Corporations make illegal drugs legal

October 16, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More

Well, not exactly, but the big picture is a disturbing one from the perspective of the millions of people criminally prosecuted every year for seeking to self-medicate using street drugs .  If all of those mind altering street drugs are really “bad,” then they should stay illegal. But maybe it’s not so bad to feel good as long as you’ve got enough money to buy Congress:

[O]ver the last two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has developed a full set of substitutes for just about every illegal narcotic we have. Avoiding the highly charged politics of “illegal” drugs, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, and citizens have thus quietly created the means for Americans to get at substitutes for almost all the drugs banned in the 20th century. Through the magic of tolerated use, it’s actually the other drug legalization movement, and it has been much more successful than the one you read about in the papers.

That’s why drug legalization is happening in a wholly different way. Over the last two decades, the FDA has become increasingly open to drugs designed for the treatment of depression, pain, and anxiety—drugs that are, by their nature, likely to mimic the banned Schedule I narcotics. Part of this is the product of a well-documented relaxation of FDA practice that began under Clinton and has increased under Bush. But another part is the widespread public acceptance of the idea that the effects drug users have always been seeking in their illicit drugs—calmness, lack of pain, and bliss—are now “treatments” as opposed to recreation. We have reached a point at which it’s commonly understood that when people snort cocaine because they’re depressed or want to function better at work, that’s drug trafficking; but taking antidepressants for similar purposes is practicing medicine.

This other drug legalization movement is an example of what theorists call legal avoision. As described by theorist Leon Katz, the idea is to reach “a forbidden outcome … as a by-product of a permitted act.”

For Tim Wu’s full article at, see (“American Lawbreaking“). 


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Category: Consumerism, Law, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Oddly enough, the entire process of substituting legal pharmaceutical drugs for similarly acting readily available natural drugs is a form of decommoditization.

    By replacing competitive free-market commodities, with corporate-controlled substitutes, we are moving from a society based on freedom of choice toward a permission based aristocracy ruled by corporate monarchs and paid for by the cunsumers.

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