Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970

Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970


Federal regulation implemented on October 27, 1970 under Public Law No. 91-513 – the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (CDAPCA 1970) imposes strict physical security and record handling on specific kinds of drugs. According to Allen and Popovich (2004), CDAPCA consolidates and codifies control of authority over specific drugs potentially abusive into a single stature (p.14). The 1970 Act of CDAPCA acts as a forfeiture of property law in relation to controlled substances preventing and controlling capable individuals from abusing illegally categorized drug products (Hyde, 1995 p.25). By far, the 1970 regulatory drug act has been branded as the “most far-reaching federal statute” in the entire history of American society because of its distinct assertion and strict federal reinforcements on every angle or degree of drug offense at any level of scope (Robinson and Scherlen, 2007 p.26). CDAPCA is commonly referred to as the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which is the legal basis of federal war against illegal drugs and other substance related to drug abuse. Originally, the main intent of the drug law focuses on (a) rehabilitation, (b) research, and (c) education in relation to drug abuse and its dangerous effects on human health and society. However, as supported by Goldberg (2005), the act has expanded well in the community extending as well its reach against drug abusers (p.77). By implementing five sets of drug schedules, the regulatory law is able to perform its primary legislative purpose. The five schedules are used to direct penalties, impose the level of restriction and categorize the dangers present among defined illegal drugs. With the regulatory law of Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965, the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 and other associated laws governing the usage of illegal and potentially abused drugs (e.g. depressants, stimulants, narcotics, and hallucinogens, etc.), federal law has appointed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the Department of Justice as a supervisory and principal enforcer of the said act (Allen and Popovich, 2004 p.14).


Purpose and Design of the Act

            The 1970 CDAPCA or commonly referred to as Controlled Substance Act, Title II of CDAPCA 1970 works by consolidating many regulatory laws on manufacturing and distribution of drug categories that can be health-threatening, such as depressants, hallucinogens, steroids, narcotics and illegal substances with similar threatening effects (e.g. marijuana, etc) (Robinson and Scherlen, 2007 p.26). According to Craven and Hirnle (2006), the U.S Congress primary purpose for implementing the act has always been associated to (a) prevention, (b) control and (c) legalization (aimed at triggering public strain against drugs) (p.555). Controlled Substance Act aims to prevent drug abuse and dependence, provide treatment and rehabilitation for individuals manifesting signs and symptoms of drug dependence. Furthermore, the act further strengthens the federal legislative powers against the government’s war (initiated by Pres. R. Nixon, 1971) against drug dealers and producers, rather than users (Allen and Popovich, 2004 p.14).Regulatory law against drug abuse (CDAPCA 1970) also imposes participations from different public and private firms to the campaigns against drug abuse, dependence, possession and distribution. According to Craven and Hirnle (2006), CDAPCA also requires health care institutions’ and providers’ aid in preventing potential abuse of these drugs by imposing (a) prescription standards in utilizing these drugs, (b) safe keeping under strict institutional surveillance, and (c) appropriate tracking of drug delivery and administration (p.555). Added by Galanter and Kleber (2008), the enactment of CDACPA 1970 has triggered medical institutions, drug manufacturers and local reinforcements under DEA in implementing strict safe keeping, prescription and surveillance of drug usage preventing potential harm of drug abuse from the user up to the concerned society (p.596).

