U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (Forensic Science)
The U.S. government recognized the problem of drug abuse in the nation at least as early as 1915, when the Internal Revenue Service was charged with drug control. In the fifty-eight years that followed, various federal agencies were involved in enforcing laws dealing with drug possession and use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established when the Nixon administration decided that increased drug trafficking and drug abuse had made it essential for all aspects of federal drug control to be housed in one agency.
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Mission and Organization (Forensic Science)
The DEA was formed from the merging of two federal organizations that were already involved in drug control: the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The new agency provided a centralized means of responding to increased concerns regarding drug trafficking in the United States. As a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DEA was charged with ensuring that the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 were enforced. This act was designed to limit access to certain kinds of drugs and to control drugs of abuse within the United States and internationally.
The DEA is charged with enforcing the laws of the United States that deal with the regulation of controlled substances. The agency is responsible for prosecuting any organizations or individuals suspected of growing, manufacturing, or distributing any controlled substances intended for illegal use within the United States. The DEA is also involved in organizing and supporting programs designed to lessen the availability and illegal use of controlled substances within the United States.
The DEA works in conjunction with the governments of other nations to reduce the importation and availability of drugs of abuse by developing and supporting programs of crop eradication and substitution. The agency also cooperates in efforts with the United Nations, Interpol, and other international...
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Regulation of Controlled Substances (Forensic Science)
The DEA has established a system of registration for medical professionals, researchers, and manufacturers that allows them access to substances that are classified as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. The drugs included in Schedule I are those that are not approved for medical use and have a large potential for abuse. The DEA also mandates the registration of medical professionals to allow them to prescribe Schedule II drugs, which are drugs that do have known medical uses but also have great potential for abuse and great potential to cause dependence. The DEA issues each registered medical professional a unique number that allows the agency to track the distribution of controlled substances.
Many legally prescribed drugs are used for purposes other than those for which they were prescribed, and this diversion of legitimate drugs for illegal purposes is a concern of the DEA. By requiring all medical professionals who prescribe, dispense, or administer prescription drugs to register with the DEA and comply with the agency’s regulatory requirements, the DEA seeks to reduce the diversion of drugs for illegal purposes.
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Agency Effectiveness (Forensic Science)
Some observers have questioned the effectiveness of DEA programs in reducing the availability of illicit drugs, and few high-quality independent evaluations of the programs’ impacts have been conducted. Although the DEA seized more than $1.4 billion in drug-related assets and more than $420 million in drugs in 2005, these figures are negligible compared with the estimated $64 billion in illegal drugs sold in the United States in a given year. Based on this figure, from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, it would appear that the DEA has been relatively ineffective in controlling drug trafficking.
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Further Reading (Forensic Science)
Gray, Mike. Drug Crazy: How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. New York: Random House, 1998. Presents a full description of the abuse of drugs in the United States and suggests various ways in which the problem should be addressed.
Lyman, Michael D. Practical Drug Enforcement. 3d ed. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2007. Describes the methods used by the DEA and other law-enforcement agencies to control drug trafficking and drug use in the United States. Includes comparisons of the variety of enforcement techniques used in different jurisdictions.
Neubauer, David W. America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System. 9th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2007. Comprehensive volume on the American system of criminal justice includes an overview of the laws and punishments associated with drug trafficking.
Robbins, David. Heavy Traffic: Thirty Years of Headlines and Major Ops from the Case Files of the DEA. New York: Chamberlain Bros., 2005. Uses news stories and DEA case files to describe the agency’s work on some particularly important cases.
Sells, David H., Jr. Security in the Health Care Environment. New York: Aspen, 2000. Describes the practices that health care facilities should use to provide safe and effective care for clients while adhering to the laws regarding the dispensing of drugs that are set forth by and enforced by the federal...
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