Drug Legislation’s History and Where It Stands Today

Drug Legislation’s History | Integrated Pain Consultants, Scottsdale, AZ

Drug Legislation’s History and Where It Stands Today

America’s history of drug legislation is surprisingly young, and filled with staggering revelations. Integrated Pain Consultants prioritize alternative, natural pain management approaches before considering a drug-based approach.

However, most of us aren’t aware of the short and shady history of drug legislation in the country, and it can be a real eye-opener.

Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of scare tactics, exaggeration and a strong sprinkling of ignorance in many cases. For instance, marijuana has only been “illegal” for less than a century. It all began in the 1930s when the former Federal Bureau of Narcotic head, Harry Ansligner, claimed that marijuana led to “criminal insanity” before Congress. Claiming that it caused “homicidal mania” after just a few drags off of a joint, he, of course, had zero scientific evidence to support his story—but that didn’t seem to matter. It’s led to a habit of lacking such evidence when the government creates and re-visits policies.

In other cases, the use of some drugs (such as prescription opioids) is widely supported by powerful entities such as insurance companies. The U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, particularly in some regions such as Pennsylvania. In fact, the addiction epidemic statistics are shocking. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 91 people in America die of opioid abuse every day. The vast majority of drug overdose deaths involve opioids, and the amount of overdoses has quadrupled in less than 20 years.

However, health insurance policies are much more likely to pay for prescription drugs than alternative care such as acupuncture. Thus, both patients and doctors go to prescription drugs, even when they’re highly addictive, rather than more natural options. All parties, including insurance companies, know that money is a major driving factor for the majority of people. This has led to a dangerous cycle, fed by both powerful insurers as well as drug legislation.

Americans have a mindset that as long as certain drugs are legislated as “legal,” they’re relatively safe and an acceptable choice. Opioids are kissing cousins to heroin. The big difference? The former is legislated as acceptable, and the latter is not.

History in the Making

Marijuana has received incredible attention in the media since it was criminalized circa 1940—particularly now that it’s been legislated as legal for recreational use in some states. In 1937, the first significant federal marijuana legislation was approved: The Marijuana Tax Act. Anslinger played a significant role in its passing, though surprisingly the actual Act didn’t mention any of his so-called dangers. It also didn’t make it illegal for medical or recreational use. Rather, a massive tax was put on the drug, which immediately made it too costly for physicians to prescribe or for anyone to buy for recreation. Violate the act, and the punishment was harsh. You could easily snag five years in prison and/or a $2,000 fine (in 1937 dollars).

The American Medical Association complained about the Act because it also required doctors who prescribed marijuana to keep detailed and personal records above and beyond like records of the time. These records required an open door viewing policy from the government, which of course led to worries about Big Brother tactics. Doctors worried that their confidentiality with patients might be compromised, which further deterred them from prescribing marijuana for pain management. As early as the 1930s, one physician (Dr. William Woodward) told Congress in a hearing that such a tax was dangerous as “future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses” for marijuana. He also railed against Anslinger for lack of scientific evidence but was ultimately defeated.

Today, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) manages drug regulation at the federal level. The CSA is in charge of drug manufacturing, distribution, and what happens when a person is caught with so-called controlled substances. Drugs are classified via a variety of “schedules” including the potential for abuse, current medical usage, and safety while under medical supervision. The most regulated are Schedule 1 drugs that have a high abuse potential, no seeming medical usage in the U.S., and/or are considered unsafe even with medical supervision.

Drugs: The Unclear Status of American Politics

Federally, marijuana remains one of the CSA’s “most dangerous” drugs. In most states, it can’t be prescribed, bought, sold or possessed for medical or recreational usage. It doesn’t matter that there’s no such thing as a “marijuana overdose.” Other drugs, such as opioids, aren’t considered as dangerous by the CSA—they’re over-prescribed according to many physicians.

Federal legislation of drugs directs how many people see drugs, think of them, and utilize them—or not. Drug rehabilitation facilities have been around in one form or another since circa 1750, well before the formation of legislation of drug usage. It’s important to consider what “drugs” are, from caffeine to heroin, how addiction works, and how legislation can play a significant role in drug use and abuse (for better or worse). Blindly trusting the government has never been the best approach, and yet drug legislation is relatively more accepted than other rules and suggestions the government puts forth.

Do you want a more natural strategy for pain management? Contact Integrated Pain Consultants today for a complimentary workers’ compensation consultation at 480-626-2552. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie CosijnsDr. Lisa SparksDr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.



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