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Substance act of 1970

Substance abuse is an epidemic in the United States. The use of substances, drugs and chemicals that can be used to manufacture drugs have been classified into five schedules or categories that depend on their abuse, acceptable medical use or dependency potential. The scheduling procedures of drugs have been made determined according to their rate of abuse as well as their potential to lead towards severe physical or psychological dependence. Schedule I drugs have the highest abuse potential and lowest possible medical use, whereas Schedule V drugs have a lower threshold for potential abuse. The drugs classified as Schedule V could generally be used as analgesics, antitussive or antidiarrheal but it may lead to limited physical dependence when used in larger quantities, as compared to drugs in Schedule IV. Their potential for abuse should still classify them as being illegal.

The controlled substances Act CSA was introduced in 1970 in order to reduce dependence and decrease drug abuse in the American people by regulating the purchase, sale, productions and use of various drugs. Substances are monitored by DEA who have been given the authority to control both illegal and legal substances. Individual substances each have variations in their effects and level of harm, therefore the CSA categorized them under five schedules, that helped the medical groups as well as law enforcement to understand easily their nature and potential for harm.

The state of New Jersey has led numerous initiatives to prevent drug abuse. Its drug court program in which users are sent for treatment instead of prison, was recently expanded to make it mandatory for some categories of offenders (McCartney, 2015). The drug court judge can impose a sentence and those who caught abusing higher categories of drugs can possibly also face jail time. The criminal code in New Jersey extends jail terms for repeat offenders, and is more inclined towards treating drug abuse as an issue relating more to criminal justice than public health. The laws have led to the incarcerations of multitudes of addicts and drug users.

In New Jersey, the prosecutors distinguish between the sentences for drug users and dealers to a visible extent. Those providers and sellers who have especially sold a quantity that have led to the users death or could potentially lead to death can face stiff sentences or homicide charges that are the same for poisoning or shooting people to death. If someone has skipped treatment programs or have a horrible record, then simple possession can also lead to prison. Although for the simple user, prison is not the first stop, and the time an offender spends in prison could also depend on the quantity of drugs they possessed at the time (Evans Elizabeth, 2011).

It is evident that in the state of New Jersey, punishment over treatment was preferred since the ‘Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1986’ was passed. It led to a major increase in substance related sentences and arrests. With time, prosecutors, judges and attorneys began to question the old approach as prison was not leading towards a reduction of substance abuse, yet jails and cells were being filled endlessly. A new system was established in which offenders with alcohol or drug problems that were non violent were incorporated to treatment programs on probationary terms. This approach involved counselling and treatment along with education, health care and job training. The current system is based on the approach that now favours treatment over punishment, because of better results (Stinchcomb, 2010).

There is a need to reclassify some alcohol and drug related offences. In different states reclassifying nonviolent, low-level drug offences as misdemeanors, according to level of possession have proven to be useful. Since addiction is a disease, it should be treated like one, and the justice system should focus more on treatment of the disease rather than punishment.


Evans Elizabeth, H. D.-I. (2011). High-Risk Offenders Participating in Court-Supervised Substance Abuse Treatment: Characteristics, Treatment Received, and Factors Associated with Recidivism. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 38(4), 510-525.

McCartney, A. (2015). Medicaid Enrollment as a Condition of Drug Court Participation in New Jersey. Journal of Public and International Affairs, 1(1), 44-58.

Stinchcomb, J. B. (2010). Drug courts: Conceptual foundation, empirical findings, and policy implications. rugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 17(2), 148-167.



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