Why are drug dealers allowed?

Breakdown of Drugs

Drugs (psychoactive substances) can be subdivided according to the most varied of criteria:

According to the law

Dealing with psychoactive substances is regulated in some form (mostly in laws) in all cultures. The psychoactive substances are usually not prohibited per se, but their use is restricted depending on the substance and the occasion. In this respect, one cannot actually speak of "legal" and "illegal" psychoactive substances, since substances that are colloquially referred to as "illegal" can also be used "legally" - for example in medicine and research.

But since colloquial the distinction between

  • "legal" psychoactive substances (e.g. alcohol, nicotine / tobacco) and
  • "illegal" psychoactive substances (e.g. cocaine, hashish)

exists and is widespread, this understanding is followed here in the text. "Illegal" psychoactive substances are therefore the psychoactive substances (addictive substances) that are subject to the Addiction Act (SMG).

You can find further information on this in the chapter "General - Explanation of terms".

After "soft" or "hard"

Colloquially, the terms "soft" and "hard" - mostly in connection with "illegal" - drugs are used. But this subdivision is confusing, since individual drugs are assigned a certain degree of danger. The danger of a substance does not only lie in the substance alone, but also depends on the form of consumption.

  • Soft drugs
    are less likely to be physically (physically) dependent, but can still lead to emotional (psychological) dependence. These include, for example, cannabis and LSD.
  • Hard drugs
    make you psychologically, but also - and sometimes even very quickly - physically dependent. These include the "legal" drugs alcohol and nicotine and the "illegal" substances heroin, cocaine and crack.


The psychological dependence that can arise with both "soft" and "hard" drugs is often very difficult to overcome.

After their effect

Psychoactive substances can have a wide variety of effects. For example, they can be calming, anxiety-relieving, mood-improving, sleep-inducing, stimulating, pain-relieving or even causing hallucinations. Often several effects occur at the same time.

The effect can vary with low or high doses or with occasional or regular consumption. Each user can also react differently to the individual substance.

According to different substance classes

Psychoactive substances can be assigned to different substance classes. This distinction is based on chemical properties. For example, alkaloids are differentiated from terpenoids.

After their manufacture and / or extraction

  • Herbal drugs and mushroom drugs
  • Processed (semi-synthetic) herbal drugs
  • Chemically produced (synthetic) and processed (semi-synthetic) drugs

Legal bases

Narcotics Act (SMG)

Last updated: April 2, 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection