Illegal drugs

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Drugs are any chemical substances that effect a physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral change in an individual. Drug abuse is the use of any licit or illicit chemical substance that results in physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral impairment in an individual. Illegal drugs are drugs whose possession and/or use is forbidden by law (in most jurisdictions) due to their harmfulness and, usually, lack of therapeutic use. The Bible generally prohibits the use of drugs such as these. The most common illegal drugs are:

  • Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) is the common hemp plant, which provides hallucinogens with some varying psychoactive properties. Other names for the Cannabis plant prepared for use are: Marijuana, Pot, Acapulco gold, Grass, Weed and Reefer. The main psychoactive ingredient within Cannabis is Delta-9-Tetrahydroannabinol (THC). There are three different preparations of Cannabis: Marijuana (Ground flower buds and/or leaves), Hashish (Pressed Cannabis Trichomes) and Hashish Oil (Ethanol extracted Cannabinoids). Although marijuana is illegal there are many groups researching its therapeutic properties and painkilling properties for people with chronic pain or disease.
  • Coca (mostly Erythroxylum coca) is a bush with leaves that contain cocaine. Coca is not to be confused with cocoa, which comes from cacao seeds and is used in making chocolate, cocoa, and cocoa butter.
  • Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca bush.
  • Hallucinogens are drugs that affect sensation, thinking, self-awareness, and emotion. Hallucinogens include LSD (acid, microdot), mescaline, and the cacti that coatain it: peyote and san pedro (mexc, buttons, cactus), amphetamine variants (PMA, STP, DOB, DOM, 2C-I, 2C-E), phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust, hog), phencyclidine analogues (PCE, PCPy, TCP), and others (psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, ayahuasca).
  • Heroin is a semisynthetic derivative of morphine.(diacetylmorphine)
  • Opium is the brown, gummy exudate of the incised, unripe seedpod of the opium poppy. It contains over 20 different alkaloids, but the most important of these are morphine and codiene.
  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the source for the natural and semisynthetic opiates.
  • Poppy straw is the entire cut and dried opium poppy-plant material, other than the seeds. Opium is extracted from poppy straw in commercial operations that produce the drug for medical use.
  • Qat (kat, khat) is a stimulant from the buds or leaves of Catha edulis that is chewed or drunk as tea. It contains cathinone, a natural stimulant structurally similar to ephedrine.

Legal (pharmaceutical) drugs are also often used for recreational (i.e., non-therapeutic) purposes. Such use is usually illegal. Drugs often illegally abused in this manner include:

  • Some cough suppressants, mainly any formulation which contains dextromethorphan (Robitussin, Delsym), are used in high doses to produce dissociative hallucinations, much like phencyclidine or ketamine. Althouth available over the counter in most states, frequent or long-term use of these high doses can lead to toxic psychosis.
  • Depressants (sedatives) are drugs that reduce tension and anxiety and include chloral hydrate, barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan), methaqualone (Quaalude or Mandrax), glutethimide (Doriden), and others (Equanil, Placidyl, Valmid).
  • Narcotics are drugs that relieve pain, often induce sleep or a type of "euphoria," and refer to opium, opium derivatives, and synthetic substitutes. Natural narcotics include opium (paregoric, parepectolin), morphine (MS-Contin, Roxanol), codeine (Tylenol #3, Empirin with codeine), and thebaine. Semisynthetic narcotics include heroin (horse, smack), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Synthetic narcotics include meperidine or Pethidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose, Actiq), and others (Darvon, Vicodin, Oxycontin).
  • Stimulants are drugs that relieve mild depression, increase energy and activity, and include cocaine (coke, snow, crack), amphetamines (Methamphetamine, Desoxyn, Dexedrine), ephedrine, ecstasy (clarity, essence, doctor, Adam), phenmetrazine (Preludin), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and others (Cylert, Sanorex, Tenuate).

Arguments for legalization

Whilst there are undoubtedly arguments against legalizing particular or all recreational drugs, there are arguments to the contrary.

  • Crime. Some argue that the primary immorality associated with illicit drugs is the resultant drug-related crime. The cocaine industry is notoriously immoral, whilst a legal industry would almost certainly be far less so. Celerino Castillo, a twenty-year veteran of law enforcement (including twelve years in the Drug Enforcement Administration), calls the drug war a "vile and despicable presence doing irreparable harm to all of the American landscape," and insists that legalization is the only real solution to eliminating drug cartels and gangs.[1]
  • Human Rights. It has been suggested that it is a human right to have access to recreational drugs, and that it is immoral of the government to prevent this. However, this argument is not without criticism. Drug use may lead to a user negatively affecting the lives of others.
  • Futility of criminalization. The laws on illicit drugs cannot be effectively enforced and drugs are easy to procure. When a law cannot be effectively enforced, it is of questionable merit. Also, since alcohol is a dangerous, legal alternative, people will frequently turn to it instead, which is arguably no better.

References

  1. Drug War Doing Irreparable Harm, Brownsville Herald, 3 March 2008.

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