Better Living Through Legislation: The Control of Mind-Altering Drugs
54 Pages Posted: 30 May 2009
Date Written: 1973
Mind-altering drugs have probably always been a concern to human society. During the past several years, however, public concern about the use of mind-altering drugs has risen sharply. The public debate over mind-altering drugs has dealt with many different questions, including the drugs' medical, psychological, and sociological effects, as well as the appropriate societal responses. These questions are closely related and have often been confused with one another. This article will deal in some measure with all of them, but will address itself ultimately to the proper legislative response to the question of what controls should be imposed.
This article generally takes an approach that has been called social cost-accounting. The premise of social cost-accounting is that every law that seeks to control human behavior entails social costs, as well as social benefits, and that laws should be chosen to maximize the excess of benefits over costs. The clear implication is that, at the least, we should choose controls that entail more benefits than costs - or we should have no controls at all. This article does will not attempt to give the proper legislative response to any of the presently troublesome mind-altering drugs; rather, it attempts to provide the beginnings of a calculus by means of which the proper responses can be determined.
Keywords: drugs, criminal law, health law
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