SOC 216 - Eric Wade Soc 213 The complex world of drugs and...

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Eric Wade Soc 213 The complex world of drugs and drug legislation has transformed significantly from one century to the next. The creation of such legislation helps reproduce inequality, prejudice, and discrimination against less privileged minority groups in several manipulative ways. There are many explanations for the criminalization of drugs but it is important to understand that the legislation was influenced by mixed motives, morals, racism, and maintaining the status quo. This has been a problem throughout America’s history and in the legislation making processes. Because of drug laws the United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world. An accommodating example of drug legislation that created inequality is through the criminalization of all psychoactive substances and the harsh disciplinary punishment that established imprisonment as the consequence. The research question I have chosen to devote this paper to is: How have the punitive punishment policies of the 19 th and 20 th century reproduced inequality? Drug legislation is product of social and political racial discrimination and prejudice. The opinions, perceptions, tolerability, and legality of psychoactive substances are all socially constructed within the society in which we reside and contribute to the recreation of inequality through discriminatory legislation. This is essential to grasp when trying to comprehend exactly how the nature of the punitive punishment policies of the 19 th and 20 th century created and reinforced inequality. Control of drugs is deemed necessary by society to maintain the status quo in developed societies. I do not promote the use of such psychoactive substances for recreational purpose but I do value the medical utility they posses. Drug legislation was
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originally created to enforced strict laws to keep certain ethnic groups from advancing economically or politically. An awareness of the historical perspective presents the required information to understand how the United States transformed from a country without a drug policy towards a country that adopted and enforces punitive punishment legislation. In the 19th century, almost all psychoactive substances were easily accessible in the U.S, consumed vastly across the country, and regulated by informal means. To get a straightforward picture of early America, it can be depicted as a dope fiend’s paradise. American’s at the time consumed a substantial amount of alcohol as well (Goode, pg. 86 - 87). However, there was no real medical utility of drugs until the prevalence of opium. This was no miracle drug for curing diseases but rather a powerful pain reliever. It was brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants in 1848, who were migrating in massive amounts desiring to build the railroad and work in the mines. The U.S. has a record of importing immigrants to do undesirable work and subsist with the discrimination, prejudice, and inequality in their working and living environments. It is
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This note was uploaded on 04/27/2008 for the course SOC 213 taught by Professor Mccue during the Spring '08 term at New Mexico.

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SOC 216 - Eric Wade Soc 213 The complex world of drugs and...

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