No Credit Check Payday Loans
ALL BOOKS
Seeds

Pharmacology

Substances
Overdose

JoomlaWatch Agent

Visitors hit counter, stats, email report, location on a map, SEO for Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, Magento and Prestashop

JoomlaWatch Users

JoomlaWatch Visitors



54% United States  United States
11.3% United Kingdom  United Kingdom
5.9% Australia  Australia
5.6% Canada  Canada
3.3% Philippines  Philippines
2.2% Kuwait  Kuwait
2.1% India  India
1.6% Germany  Germany
1.5% Netherlands  Netherlands
1.1% France  France

Today: 224
Yesterday: 310
This Week: 1587
Last Week: 2303
This Month: 5399
Last Month: 5638
Total: 24164


10.1. Under the Influence of Prohibitionism: Drug Policy Debate and Processes Still Serve a Discredited, Dangerously Extremist Philosophy PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 0
PoorBest 
Grey Literature - DPF: The Great Issues of Drug Policy 1990
Written by Dave Fratello   

Introduction
We're now ten, twenty, or seventy-five years into the War on Drugs — depending on how you count — and ever more widely, observers are becoming weary and skeptical of the consistent high hopes, high costs, and bitter disappointments which have characterized American prohibition efforts. Still, drug "control" policy continues to maintain its focus on suppression at home and abroad, with increasing resources poured into the drive and rising impatience borne of policymakers' frustration. The paradox of this situation is that most Americans and their representatives express little faith in the usefulness of repressive efforts against drugs — such attempts merely seem the only "right" way to approach the social problems now visible from drugs.

A great craving for a conscientious, ameliorative approach to drug policy is coalescing now, however. Signs of this perhaps surprising reluctance to take to war footing are visible in the undercurrents of public and political discussion of drugs. For instance, the unexpected conversion of prominent pundits and public servants to the decriminalization or legalization approaches represents a rejection of current enforcement-oriented policy. More subtle is the increasing popularity among politicians of the "education and treatment" line, which tacitly disdains repressive approaches and gives priority to the psychological and health factors at the root of our nation's drug problems.

These are the first hopeful signs that it is possible to go beyond concepts of good and evil in drug policy. That we must do so has become more than obvious — drug warriors' assaults on Constitutional principles and established law enforcement practices ultimately threaten every American, "crack" dealer or not. Young Americans currently or soon to be of draft age could face enlistment at any point in one or another of the bloody conflicts waiting to be started in the name of the Drug War. Future Americans will likely be faced with even more dire drug problems and more dangerous drugs if the perverting influences of the criminalization environment continue to work their dark magic.

We would all like not to feel so threatened, but the fact is that federal drug control policy — made jointly by Congress and the Reagan-Bush administrations, it is important to remember — is building momentum rapidly. Its bureaucrats and cheerleaders almost uniformly embrace expanded repressive efforts, and rather than placing limits on themselves, they claim new powers and larger pricetags are necessary as the fight heats up. The war threatens to go on indefinitely, as it seemingly has already.

A few essential questions arise, however, as we as a nation ponder continued escalation of a battle which has showed few signs of success in the past. One is how we would know if we had won the war, and what we would do in such a case. Intimately related to this issue is the question of how drug policy would understand and respond to its own failure, whether construed broadly or in only a limited sphere. A serious look at the policy processes which have given us the Drug War again reveals that in fact there are no mechanisms guaranteeing honest analysis of this realm of social policy. Thus its chances for evolution and adaptation are hampered, and it risks not only a waste and failure but repetition of past mistakes. Surely this is the way to make bad policy.

As to why drug policy lacks standard mechanisms ensuring its rational development, the reasons are many. Predominant, though, is the powerful influence of the prohibitionist policy philosophy. The goals of drug policy are those of prohibitionism: the total elimination of illicit substances from American society or, in Congress's words, creation of a "drug-free society." Measures of policy performance are along the prohibitionist yardstick of reductions in reported levels of drug use. Political competition and accountability are absent because there seems to be only one "right" side to the "drug issue." Finally, no cost seems too great if it is aimed toward the moral imperative of fighting, "a war in which, for the future of our country and the lives of our children, there can be no substitute for total victory." (Congress, 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act)

Again, surprising numbers and types of Americans do not support this absolutist policy philosophy. That fact alone will be crucial to allowing the development of alternatives and the placement of checks on the currently spiralling repressive approach. But it will also be necessary for us, as reformists, to understand the deep roots of prohibitionism in the social and political idealism which forms the roots of American culture and liberal society. Only then can we point out the dysfunction of existent policy processes without being derided as morally scandalous characters, possibly in league with the enemy.

Ultimately, modern-day prohibitionism is just another of the many reactionary approaches to social ills that have grown in acceptance as the nation's problems have seemed to worsen. It is at once more subtle and more overt than other repressive philosophies governing reactions to obscenity, sex, crime, and faltering patriotism, in that it begins from a widely accepted premise (drugs are bad) and then openly prescribes repressive solutions. Yet in time prohibitionism's tendencies become clear — it is a "band-aid" solution at best, a menace at its worst. The problem facing America is how to separate out the highly charged emotions of drug policy debate and understand where the fine lines exist, where in fact abuse of the law becomes more dangerous to society than abuse of the substances in question.

