Placement of Drugs in the Controlled Substances Act

"As this paper demonstrates, the pharmacological effect of a drug does not necessarily determine how a drug will be governed. Rather, it is the way a drug is framed that determines how the drug will be popularly understood and ultimately regulated. According to the Regulatory Regime / Norms model, the meaning of any drug (how it is perceived or understood) is initially ambiguous and indeterminate. As a result, the project of getting a drug into a particular regulatory regime is about allocating specific meaning and significance to the drug in order to prompt individuals to think and feel about the drug in a way that allows for regime placement. This is accomplished by framing a drug to match the norms of a particular regime. Thus, the critical work at the level of regulation is in the framing."
"Once a group has persuasively framed a drug in a way that resonates with the norms of its regime of choice, then the drug may be placed in that regime, regardless of whether the designation decision is supported by scientific or medical evidence. As we have seen with cocaine, marijuana and anabolic steroids, however, if a drug in the criminal regulatory regime is closely associated with socially maligned groups or racial minorities, then it is substantially more difficult for the drug to eventually migrate out of the regime."


Paul-Emile, Kimani, "Making Sense of Drug Regulation: A Theory of Law for Drug Control Policy," Fordham University School of Law, Cornell Journal of Law and Policy (December 2009), p. 52.