical Evaluation

In Kathrine Neills “The War on Drugs in the American states” it discusses the rise of the increase of drug use when the drug policy was being enforced. The article is unbiased because it points out both the positive and negatives when this drug policy was enforced. When it was enforced, it began to control threatening populations and bureaucratic incentives helped to pursue drug related crimes. But it also created an outbreak and all of the rise in the drug related crime, it became a way to protest disagreement that the policy was being enforced. This is the outcry in the community that is backing up what is discussed in “Reflections on Drug Policy.” In both of these articles it brings out why the policy was good and bad for the community and what’s going on with it now as the outcry continues.

Unfortunately, limited progress has been made on these challenging and unproductive policies.In this article “2010: U.S. Drug and Alcohol Policy, Looking Back and Moving Forward” it showed more of how a shift began in motivation toward drug policy from rehabilitation to incarceration. It gives us a background of opiates being outlawed and decision to stop allowing physicians to prescribe it for addiction maintenance. They stopped allowing these prescriptions to be so accessible and the war on drugs began to thrive. Talking about this in this article and the first article means that this was the time when the policy on drugs was slowly beginning to shape the association of drug use and crime. During this time, the government was increasing the expenditure of drug enforcement once each year and continued it consecutively for at least ten years. For the government to have such an increase in expenditures per year is a signal that real forces stand to enforce this legislation.

After having the laws being enforced continuously for such a long time, there eventually came a development within the drug policy. They finally realized that the use of these drugs may have a positive medical purpose for the general public. Tying all of this in with “DRUG ENFORCEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES,” article to the original “Reflections on Drug Policy” article, is that towards the end is when it talks about the positives and negatives of the beginning of legalization. The policy that “legalization and regulation policy supports access to drugs through governmental regulation of distribution, legal age of use, and other regulatory components,” was a big step forward in all of drug policies. It shows the unbiased, by talking about the positives of this policy. The positives in all this, was that it was supposed to create a decrease in crimes involving drug trade and tax revenue.

Although this is a great positive, there are some big negatives. The biggest negative that the article has pointed out is that even with the legalization policy may not be the best at regulating how effective the policy is in preventing use and all of the consequences that go along with these addictive substances. Acknowledging both sides on this policy is a very important part of both of the articles in building this reflection on the policies.

Drug policies and abuse can be something very difficult to discuss in today’s modern society. When creating an opinion of these policies you have to understand all of the perspectives and framework that has shaped each policy. There is a lot of information since this has been going on for so long, but it is important to understand both sides to the argument. I think that the “Reflections on Drug Policy,” displays an unbiased attitude toward the subject as a whole. It brought every aspect in addressing all issues from legislation to the public outcry.

Works Cite

  1. McBride, Duane C., et al. “REFLECTIONS ON DRUG POLICY.” Journal of Drug Issues, vol. 39, no. 1, 2009, pp. 71-88. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.cpcc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/208839769?accountid=10008, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/002204260903900107.
  2. Neill, Katharine A. The War on Drugs in the American States: Variations in Sentencing Policies Over Time, Old Dominion University, Ann Arbor, 2014. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.cpcc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1612667715?accountid=10008.
  3. Lee, Philip R., M.D., Dorothy R. Lee, and Paul Lee M.Arch. “2010: U.S. Drug and Alcohol Policy, Looking Back and Moving Forward.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 42, no. 2, 2010, pp. 99-114. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.cpcc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/603217705?accountid=10008.
  4. Sacco, Lisa N. \”DRUG ENFORCEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES: HISTORY, POLICY, AND TRENDS *.” Journal of Drug Addiction, Education, and Eradication, vol. 10, no. 4, 2014, pp. 415-441. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.cpcc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1709513054?accountid=10008.

Cite this paper

Issue of Drug Use. (2020, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/issue-of-drug-use/

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