Doctor or drug dealer? International legal provisions for the legitimate handling of drugs of abuse
In this paper, we compare how five jurisdictions (the USA; UK; Canada; New Zealand; and Australia) balance the disparate objectives of preventing the misuse of drugs to the detriment of society and allowing their legal for societally-beneficial purposes. The statutory law underpinning each country’s method of categorising drugs depict distinctive outlooks from the different jurisdictions, as each works towards these same goals. In examining how each country’s legislation deals with controlled substances, initial consideration will be given to whether drugs are categorised once only, or twice: once for dealing with their criminal misuse; and again for ensuring their safe medicinal use. In effectively dealing with criminal activities associated with drugs of abuse, Australia’s system of imposing penalties based on the quantity of a drug possessed, rather than on its grouping with other drugs of a broadly similar type offers the most flexibility. In terms of managing the legitimate use of such drugs, however, it is perhaps the least flexible of the four jurisdictions operating parallel systems of categorisation. The greatest level of flexibility is offered by Canada and the UK, which have functionally very similar protocols in this respect.