Drug Classification

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Ifyou were asked to designate classes of drugs to be licit which wouldyou choose?

Accordingto the English dictionary, the term “licit” refers to anythingthat is considered legal, conforms to the requirements of the law ofthe land and is therefore not forbidden by law. In this context,licit drugs refer to those drugs that are used in line with the lawof the land. These may include caffeine, tobacco and alcohol amongothers. If asked to designate classes of drugs to be licit, I wouldchoose medicinal drugs used to cure illnesses, drugs purchased overthe counter and used as directed by health officials, andprescription medicinal drugs used for the prescribed purpose and bythe intended user.

Factorto consider in making the assignments

Inmaking the assignments, the first factor to consider is whether thedrug is allowed or forbidden by law. This means that its production,sale and consumption are permitted by the laws and regulations of theland. That would explain the reason why caffeine, alcohol and tobaccoare in the list. In addition to this, the reason behind itsconsumption would be a determining factor in classifying the drug aslicit or illicit. When used as a medicine to cure an illness, or forthe intended purpose, it would be considered a licit drug. The drugin question must not be harmful, addictive or cause people to behavein a different manner. This may be paradoxical to an extent,especially owing to the fact that caffeine and tobacco are addictive,while alcohol tends to interfere with personal judgment. Tobacco andalcohol may also prove to be harmful to human health with prolongeduse or when abused (White,2008).

Whatthings would you see as important in defining harm?

Theharmfulness of a drug refers to the potential of the drug to causephysical or psychological damage/ hurt to the user. Lots of drugscontain intoxicating effects that often lead to their misuse andsubsequent harmful effects. Both legal and illegal drugs when usedfor unintended purposes are capable of causing lots of harm to theusers. Harm can be experienced in many forms ranging from death,physical illness or injury, mental illness or mental instability. Adrug may be harmful when its use cases the hurt/ damage like in thecase of heroine which may cause irreversible brain damage or evendeath. On the other hand, the harmfulness of a drug may beexperienced when an individual injures themselves or others during astate of intoxication, for instance performing criminal activities ordeath from a car accident in a state of drunkenness (Nuttet.al. 2007).

Asstated above, the harm from a drug may be experienced by the user aswell as those surrounding the user of the drug.

Arethere harms that are introduced or avoided by the legal or illicitstatus of a substance?

Thelegal status of a drug is more likely to introduce harm as opposed toavoiding it. This is due to the fact that to consider drugs as legalor illegal, governments rely on the justification that illegal drugsare dangerous, addictive and cause users to behave antisocially. Withthis in mind, all licit drugs are considered safe, non-addictive andunlikely to cause users to behave in antisocial behavior. As aresult, people would have a tendency to misuse the licit drugs forinstance alcohol and tobacco, which would eventually end up beingharmful to the user.

Diminishingthe harmfulness of drugs would be through the creation of awarenessand ensuring tighter regulation on their use (Nuttet.al 2007).

Inwhat column would alcohol, tobacco and caffeine be found licit orillicit list?

Basedon the universal definition of licit drugs against that of illicitdrugs, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine would appear on my list of legaldrugs.


Nutt,D. et.al. (2007).Development of a rational scale to assess the harmof drugs of potential misuse.Lancet.369(9566): 1047–53.

White,J.E. (2008). Contemporary Moral Problems. Cengage Brain

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