Effects of Drugs on the Economy Capstone Project

Excerpt from Capstone Project :

Drugs on the Economy

History of drugs in the United States

How drugs affect the United States Economy both positively and negatively

How decriminalization of drugs like marijuana stand to lessen the burden on tax-payers

Wonder drugs like morphine, heroine, and cocaine to mention but a few pose a lot of problems to the entire American society. Americans have had to grapple with the deleterious effects of drug abuse and addiction. Restrictions were imposed at the beginning of the 20th Century through domestic and overseas law enforcement to contain the drugs epidemic. Such enforcements were initiated to limit opium and cocoa crops (Drug Enforcement Administration, 2012). This term paper seeks to give a brief history of drugs in the United States of America and subsequently outline how drug use affects the American economy both positively and negatively. The paper also endeavors to list how decriminalization of drugs like marijuana stands to lessen the tax burden on taxpayers.

History of drugs in the United States

Nonmedical use of drugs in the United States dates back to the 1900. During these times there were many addicts than there are presently. The adult population was greatly affected. The use of morphine and its derivatives in medical operations during these times worsened the situation. Morphine was used as a painkiller after surgical operations. Its use during the civil war was extensive and this became a major topic of discussion in the media. Apart from addiction prompted by painkillers given after a surgical operation, morphine addiction could also be attributed to patent drugs that were sold over the counter those days. These drugs had high morphine content (Whitebread, 1995). Contrasted to present circumstances a larger chunk of adult population were victims of drug addiction in the 1900s.

To check against the spiraling drug addiction and abuse situation at the onset of 1900, the government in 1906 instituted the Pure Food and Drug Act. This law created FDA in Washington that ensured that food and drugs meant for human consumption were approved. This ensured patent medicine was not approved for human consumption after they were tested. The Act articulated that certain drugs could only be sold on prescription. Drugs that were potentially habit forming had to be labeled 'habit forming'. The Act put proprietors of patent medicines out of business. This reduced chances of accidental addiction. This Act potentially reduced levels of addiction among the population despite the fact that it was not a criminal law (Whitebread, 1995).

The Harrison Act was the first criminal law to criminalize non-medical use of drugs. The Harrison Act was instituted and came into force in 1914. The Act specifically targeted Opium, morphine and its derivatives, and cocaine. The Act was intended to regulate the medical use of morphine and its derivatives, opium, and cocaine. It also intended to criminalize the non-medical use of these drugs. Meanwhile it was originally called Harrison Tax Act. Doctors had to pay a dollar annually to be allowed to prescribe these drugs to their patients. They had to strictly adhere to the regulations in the statute. Second tax totaling a thousand dollars was imposed on single non-medical exchange of morphine, opium, and cocaine (Whitebread, 1995). This second tax was a criminal prohibition meant to discourage consumption of these drugs. If someone was found illegally possessing these drugs he was charged with tax evasion.

Between 1915 and 1937, approximately 27 states passed legislations that criminalized the use of marijuana. These legislations were put in place especially in the Rocky Mountains and south western states to deter migrant Mexicans from bringing marijuana to these states. The laws were meant to be hostile to the migrant Mexicans who used marijuana. States in the North East like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York…, instituted marijuana laws because of fear of substitution (Whitebread, 1995). They wanted to prohibit marijuana use before marijuana was introduced in these states. The fear was that heroine and narcotics addicts who feared the consequences of Harrison Act would resort to marijuana use. Utah State was the pioneer in terms of enacting a criminal law against marijuana use. The legislation was not prompted by fear of migrant Mexicans who could probably introduce marijuana as seen in other 26 states. The legislation was occasioned by the state's history of Mormonism (Whitebread, 1995).

The Marijuana Tax Act was instituted in 1937. Marijuana Tax Act was supposed to prohibit cultivation of marijuana in America because the drug was addictive and produced criminality, insanity and death. In the period 1938 to 1951 after marijuana prohibition law had been passed, incidences of violation of national marijuana prohibition were reported among the jazz musicians. This led to the arrest of a number of jazz musicians in the late 1940s. The Boggs Act of 1951 quadrupled the penalties in every single offence category. It introduced a new rationale for marijuana prohibition (Whitebread, 1995). Contrary to a popular belief that marijuana made its users insane, desire to engage in criminal activities and eventually occasioned their deaths, it was later postulated that marijuana produced passivity contrary to criminality. The reason behind marijuana prohibition in 1951 was that its use was a stepping stone to heroin addiction. Marijuana just like Opium, morphine and its derivatives, and cocaine were all clamped into one category. This piece of legislation coincided with both the Korean and Cold Wars. The press reported depicted foreign enemies as using drugs to subvert the American youth (Whitebread, 1995).

In 1946 the Daniel Act came into force. The law introduced harsher penalties in every offense category to deter increase in drug use. Possession of marijuana became the heavily penalized crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years with no parole, probation or suspended sentence. Sale of marijuana earned an individual a mandatory minimum of forty years in prison.

The 1969 Dangerous substances Act abandoned the taxing mythology. This Act classified all drugs except nicotine and alcohol by the drugs medical use and their potential for abuse. Penalties were therefore decided on basis of possession, possession with intent to sell, sale, and sale to minor. Schedule one drugs included marijuana and hashish (Whitebread, 1995). They were categorized here because they had a very high potential for abuse. Barbiturates and amphetamines were classified as having high potential for abuse. The 1969 Act other than abandoning the taxing mythology lowered the penalties in every offense category.

How drugs affect the United States Economy both positively and negatively

Abuse of drugs affects all aspects of lives of American citizens. The economic cost of drug trafficking and abuse immensely weigh on American tax-payers. These costs are estimated at 215 billion dollars. The criminal justice system and health care system bears the brunt of these burdens. Drug abuse has resulted into lost productivity and environmental destruction. Data obtained from NSDUH in 2008 attest to 14.2% of individuals aged 12 years and above having used illicit drugs in the year 2007. The data showed that marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug. This totaled 25.8 million people. Psychotherapeutics came second to marijuana with 15.2 million people reported to have used it in 2008 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). This was for nonmedical purposes. This reflected a marked decrease in its use considering that 16.3 million people were reported to have used it in 2007. A total of 15.3 million individuals aged between 12 years and over used cocaine in 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). Methamphetamine was used by approximately 850, 000 people according to the report. The NSDUH report also pointed that 453, 000 used heroine in the year 2007. Rates of drug use were highest among young adults aged 18 to 25. In fact 33.5 per cent of this cross section of population reported drug use in 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010).

Illicit drugs have deleterious effects on their users. These range from causing permanent physical and emotional damage to breakage of marriages, family disunity and altercations among co-workers. Illicit drug use leads to sicknesses and diseases often leading to premature deaths. Premature deaths are normally occasioned by drug overdoses (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). When a parent dies out of drug related complications the children are left under the care of foster parents and relatives.

Drug law violations often lead to incarceration, meaning the individual who would be living a constructive life and helping build the economy of the U.S.A. And taking care of the family would be wasting away in the jails, with no one to fill the gap left hence dragging the economy behind.

Illicit drug use heavily impacts the health and health care systems. Under certain circumstances users of illicit drugs have to be accorded specialized treatment and ED visits. Their stay in hospital is also protracted. The 2008 NSDUH data attest to 7 million individuals aged 12 years and above being dependent on drugs especially marijuana, prescription pain relievers and cocaine. These individuals seek treatment.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS-2008) indicate that approximately 1.8 million admissions to…

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