Drug abuse not only affects the developing countries, but also the developed countries and therefore, countries across the world have developed and formulated laws and legislations to combat the menace of drug abuse. Although most governments remain liberal in the use of the non-psychotropic drugs, almost all governments of states in the world remain stringent on the production, manufacturing, and distribution of all psychotropic drugs. Laws and acts dealing with crimes of illegal possession and use of these drugs are in place and enforcement agencies both local and state are in place to enforce the drug laws. Some drug laws enforcing agencies formulate policies and priorities aiming at controlling smuggling and trafficking of drugs, crimes related to drugs, violence, and illegal manufacture of illicit drugs. According to Cook, “Office of the national drug control policy was established by the anti-drug abuse act of 1988, mandated to establish policies and priorities with an objective of eradicating illicit drug use” (2003, p.101). In pursuance of these enforcement policies, the drug laws enforcing agencies meet their sole goal of enforcing the drug laws to reduce cases of illicit drug use and this paper focuses on the same in the state of Texas.
State-level drug laws in Texas
These are the laws formulated to govern the production, manufacturing, possession, and use of illicit drugs in a state, country, or nation as outlined in the nation’s constitution of each specific state or nation. In Texas State, the fight against illegal drugs started back in the 19th century after the formulation of the marijuana tax act. According to Leslie, the marijuana tax act prohibited possession and transfer of marijuana within the state and any violation of this act amounted heavy fine or imprisonment (1982, p.65). This act excludes the possession or transfer of cannabis for medical use or for scientific use but requires heavy excise duty taxes for these medical and scientific uses of this drug.
Alcohol prohibition act was also put in place to combat the use of alcohol in Texas State. This law enforces prohibition of alcohol consumption through the Texas alcohol beverage commission by inspecting, regulating, and supervising all businesses dealing in alcoholic consumption (Boaz & Lynch, 2004, p.39). This act mandates the Texas alcohol beverage commission to make frequent abrupt calls to bars and make arrests of people intoxicated with illicit alcohol. The behavior of the intoxicated people warrants their arrest and subsequent arraignment in court. In one of the arrests, Boaz and Lynch reveal that, “an extremely intoxicated bar patron made sexual explicit movement, which warranted arrest” (2004, p.40). Other than regulation, the Texas alcohol control commission also controls the excessive use of alcoholic beverages, as the law requires.
The controlled substance act establishment helps to control the use of the controlled drugs and involves the regulation of possession, production, and manufacturing of the controlled drugs. Through this act, drugs are either controlled or not controlled and this classification depends on the laboratory results concerning ingredients and active compounds of the drugs. Behaviors of illegal possession or manufacturing of the controlled substances warrant arrests of the victims and subsequent detention with heavy fines levied. The heavy fines levied on the victims aims at discouraging perpetuation of further use or production of these drugs.
Drug- laws enforcement agencies
These are the administrative units, which carry out the implementation of the stipulated acts or laws concerning the possession, use or production of the illegitimate drugs as specified in the constitution. These agencies include, drug enforcement administration, which is a federal law enforcement agency (Silover, 2006, p.48). This enforcement agency deals with smuggling of illegal drugs in and out state of Texas and organizes drugs investigations on drugs smuggling internationally. In addition, the drugs enforcement administration carries out the implementation of all government activities aimed at controlling drugs. Due to the increased concern on drug-abuse among the citizen of Texas State, the drug-enforcement administration agency has advanced its operation by acquiring digital laboratories in their forensic science department. The technological advancement provides quick evidence of any psychotropic drugs use or production and therefore, helps to combat the peril of illicit drug use. For efficient enforcement of the laws concerning drugs, the agency adopts the strategy of narcotic registration including registration and certification of professionals in medicine, scientific research, manufacturers, and pharmacies. This strategy aims at licensing the manufacturer to control production and use of the controlled drugs.
On the contrary, the drug enforcement and administration agency has its limitation in that, its critics hold that, the agency is more stringent on some drugs, which have pharmacological value, and due to the rigorous restrictions, little or no scientific research is done. Moreover, drug restriction should involve the department of health and not a regulating agency alone.
On the other hand, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) serves as an intelligent agency mandated to deal with drug use among other duties as criminal investigations, crimes, and violence. A major mandate of the FBI investigations is to protect the United States from drug related crimes and according to Frum, “in 2007 federal bureau of investigation had 104 court charges on drugs only” (2007, p.34). The investigative unit here carries out its investigations on drug trafficking to the United States from the third world countries and publishes a report. The report acts as the basis for prosecution of the victims or offenders of drug trafficking or smuggling. Cooperation of the FBI and the Office of the Attorney General enables the actual implementations of the recommendations given in the reports. Prosecutions done from the reports discourage any possible subsequent drug trafficking or smuggling hence enforcing drug laws effectively.
