Legal Aspects of Drug Addiction

Chapter

Abstract

Human societies are regulated by social rules which can be formalised as laws. The ­principles and philosophy upon which laws are based often differ fundamentally from country to country. The law is so closely involved in the regulation of drug addiction because, firstly, the disorder follows the epidemiological model of a communicable, ­‘infectious disease’, and needs containment. Secondly, drug addiction imposes enormous personal, social and economic burdens. The law may also govern the conduct of research into the problems of addiction, both animal and human studies. The debate concerning prohibition or liberalisation of drug legislation has been conducted fiercely for many years and has raised many issues.

The legal situation has unfortunately tended to become polarised with experts and lay people backing up their arguments with purblind opinions rather than firm factual evidence-based reasoning. For example, those enforcing the law may regard any use of illicit drugs as problematic or fundamentally undesirable; those seeking to legalise some forms of drug misuse consider that most such drug use does not raise problems: rather, the problems arise from the illegal designation of much widespread recreational drug use. A major difference between the two sides relates to the effectiveness or otherwise of drug enforcement measures. This is a contentious subject and opinions diverge radically. Whatever the differences, both sides agree that drug use is dangerous. They differ in how to lessen harm. One side advocates legislation, the other a medical approach. Research should be directed towards monitoring outcomes of legal measures to see if their effects in practice attain ­pre-specified goals, say lessening of overall usage or of a particular type of harm.

Keywords

Hepatitis Europe Nicotine Expense Smoke 

References

  1. 1.
    Glaser FB, Warren DG. Legal and ethical issues. pp 399–411 in TBC.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brazier M, Cave E. Medicine, patients and the law. 4th ed. London: Penguin; 2007.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Caspi A, Moffitt T, Cannon M, McClay J, Murray R, Harrington H, Taylor A, Aresnault L, Williams B, Braithwaite A, Poulton R, Craig IW. Moderation of the effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use on adult psychosis by a functional polymorphism in the catechol-o-methyltransferase gene: longitudinal evidence of a gene X environment interaction. Biol Psychiatr. 2005;57:117–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zammit S, Spurlock G, Williams H, Norton N, Williams N, O’Donovan M, Owen M. Genotype effects of CHRNA7, CNRI and COMT in schizophrenia; interactions with tobacco and cannabis use. Br J Psychiatr. 2007;191:402–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Frewer A, Schmidt U, editors. History and theory of human experimentation: the Declaration of Helsinki and modern medical ethics. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag; 2007.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    European Union, Clinical Trials Directive 2001.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    European Union, Good Clinical Practice 2005.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Transform Drug Policy Foundation. Tools for the Debate, Bristol, 2007.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Prescribing heroin: what is the evidence. 2003. http://www.jrf.org.uk
  10. 10.
    Godfrey, C et al. 2002. The economic and social costs of Class A drug use in England and Wales, 2000. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors24.9.pdf.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychiatryKings CollegeLondonUK

Personalised recommendations