On The Right to Get High
Margolin, Allison B.
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CitationOn The Right to Get High (2002 Third Year Paper)
AbstractThis paper argues that the criminalization of drugs, via the criteria the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] uses to put drugs into different schedules, is illegitimate on scientific and philosophical grounds. The most contemporary developments in the study of drug use and drug addiction, undermine the legitimacy of the FDA scheme (as embodied in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970); these developments suggest that addiction to a drug is a result, not a cause, of the psychological difficulties a person may be experiencing while using the drug(s). What is known about drugs suggests that the way a drug is experienced, including whether someone has an addictive relationship with a drug, depends on the â€œsetâ€, or â€œoneâ€™s internal environment and personality characteristicsâ€, and â€œsettingâ€ â€œthe external social and physical environment.â€ Therefore, it is far more than the pharmacological properties of a drugâ€”and those propertiesâ€™ impact on the neurochemistry of an individualâ€”that are responsible for the way a drug is experienced. The FDA scheme ignores â€œsetâ€ and â€œsetting;â€ it magnifies the role of the drugâ€™s pharmacological properties to the drug experience and conflates physical and psychological addiction. The FDA scheme is illegitimate, and through its use in controlling drugs, violates the right animating the spirit of the Constitution and our laws: to stimulate, control, and manipulate oneâ€™s own brain and body. This paper addresses the way in which drug prohibition violates the fundamental right to cognitive liberty, and in doing so fills in some holes in the legal basis for the right to use drugs currently being formulated by attorney Richard Glen Boire.
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