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What Constitutes a "Drug"?

"A common definition of the word 'drug' is any substance that in small amounts produces significant changes in the body, mind, or both.  This definition does not clearly distinguish drugs from some foods.  The difference between a drug and a poison is also unclear... The decision to call some substances drugs and others not is often arbitrary."                                  Weil & Rosen, From Chocolate to Morphine (1983)  

Drug Laws in the United States

Creating laws for the regulation of drugs is tricky.  How do you balance making sure certain drugs remain accessible to the medically needy inside the law,  while being inaccessible to the emotionally/physically needy outside the law?  Is drug dependancy a crime or a disease? 

The study of the law of controlled substances presents  "...a uniquely rich mix of complex legal and policy problems.  A close look at the law of drug crimes reveals unusually tough challenges in how to define them, how to prove them, and how to grade them.  Is drug possession meant to punish drug ownership or physical contact with drugs?  What sort of evidence is sufficient to ascribe an intent to distribute to someone in possession of drugs?...The enforcement of drug laws, meanwhile provides an ideal vehicle for studying...issues like prosecutorial discretion, the use of informants in modern policing, and racial profiling.  And, of course, drug prohibition presents one of the most difficult tests for the theories of punishment...Many theorists and policy analysts believe that drug criminalization is unjust or unworkable." 

  Kreit, Controlled Substances: Crime, Regulation, and Policy (2013)                                                                                                                                                                                   

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Think About It

"Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs."       

  Alexander, The New Jim Crow (2010)

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