Prompting Components and Legislators Behind

Prior to the establishment of CDAPCA of 1970, the primary instrumentation against drug-related offenses was enforced through state drug laws based on national drug policy per independent state (Robinson and Scherlen, 2007 p.26). According to Galanter and Kleber (2008), late 19th century up to middle 20th century became the advent of extreme opioid addiction, especially among the Civil War veterans and their extreme addiction over opioid substances (p.596). Different statutory laws were established by U.S Congress to resolve these drug problems and influences, such as 1906 Food and Drug Act, 1909 Opium Exclusion Act, etc (Burns, Page and Atsoy, p.59). However, the banning of opium and related drugs became signs of racist legislation conflicting to the interests of both black and white societies (Robinson and Scherlen, 2007 p.22). Eventually, the growing opioid addiction was addressed through the enactment of Harrison Act in 1914 (Strauss, 2000 p.171; Galanter and Kleber, 2008 p.596). Apparently, Harrison Act was not entirely clear about opium restrictions and regulatory laws on drug abuse (Marrion, 1994 p.82; Redda, Walker and Barnett, 1989 p.). In fact, according to Robinson and Scherlen (2007), the act was entirely a necessity to avoid U.S. federal embarrassment in dealing with other nations, especially Shanghai Commission’s call for Opium resolution (p.22). In 1970, Narcotics Treatment Administration (NTA) was established by Pres. R. Nixon and another proponent – Dr. Robert Dupont – as the organization’s formal director. NTA led the discovery on heroin addiction among American military personnel (Fernadez, 1998 p.217; Rowe, 2006 p.29). Markedly June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the significant event on “War against Drugs” launching strict policies and regulatory statutes governing drug control and usage (Robinson and Scherlen, 2007 p.26; Denning, 2004 p.223). In 1970, the bill was passed in the senate house with marked absence of any opposition from its members (Jenson and Fraser, 2006 p.204). The 1970 CDAPCA became the official regulatory law defining important terms concerning drug abuse and associated substances, changing the sentences imposed for violations, and establishing drug schedules according to set of criteria concerning drug substance characteristics and their potential for abuse (Hamid, 1998 p.88; Rowe, 2006 p.40). According to Goldberg (2005), CDAPCA of 1970 “had the effect of repealing, replacing, or updating all previous federal laws dealing with narcotics and dangerous drugs” (p.77).


            DEA under the umbrella of U.S. Department of Justice categorized the commonly abused and life-threatening drugs as narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and cannabis (Faupel, 1991 p.152). The regulatory law establishes a closed system for controlling substance except for the ultimate legalized user (Abood, 2005 p.262). According to Troy, Remington and Beringer (2005), hospitals, pharmacies, researchers, drug manufacturers and medical core groups are all covered in the direct regulation, registration and implementation of CDAPCA 1970 (p.2041). According to Galanter and Kleber (2008), scheduling are usually governed by sets of criteria of potential for abuse, accepted medical use in U.S. society and potential for addiction (p.596). The criteria for the establishments of schedules utilized by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under the guidance of U.S. Justice Department are as follows (Goldberg, 2005 p.77; McVeigh and Wolfer, p.61): (1) the drug’s potential for abuse, (2) scientific knowledge of the drug, (3) the drug’s capacity to produce psychic or psychological dependence, (4) the drug’s pharmacological effects, (5) drug’s risk to public health, (5) drug’s history, duration, scope and current patterns of abuse, and (6) whether the drug is an immediate precursor of substance already controlled under this title (from DHHS Official Criteria on Drug schedule evaluation). Drug schedule categories are as follows (cited in Allen and Popovich, 2004 p.14): (1) Schedule I: Drugs with no accepted medical use – heroin, LSD, mescaline, peyote, methaqualone, marijuana and similar substances, (2) Schedule II: Drugs with accepted medical use but with high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence – morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, amobarbital, etc, (3) Schedule III: Drugs with accepted medical uses but may lead to moderate side-effects – codeine, hydrocodone, etc., (4) Schedule IV: Drugs with medical uses but may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence – diphenoxin, diazepam, oxazepam, etc., and (5) Schedule V: Drugs with medical uses but have the least risks of abuse and dependence – dihydrocodeine, diphenoxylate, etc. Usage of Schedule III and IV drugs are available with corresponding medical prescription, but only permitted to a maximum of five refills within 6 months. On the other hand, Schedule V drugs are made available over-the-counter due to its low-grade based on scheduling criteria (McKenzie, Pinger and Kotecki, 2005 p.350; Galanter and Kleber, 2008 p.596). According to Goldberg (2005), penalties and legal consequences for distributing, manufacturing and possessing psychoactive drugs largely depend upon the type of drug used according to the schedules imposed (p.77). According to Galanter and Kleber (2008), high security storage, detailed records and manufacturing quota are being implemented by DEA and DHHS to ensure accurate surveillance for Schedule I and II drugs, which possess high potency for abuse (p.596). As for CDAPCA schedule enforcements, drug policing agencies (e.g. DEA, DHHS, etc.), medical core organizations (e.g. FDA, etc.) and private institutions work hand-in-hand to continue the war against drug abuse.


            In conclusion, the policy – Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 – has always served the purpose of consolidating regulatory laws on manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs by their campaigns oriented to drug prevention, surveillance, rehabilitation, research and legalization. After Pres. R. Nixon formalized the war against drugs prompted by the heroine and opium addiction primarily in the military, CDAPCA of 1970 (a.k.a. Controlled Substance Act of 1970) has become the main foundation of Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Health and Human Services on their enforcement proceedings and scheduling of illegal drugs.


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