Drug policy By: Gabi S., Jenny C., Santi G., Jack W.

Current Issue:

  • Drug Policy- What is it? Why are some legal and others not? Should drugs be legal?
  • Many currently illegal drugs, such as marijuana, opium, cocaine, and psychedelics have been used for thousands of years for both medical and spiritual purposes


Background Info:

  • The government's efforts to stop the spread of drug use seemed to be working, but out of concern that drugs were providing a source of income to organized crime, the enforcement focus shifted from those who bought drugs to those who sold them.
  • As part of this shift, in 1956, Congress passed the Narcotic Control Act, also known as the Daniel Act, which increased the penalties for violation of the previous drug tax laws.
  • The new law raised the fine for all narcotics and marijuana offenses and increased the mandatory minimum sentences, making suspended sentences, probation, and parole for offenders unavailable.
  • By the late 1960s, public attitudes toward drugs had once again shifted.
  • Despite all the efforts by the government to discourage drug use, by 1971, it was clear that the laws were not working as planned.
  • An evaluation of the government's drug policy by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse found that rates of addiction had not dropped significantly.
  • The federal policy toward drugs continued to evolve in the 1980s, in some ways returning to a focus on individual drug users.
  • President Ronald Reagan's drug policy began with First Lady Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.

Arguments that prohibition discourages drug use:

  • A 2001 Australian study, of 18- to 29-year-olds by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research suggests that prohibition deters illicit drug use.
  • The DEA argues "Legalization has been tried before—and failed miserably. Alaska's experiment with legalization in the 1970s led to the state's teens using marijuana at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally.
  • This led Alaska's residents to vote to re-criminalize marijuana in 1990."

Arguments that prohibition does not discourage drug use:

  • The use of drugs by minors is much more difficult to control with drugs prohibited.
  • To effectively regulate the sellers of drugs so as to ensure that they only sell drugs to adults, drugs must be legalized, and the sellers licensed.
  • The difficulty results from the somewhat sophisticated culture of underground drug sales and use that has evolved, with one of the most fundamental adaption mechanisms of this culture that the sellers and consumers act such in such a manner so as to make it as difficult as possible for outsiders to discover information about their activities, including, of course, who is selling to whom.

Trump Stance on Drug Policy:

  • Has criticized states who have legalized marijuana, but finds medical marijuana acceptable
  • Calls for having Medicare directly negotiate drug prices, a task that is currently left up to private plans
  • Claimed decades ago that legalizing drugs was the only way to win the war on drugs

Clinton Stance on Drug Policy:

  • Has a plan to help treat drug and addiction issues with a combination of preventative programs and treatment
  • Supports criminal justice reform to ensure nonviolent drug offenses do not continue to contribute to mass incarceration problem
  • Believes in promoting competition and leveraging nation's bargaining power to lower drug costs on behalf of Americans

Our Stance

We want to put an end to the drug war and legilize the use of durgs, for medical purposes, in the US.


  • Economic Growth
  • Liberties and fighting injustice
  • Medical Reasons:
  • Medical marijuana: can help relieve nausea, reduce pain, limit seizures/ epilepsy, to treat glaucoma, and can stop certian cancers from speading.
  • Cocaine: can help control anxiety and depression, can be used as a topical anesthetic for surgical procedures due to its rapid-acting numbing properties
  • Heroin: can be used as a cough suppressant, serves as a pain reliever and seditive, lowers blood preasure

How were going to restrict it to medical use only:

  • Limit the number of growing plants/distributors
  • Work with the FDA in doing more clinical trials to find more medical benefits of certain drugs
  • Only sell very limited amounts at a time to reduce abuse or sale of prescription drugs

Media Influence:

  • The media is able to sway the public opinion on drugs making them look more evil or less.
  • Media can influence audiences in four key ways:
  • by setting the agenda and defining public interest
  • framing issues through selection and salience
  • indirectly shaping individual and community attitudes towards risk
  • feeding into political debate and decision making.

Congressional Committee Influence:

  • When a committee or subcommittee decides to consider a measure, it usually takes four actions:
  1. The committee requests written comments from relevant executive agencies.
  2. Hearings are held to gather additional information and views from non-committee experts.
  3. The committee works to perfect the measure by amending the bill or resolution.
  4. Once the language is agreed upon, the committee sends the measure back to the full Senate. Often it also provides a report that describes the purpose of the measure.

Executive Orders Influence:

  • Executive orders influence greatly the enactment of the team’s policy.
  • These orders can either create or destroy paths for the passage of policy
  • If an executive branch is in favor or less restrictive drug policy, there may be executive orders enacted to assure that all obstacles in the way of it are brought down, this may be done by limiting the power of some agencies and giving power to those that will help ease it.
  • On the other hand, if the executive branch is resistant to change, there is a closure of a clear path to policy.
  • This executive branch might, enact orders to enforce stronger anti-drug organizations that at the end of the day limit the range of new drug policy.

Bureaucratic Discretion Influence:

  • Bureaucratic discretion could potentially play a big role in determining just how much drugs are available to the public for medical use.
  • The law only establishes the fact that the drugs are legal, but does not mention anything about specific pricing, tax rates, or growth restrictions.
  • This would be up to the bureaucracy, which could decide to make the drugs with very difficult to acquire , and at high prices, or provide a large, sufficient amount of drugs for the medical community at reduced prices.
  • The bureaucracy could either aid the decision Congress makes by executing as intended, or make the lives of Congressmen very difficult

Issue Networks or Iron Triangles Influence:

  • Issue Networks could play a big role in the stance of the policy in the general public.
  • The various interest groups could sway people to either support he bill, or completely despise it, depending on the agenda of the interest group.
  • Those in favor of the bill would release statistics that show the effective results and increase in health of those who use drugs as their treatment.
  • A negative interest group would do the opposite, providing information and examples where the treatment fails, or the person gets addicted to the drug.
  • All this would sway the public opinion in a positive or negative way toward Congress, which could be huge come reelection time.

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