Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970

Recreational drug use became relatively common in the U.S. in the late 1960s. To combat illegal drug use, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. 

The drug laws before the law weren't adequate to address, for example, the illegal use of prescription drugs.

The act consists of three main parts: Titles I, II, and III. It classifies and outlaws certain drugs. It also allows for research on drug abuse and provides treatment. Changes in drug use in the U.S. after 1970 have resulted in amendments to the act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing controlled substance laws, including the act.

This article summarizes the act's historical background and Titles I, II, and III.

Historical Background of the Act

As noted above, American's recreational drug use seemed to come to a head in the 1960s. Historians note that a counter-culture movement during the '50s and '60s led to the increased use of drugs. Critics of recreational drug use felt that drugs such as methamphetamine, stimulants, and depressants represented a danger to the United States. Specifically, they cited the destruction of the country's morality and public health.

To combat this rise in drug use, President Richard Nixon signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. In 1971, Nixon said that drug abuse was "public enemy number one." He based the "war on drugs" on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) found in Title II of the Act.

The DEA began in 1973. Its goal is that of drug control by enforcing America's drug laws. The DEA is part of the United States Department of Justice.

Over the years, Congress has amended the act. The DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services, among other groups, may propose changes to the act. The act is codified as 21 U.S.C. Section 812.

Title I: Drug Rehabilitation and Education Programs

Title I of the act establishes drug rehabilitation programs for those who abuse or are dependent upon drugs. For example, it allows the government to fund detoxification services, psychological counseling, and community-based services.

It also established educational programs on drug abuse. This reflects a policy that there is a public interest in educating citizens about drug abuse and addiction.

Title II: Controlled Substances Act

An important part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is the Title II section, the CSA. This law consolidated laws on drug manufacturing and distribution. For example, it codified laws on narcotics, hallucinogens, steroids, amphetamines, and other chemicals when used to make controlled substances.

As part of the CSA, the act created a "drug schedule." The schedule classifies drugs into five categories. A drug's category is based on its medical use and potential for abuse or dependence.

A substance doesn't need to be listed as a controlled substance to be treated as one for criminal prosecution. For example, suppose a substance is intended for human use but not approved as a medication. If the substance is substantially like a scheduled drug, the government may consider it a controlled substance for law enforcement purposes.

The CSA's categories are as follows:

Schedule I Drugs

Schedule I drugs do not have mainstream accepted medical uses and have a high potential for abuse. These drugs include heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.

Several states have legalized medical and recreational cannabis. But, the federal government considers cannabis a Schedule I drug. So, cannabis use is illegal under federal law but legal under some state laws.

Schedule II Drugs

These drugs have a high potential for abuse and are also considered dangerous. They have accepted medical uses. Examples of such drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Demerol, OxyContin, Adderall, and Ritalin.

Schedule III Drugs

These drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs include codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV Drugs

These drugs have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, and Ambien.

Schedule V Drugs

These drugs have the least potential for abuse and contain limited quantities of certain narcotics. These medications are usually used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes and may not need a prescription. Schedule V drugs include cough syrups with limited amounts of codeine, Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

Title III: Importation and Exportation, Criminal Forfeiture, and Drug Law Amendments

A less referenced part of the Act is Title III. It amended the law and penalties on the importation and exportation of controlled substances and criminal forfeiture. Forfeiture is when the government confiscates property involved in a crime. Title III also provided legal information for the act's transitional period.

Get Professional Help With Your Drug Charges

Drug charges are serious, although this varies quite a bit state by state. Understanding the consequences of a drug charge conviction is important when considering a plea deal. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your options.

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