It has always made me laugh that it is legal to take certain drugs that get you drowsy, depressed, or suicidal as side effect.
So what about the who, what, when, where, why and how of drugs that makes it normal for one and illegal for another...
- Who takes it that makes it normal or illegal?
- What makes you take it to make it legal or illegal, basically the concept of people that makes drugs legal or illegal when it is still drug, when, if you take it too much you can overdose (prescribed or not).
- What makes when you drink alcohol at a dinner makes it bad if you see your parent/s drinking it by themselves?
Sociologists would point you towards the role of culture and geography in terms of determining why one drug is legal for one particular location or time period and then illegal for another. You might like to consider the way for example that in Europe smoking is being made illegal in public places and how medical information on the dangers of passive smoking has contributed to this massive change. In addition, consider the way that in some Middle Eastern cultures the smoking of cannabis is acceptable but the drinking of alcohol is forbidden. Cultural norms dictated by religion and history and tradition are key elements in such differences.
Look at the history of Prohibition and you'll know why alcohol is legal. Tobacco is also a powerful part of our country's history. As for the war on drugs, that is political too. The way this country has responded to the War on Drugs has contributed to the problem.
Since alcohol and cigarettes cause a far larger number of deaths in the United States (and most of the world) than most illegal drugs, I have always considered it ludicrous that some relatively safe drugs (such as marijuana) are still outlawed. In case you're wondering why, it's because of the power of the tobacco lobby will never allow cigarettes to be banned, despite their destructive affect to the human lungs. Since most people like to take a drink once in a while, we will never revert to outlawing its consumption as was done during Prohibition. Many countries have decriminalized and/or legalized many drugs that are still illegal in the U.S. without any kind of vast moral decay occurring in those nations.
I agree with post #5. It is very difficult to understand exactly what you are asking. It sounds like this is a discussion of the seeming double-standards imposed on alcohol and drug-use (in America, I presume) by law, and by society.
If this is indeed the discussion, I fully agree that legal vs. illegal when it comes to drugs (prescription and not) seems to be very arbitrarily regulated, I assume, by the FDA. For example, there are many many many legal drugs for anxiety and depression that even in prescribed doses mimic feelings of euphoria or malaise, much like many illegal drugs do. These so called "legal" prescription drugs are not only abused, but often the body becomes dependent on them for normal function. The dose is raised when they seem to cease working, which only increases the risk of side effects, long and short term.
On the other hand, proponents of legalizing marijuana site that it is far healthier, there are fewer side effects, and it poses less risk of dependency - yet, is equally if not more effective in managing pain, anxiety, and stress as many prescription drugs.
This is an extremely broad and open-ended topic that could be narrowed and sharpened in any number of ways. As presently posed, it is very difficult to answer or even respond to. If you can let us know, more narrowly, what precisely you want to have discussed, we will be in a better position to give you thoughtful responses. Perhaps you can re-post the question in a sharper form.
A person can get hooked on legal drugs or alcohol just as easily as on illegal drugs. Society has created a false dichotomy between legal and illegal drugs that the population has largely bought into in public, though it struggles with adhering to it in private. As for Why? Drugs are a diversion, anything from someone just seeking excitement and pleasure to others who are trying to numb the pain or sedate themselves from everyday life. It is not a new problem, and caters to some aspects of human nature that will likely struggle with drug use for the foreseeable future, probably for as long as there are humans and drugs.
Since illegal drugs are almost as easy to obtain today as alcohol or cigarettes, I think one of the major factors in casual use is curiosity and boredom. The police can't monitor every single outlet, so your chances of being caught are surprisingly slim. People get a little bag of whatever just to try it out... and then they're hooked, depending on how strong it is. For weed and many pills, you can just ask your local teen on the corner; they steal the pills from their parents and buy the weed from each other.
Two things: tradition and medicine. Of course, some drugs are legal because they're intended for medical purposes. Those drugs can have side effects, but they're supposed to be beneficial on the whole because they have main effects that are good.
But tradition is what I think you're asking about. Why is alcohol legal and not marijuana? It's because alcohol has been used in our society (and the societies from which we came) since before history and so we are used to the idea that alcohol is not a bad thing. By contrast, marijuana is for the most part much less steeped in tradition. That makes it easier for us to think that it is bad. That's why Prohibition didn't work but making marijuana illegal has staying power.