“Just say ‘No!’.” Drugs have not been discussed frankly and openly in US politics since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was passed. The framework passed then set up five categories or “schedules” of drugs based on their medical use and potential for abuse and how they would be regulated. Over the years laws that reinforce this regulatory structure have been passed and criminal penalties raised and lowered, but the basic concept has remained solid.

Since that time, however, many changes have occurred on the fringes of “drug” use in the US. Tobacco use has been banned from most public places and drinking ages were raised to curb their use. Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic. Caffeine consumption has roughly tripled and is now available in high purity. Even marijuana, criminalized since 1937, has become de facto legal in several states.

Treatment programs are available for anyone who wants to stop using any of these “drugs”, but some of them have to watch out for the laws that stand in their way. Is it time to completely revamp how we regulate and criminalize “drugs”?

Continue reading