Furthermore, the Texas alcoholic commission agency controls the consumption of alcohol and therefore enforces the law on alcohol use. The agency has its own police officers provided by the state to help in the regulation and strict enforcement of the law on alcohol. Intoxication warrants arrest by the police officers and raids on bars, all aimed at the pursuit of reducing the menace of alcohol consumption. Murphy observes that, “…officers contacted a raid in Rainbow lounge, several customers were arrested for intoxication” (2007, p.78). This confirms that this agency not only regulates alcohol use, but also enforces the law on alcohol usage.
Another drug-law enforcement agency is the drug courts, which carry out the prosecution of the drug law offenders. Judgments and fines levied on the offenders depend on the type and quantity of the drug found in possession, in use or distributing. Offenders of less serious crimes such as being under influence of drugs undergo a series of tests, screening, and treatments for the court to ascertain beyond doubt whether they are free to warrant dropping of the case. Failure to comply with these requirements leads to outright removal from the court and imprisonment as the judge purports appropriate for the victim. The good corporation of the other agencies of enforcement with the drugs courts leads to criminalization of drug trafficking, smuggling, illegal manufacturing, and use of these unlawful drugs. Heavy fines levied by the drug courts to the offenders and long imprisonment periods discourage drug offences hence effective enforce drug laws.
Locally, there are numerous religious organizations and groups’ campaigns against excessive use of drugs among the youth. They openly reprimand behaviors related to drugs and condemn media advertisement of drugs such as advertisement of liquor, cigarettes, and other hard drugs. Out of the regular and frequent campaigns against drug use by the media and public lowers the levels of drug use among the target group.
Issues with drug trafficking
One major issue concerning illegal drug trade is the issue of transportation and distribution from the wholesalers to the user. Drug traffickers use different and diverse methods of delivering their goods to their customers including concealing the drugs with other legal tradable goods, sewing the drugs in clothing like in jackets, and impregnating the drugs with consumable foodstuffs on export among other methods. With this advanced techniques of concealing the drugs on transit, then it becomes extremely difficult to seize the drugs and take legal measures on the traffickers. Without the actual arresting of the drug traffickers with the drugs as evidence, then it becomes increasingly impossible to take legal action to the victims and therefore affecting drug law enforcement.
On the issue of distribution, the drug trafficking cartels have well established distribution networks. These networks attract pitiless, aggressive, and rude individuals who distribute the drugs to the users from the wholesalers. The distribution networks secretly violet the drug laws and escape unnoticed. These well-established cartels and networks challenge the schemes put in place to halt the drug distribution and hence no arrests and therefore not prosecution of the drug law breakers.
The prices and high profit margins realized by the drug traffickers influence positively the continuation of the illegal drug trade. In U.S, there is implication of some government agent indulgence in to the trade of drugs because of the profits gained within a short period. This contradicts the law enforcing agencies thus negatively affecting the enforcement of the law.
In addition, the U.S government suppresses research in the production, distribution, and usage of illegal drugs and bars the publication of reports from any research done. This cripples the efforts of the drug law enforcing agencies and sabotages the set law systems of checking the illegal trade of drugs.
On the other hand, the issues surrounding drug trafficking have led to effective enforcement of the law in that, there is intensification of the drug police units in ports of entry and custom authorities are now keen in checking all good in transit. Deployment of the antinarcotics units to take vigil on all borders helps in controlling the transportation of the illicit drugs in and out of the country hence helping to control the menace.
Although drug abuse remain a big problem to both the developed and developing countries, prohibition, regulation, and control legislations continue to be enforced to curb and mitigate the problem because that is the only plausible way to eliminate this social thorn. In Texas State, legislations and enforcement agencies in place helps to control drug abuse and reduce the effects of the drugs to lower levels. Some regulatory strategies adopted by the government including stipulated laws target specific drugs, which are mind stimulating and regulate their production, use, and distribution. The federal law poses strict control measures of combating the drug abuse threat but efficient enforcement agencies carry out the actual implementation process to achieve the intended purpose of enforcing the drug laws.
Boaz, D., & Lynch, T. (2004). The war on drugs. Westport, CT: Green wood
Cook, D. (2003). New drug Czar gets lower rank, promise of higher visibility. Christian Science monitor, 3(4), 101-102.
Frum, D. (2007). How we got here: The 70’s. New York: New York basic books press.
Leslie, P. (1982). The U.S. plans a new drive on narcotics. New York: Macmillan
Murphy, S. (2007). Evidence of injustice. New York: Southern Illinois University press.
Silover, P. (2006). Lawmakers to review bar burst. New York: McGraw-Hill