Explain why you think that so many drugs in the United States are illegal but drugs like alcohol and tobacco are still sold in stores.Explain why you think that so many drugs in the United States...

Explain why you think that so many drugs in the United States are illegal but drugs like alcohol and tobacco are still sold in stores.

Explain why you think that so many drugs in the United States are illegal but drugs like alcohol and tobacco are still sold in stores.

Asked on by lexibell47

6 Answers

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The main reason why alcohol and tobacco are sold while other drugs are not is tradition.  It is clear that both alcohol and tobacco are harmful (though alcohol is not necessarily bad in small quantities).  However, these are things that have been used for as long as our country has existed.  This means that their use is woven into the fabric of our society.  For this reason, they seem "normal" to us whereas other drugs do not.

Another reason, related to the first, is that people would never stand for making alcohol and tobacco illegal.  We tried Prohibition of alcohol back in the 1920s and it was a huge failure simply because most people do not believe that alcohol is harmful enough to warrant banning it.

So, it may seem hypocritical to some, but alcohol and tobacco will continue to be sold simply because they are a deeply ingrained part of our culture and banning them would seem to go against the freedom that we treasure.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think it could also be argued (and certainly has been) that the side effects of moderate alcohol and tobacco use are mild compared to the side effects of drugs like heroine or cocaine.

Those who stand for the legalization of marijuana cite statistics to show that it is actually much safer and there are far fewer long-term health risks than those of prolonged alcholism or cigarette smoking.  Though there is much debate about it, here, I agree with the above post.  The negative label marijuana assumed from its onset is likely what is keeping it illegal in this country.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Everything in the United States is regulated by those who are most powerful.  Hemp was originally made illegal because William Randolph Heart, who at one time owned almost all the major newspapers in the country, did not want it used for newspapers because he owned thousands of acres of forest and had paper mills. Whiskey and tobacco have supported many states in past history; powerful companies and people are behind the production of these products.

megan-bright's profile pic

megan-bright | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I believe that in moderation, alcohol is not usually harmful or addictive. However, many other illegal drugs are immediately harmful regardless of the quantity. Tobacco has harmful effects, but it usually takes excessive use over a long period of time to see these effects. Plus, the effects of prolonged tobacco use will not happen to everyone. However, the damaging effects of many illegal drugs happen quicker and do not exclude anyone.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When our country was founded, tobacco was a huge part of or our economy. Smoking was not considered socially unacceptable. In fact, it signified status. It was an elite activity. This legacy continues. Tobacco companies are powerful. It's unlikely cigarettes will ever be outlawed. Alcohol is a different story. It's been more associated with crime and lowlifes. Thus, we've outlawed alcohol, but it didn't stick.

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tutorjim's profile pic

tutorjim | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Historically, alcohol & tobacco have been what some scholars call our "chosen substances", based on social theories of normalisation .
The concept is that a society will choose a substance, and normalise  it within it's society, by building normalisation rituals and protocols around it, which further ingrain it into the accepting society. The chosen substance is usually a substance that is readily available within the society that chooses it, for example in South America among indigenous indians, it is cocoa. Within Europe, where the majority of the original colonists for the thirteen states originated, alcohol was the chosen substance. Tobacco is indiginous to parts of the Americas, and againn this would have been a chosen substance, and became a chosen substance withn europe, not without some issues, King James 1st 's counterblast at tobacco. Substances like opiates, are what are called alien substances, and by default this leads to suspicion and paranoia within the culture, leading to stricter controls on it, hence the sometimes contrasting policies in the control of substances. There are also financial considerations like tax raising , and other political issues like industry pressure groups that also play into the the larger picture.  visit this link for my essay on the topic