Term Paper: Illegal Drugs as Wmds the World

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The world and most specifically the U.S. has been so worried about the spread of elusive WMDs that one wonders what would happen if they were finally discovered. We have no clue if they exist and as far as reports are concerned, no such weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Interestingly U.S. fought a whole war on the pretext only to tell the public later that no WMDs existed anywhere in Iraq. So what are WMDs? WMDs are nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that if used could kill a large majority. So far, it appears that WMDs are really serious in nature but where are they to be found. The WMDs that the government is talking about sure do not exist but there is one form of WMD that not only exists but has been around for decades. This form has not been considered as serious in nature as those elusive WMDs that are yet to be found. The WMDs we are talking are illegal drugs. These illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine have destroyed large sections of the society and continue to do so but government has not yet categorized this as a weapon of mass destruction. Understanding the connection former U.S. secretary of State William Perry (1996) said: "The insidious nature of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is not unlike the threat we face from illegal drugs. In the past decade both have spread like cancer, threatening our children and our societies and forcing governments to commit ever-increasing re-sources to fight these epidemics." (Perry, 1996)

People of all societies and nationalities take drugs for different purposes ranging from spiritual to medical to recreational. They have certain benefits provided they are taken in calculated quantities. However when these drugs are taken in immeasurable quantities, i.e. when they are not used but abused, they not only have deleterious effects for a short time but also prove to be fatal in the long run.

Drugs can be disturbed into different categories: stimulants, steroids, depressants or hallucinogens etc. All drugs known to us fall into one of these categories. For instance, Marijuana falls into group of hallucinogens, nicotine and cocaine are stimulants while barbiturates are form of sedatives. Each one of them has short- and long-term physical and psychological effects. For example Stimulants are known for increasing alertness, cellular activity, heart rate, and blood pressure. The effects begin with simple stimulation of the central nervous system. Later, this leads to other problems along with the ones mentioned above.

They can cause a loss of appetite, dilation and drying out of bronchi, insomnia in addition to increased heartbeat and pulse rate. When taken in larger quantities and for a longer period of time these types of drugs may cause irritability, convulsions and paranoid behavior. The dependence level of these drugs is high and withdrawal symptoms include serious mental and physical depression.

Stimulants such as Marijuana is commonly known as Dope ganja, Gangster, hash, herb, weed etc. And federally classified as Schedule I drug. It is derived from a hemp plant, cannabis sativa. The main chemical present in Marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

It has the most profound effects on the brain. THC breaks into 80 different substances before being eliminated by the body. It is smoked in loose cigarettes called 'joints' or cigars called 'blunts'. Its short -term effects include problem in learning, problem solving, thinking and perception. The user experiences loss of motor co-ordination and augmented heart rate. It takes a user in a state of elation and during this period he loses control over his mind and body leading to improper behavior. Marijuana contains a number of carcinogens (cancer-containing compounds) that prove fatal in the long run. Other stimulants include Amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine.

Another very popular or rather most popular and widespread category of drugs is "opiates" and its most common forms are heroin, opium, morphine besides methadone and Darvon. Opiates have been used for centuries as the most effective pain relievers. However, when not taken in calculated measure, they can become highly addictive. It has to be converted to morphine by brain receptors and different opiates require different length of time for conversion, heroin takes the least and is thus preferred the most. It immediate effects is intense but short-lived euphoria. However this tends to encourage users to take it in future, causing depressed breathing rate and blood pressure as well as disruption in sleep and menstrual cycle. It also causes hallucinations, coma and possible death (due to suppression of respiratory rate).

Sedatives are another group of drugs that slows down bodily activities. They are, therefore, given as tranquilizers and sleeping pills or just as sedatives. It helps the user in relaxing down. It effects range from loss of body heat and muscular co-ordination to disruption with digestive system to less intense physical sensations, stupor and possible death. It can affect the unborn fetus too. It causes both physical and mental dependence. Prolonged use of large quantities can lead to amnesia, confusion and mutation of personality.

Steroids are basically famous for their performance-enhancing properties and thus have been illegally used by athletes since 1950s. Medically, they are used to treat particular kinds of cancer and anemia. In the long run, these drugs can cause destructive and violent behavior. "Users also may suffer from paranoid jealously, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility. Fatalities due to suicides, homicides, liver disease, heart attacks, and cancer have been reported among illicit users." (Reference 2).

The substance in cigarettes that causes addiction to tobacco is known as nicotine. If smoked for a short time, nicotine aids its users in relaxing. It initially causes a rush of adrenaline, the substance released when you are excited. However it cause an increase in basal metabolic rate meaning that you lose weight without doing any work. This is not a safe way of losing weight, nonetheless; because concurrently it also effects the release of insulin, the substance that stores excess glucose, and makes a person hyperglycemic. There are three reasons why nicotine causes addiction. Firstly, it produces euphoria that forces its users to crave more of it. Secondly, the withdrawal symptoms are severe. Headaches, irritability, nervousness etc. Lastly, its effects on the brain causes severe mood swings and frequent changes in temperament.

Due to the addictive and fatal nature of these drugs, they are not legalized and therefore doctors are reluctant to frequently prescribe them (fearing possible addiction that causes serious damages to brain and body). No matter how dangerous these drugs are, their use is rife even among people with complete knowledge of their harmful effects. And have therefore become a major health hazard for nations worldwide and lucrative business for those producing and selling them.

The term used for the illegal mobilization of drugs is called " drug trafficking." This crime is so well organized all over the globe that it has turned into a major challenge for law-enforcement authorities and societies at large. The history of this business goes back to the days of British Empire when opium was traded to China for tea and silk.

Another reason why drug trafficking continues to pose a threat to authorities is indirect involvement of important organization as CIA in drug trade. In early 1950s the Nationalist Chinese Army, organized by CIA to combat the Communist China, became the largest and most powerful producers of poppy plant (opium) in the Golden Triangle of Burma, Thailand and Laos.

Next in the line has been Afghanistan, which is called the new Columbia of world of drug trafficking (by DEA). Torn apart by 23 years of warfare, the country's economy would have been on the verge of collapse if it didn't have vast opium poppies fields. It replaced Burma in 1990s when it produced 4600 metric tons of opium. The Mujahideen rebels involved in drug trafficking were backed by CIA to fight the Soviet forces present in the country.

The history of drug trade in Mexico, another major center of drug business, goes back to end of 19th century and beginning of twentieth century. Initially Mexico produced poppy and marijuana and their cultivation has been the main source of Mexican trade if not the only one. In 1930s, Puebla, Guerrero and Tlaxcala were the biggest centers of marijuana cultivation. This business continued to flourish as these traffickers were protected by important members of anti-narcotics police. (McWilliams, 1990)

Because of huge losses that this lucrative business brings, both in terms of health and finances, the governments all over the world have tried fighting this crime through the enforcement of laws and operations undertaken with the help of organizations such as United Nations and local anti-narcotics police. For example, in the United Sates of America, laws relating to drug control are two-dimensional in nature. Harrison et al. (1995) writes,..."the first being supply reduction, the reduction and control of the supply of drugs through legislation, law enforcement, interdiction, sentencing, and incarceration, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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