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What Is the Controlled Substance Act? by Russell Michelson

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first federal law that restricted cannabis, and hundreds of laws followed that ramped up the prohibition of a plant historically viewed as medicine. The Harrison Act, the Marihuana Tax Act and the Boggs Act all represent an escalation of the war against cannabis, but the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the federal law primarily enforcing the current prohibition. The CSA, prepared by Attorney General John Mitchell at the request of President Richard Nixon, was passed by the 91st U.S. Congress in 1970 and signed by Nixon. The law replaced the Marihuana Tax Act (deemed unconstitutional the year before by the Supreme Court), consolidated several other laws and expanded the federal government’s role in enforcing drug laws and prohibition. A few years later, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to serve as the lead agency enforcing drug laws and overseeing changes (along with the Food and Drug Administration) to the CSA’s five Schedules. One of the most controversial aspects of the CSA was a Schedule I classification for cannabis and non-psychoactive hemp. This put cannabis in the same category as heroin, MDMA, mescaline and peyote—i.e., dangerous drugs of abuse with absolutely no medical value—suggesting the government deems cannabis to be worse than Schedule II drugs like crack cocaine, crystal meth and opium. Furthermore, the CSA made it a Class 1 federal felony for medical professionals and researchers to conduct legitimate studies on cannabis, which made it difficult to prove the safety and medical benefits of the plant that might justify a schedule change. Speaking of which, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied a petition to reschedule cannabis in 2001. The denial notice said that no evidence disputes the plant’s danger, abuse potential and lack of medical value.

The Controlled Substance Act was created to set regulations for distribution, possession, use or the selling of specified substances. When a substance is listed as “controlled”, that means the government has set laws and regulations to control the use or distribution. 

Depending on the state, the laws may vary. They may be similar to federal laws or may be more lenient. Some states require you to have a higher amount of the substance on hand in order to get convicted. They can be measured by ounces, grams, kilograms, or pounds. The type of drug plays a huge role too. Some drugs have a higher chance of abuse compared to others. 

The controlled substance act divides each drug into schedules. There are five schedules and it is divided by how addictive the drug is and the potential of physical or psychological dependence. To learn more go to the link below: ℗ is your source to learn about the broad and beautiful spectrum of our shared History.