Steroids: Legal consequences
Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 3:42 pm
Although AASs were first developed in the mid to late 1930s for medical use, it was not until 1991 that AASs were added by federal law to the list of Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CS A). In the mid-1980s media reports of the increasing use of AASs in sports and a “silent epidemic ” in high schools came to the attention of the U.S. government and Congress. Between 1988 and 1990, Congressional hearings were held, and consequently AASs were added to Schedule III, the same legal class as amphetamines, metham-phetamines, opium, and morphine. Before that, federal regulation for AASs came under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, trafficking of anabolic steroids was already illegal before they became classified as controlled substances. The CSA defines AASs as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth. Schedule III controlled substances have recognized value as prescribed medications but carry the potential for abuse that may lead to either low or moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence. In 1994, another act called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed. This opened the door for dietary supplements with steroidal properties to be easily purchased over the counter.
Federal and state guidelines and penalties
Simple possession of AASs is a federal offense punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000. If the person has a previous conviction for certain offenses, the penalty is imprisonment of at least 15 days up to two years and a minimum fine of $2,500. Selling or possessing AASs with intent to sell is a federal felony. The first time someone is caught making or distributing steroids the penalty is up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. If caught a second time, prison time can be increased to 10 years. During 1989 and 1990, many states reclassified AASs to become controlled substances under state law. A 1991 survey of state legislation found that approximately 22 states had tightened their AAS laws. Because state laws differ, however, a wide range of penalties exist.
People who receive AASs by mail order can also be arrested. Federal law enforcement authorities monitor both international and domestic mail and can open suspicious packages. The Customs Mail Division inspects packages from outside the United States, and the Postal Inspector inspects domestic parcels. The huge volume of mail makes it difficult, but these agencies monitor and try to intercept parcels from addresses known to be connected with steroids.
In the United Kingdom, AASs and other performance-enhancing drugs were added to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) in 1996.
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