Society and Drug Use: a Sociological Perspective

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In all societies, there are substances that are deemed as both not acceptable and acceptable for consumption. The laws today are a result of ever changing societal norms. Before a particular drug is discovered, it is not illegal; it simply exists in nature. When that substance is introduced into a society, it must be determined if its effects are in line with the societies morals which may be in large part regulated by the dominate religion. If it is proven to be beneficial to the society and abides by the social morals its use is largely unregulated. If an individual in that society that is not a part of the dominate religion uses an illegal substance, are they exhibiting deviant behavior or practicing their freedom of religion? Of…show more content…
For example, the hippie or stoner stereotype that is placed on marijuana. These stereotypes often make their way into common language such as referring to someone as a crack-head, whether or not they use crack cocaine. Deviant behavior can actually be beneficial to society as it provides jobs for law enforcement, affirms cultural values and norms, clarifies moral boundaries, and responding to deviance brings people together (Macionis, 2009, p. 222-223). The Effect of Prohibition and Education on Drug Use Prohibition of substances has proven to be ineffective at lowering demand. For most of America’s history, both alcohol and cannabis (marijuana) were legal. During the prohibition of 1920, alcohol moved to the black market while leaving cannabis legal. This made drinking somewhat dangerous as there were now no controls on how it was produced and one may be stricken blind by gin that was prepared in a bathtub in an incorrect manner. The prohibition also allowed organized crime to capitalize on the demand of alcohol and in turn resulted in increased violence. As long as there is demand, someone will supply a product. The prohibition on alcohol was lifted in 1933 and on August 2, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act which enforced a new type of prohibition that is still in place (Fox, 2009, p. 49). Education of the dangers of using tobacco products resulted in
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