Such issues will not be addressed so long as objections to current policy cannot be articulated or seriously examined in appropriate forums. Prohibitionism's main allies are overgeneralization and the aura of urgency which plagues a nation which believes itself to be in a "drug crisis." These characteristics of the national debate remain, precluding any ambivalence in debate or proposed solutions. After all, prohibitionists continue to portray America's response to the challenge posed by drugs as a fundamental test of cultural strength and credibility.

Many reformists might agree, but point out the truth in the maxim which says resort to aggression or violence is the final proof of the untenability of one's position. The increasingly repressive character of anti-drug efforts ought to be some indication of the moral and intellectual vacuity of virulent prohibitionism. The only remaining issues, then, will be how and when this policy approach can be resisted and replaced. It will surely take honest and conscientious efforts beyond anything we have known to date, and it will prove to be a test of American culture and its political system.

In this sense, how to deal with drugs becomes something of a question of cultural assimilation. Prohibitionists continue to stand with the majority of Americans in perceiving assimilation of drugs and amelioration of the problems through nonrepressive means as "acceptance" of drugs into the culture. If that were the real issue, one could see why it would remain forever unacceptable. But in truth there are many levels of society which have found ameliorative approaches vastly more successful, their only major difference with federal policy being that they must accept-the existence of drugs and deal with the problems from there. National debate, especially the policy debate, has not yet reached this realization — it is committed to the idea that drugs are eliminable and that this mission must be pursued. In a time of fiscal crisis and unprecedented challenges to both our military and our legal system, we can afford the luxury of this folly little longer.

Prohibitionism's Dominance in Public Discussion and Policy Debate

Many critics of across-the-board drug prohibition argue that the policy has 'failed" and must be abandoned. If the New York Times is at all a reliable barometer of public opinion and the level of policy debate, then this perspective has gained a reasonable legitimacy — on June 23 of this year the paper printed, top-center on its commentary page, an unspectacular bare-bones anti-prohibition argument by Rolling Stone founder Jann S. Wenner. Other news sources have also taken up efforts to balance modern arguments for and against continuation of prohibition, with varying levels of insight achieved.

Two recurrent problems of these attempts at debate are that the issue frequently gets hung up on the morality of continued prohibition versus alternatives which seem to constitute "surrender," and the fact that even the most carefully argued critiques fall on deaf ears at the policy level. Each problem arises for similar reasons. The resolution of this dilemma does not lie in rejecting the idea of morality in public policy, for there has never been a morally-inspired policy more thoroughly in tune with the most basic of American social values than drug prohibition.

In short, the central ideas of prohibitionist policy are inspired by our founding values of ethical individualism, utilitarianism, and humanitarianism. Drug use seems a violation of the central idea that individuals should seek to be in control of themselves at all times, so that a rational and orderly society might be built and maintained. Such behavior also seems fundamentally imprudent, if not economically destructive. When use becomes abuse or addiction, it becomes the society's responsibility to care for and rehabilitate the stricken individual. Thus, in all there seems to be little room in American society or culture, as traditionally defined, for any drug use at all.

The extreme case which ostensibly proves the morality of policy aimed at preventing any use is the case of addiction. An individual is perceived as unfree, irrational, and even dangerous when addicted to one or another chemical agents — making him far from an ideal citizen of the community. Since there are no widely acknowledged benefits to the use of drugs, and given that their use may be fraught with the risk of addiction, society seems justified in utilizing its powers of coercion to both encourage and enforce abstinence. Gradually, as Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar have written, "the proper exercise of liberty in effect becomes identified with choosing rightly or rationally by a standard which has nothing to do with the individual's actual desires."

This is the point at which prohibition laws begin to cross the line into impeding individual choices which do not pose a clear and present danger to the user or society as a whole. The fact that not all drugs or instances of drug use constitute a threat to anyone greatly complicates the justifications put forth for policies reliant on such ideas. Further, these and other practical problems of implementing prohibitionist policy hint at the larger issue of how successfully even soundly conceived policy can be made to produce desired results in the real world.

This is the real issue at the heart of rising concerns about across-the-board prohibition. It is a policy aiming to attack a very broadly defined problem with only a few types of acceptable tactics. Clearly, in pursuing a more realistic solution to the social problems of drugs the nature of the threat will need to be defined more specifically and the list of available policy options will need to be expanded. Total prohibition of all currently illicit substances has long been considered impracticable, even by those involved in the policy. Presently it is essential to focus drug prohibition more precisely on truly dangerous substances — to attack the "drug problem" with a focus on "problem drugs" — and to rethink policy approaches with regard to others.

Thus the actual dichotomy in policy debate is not, as most drug-enforcement bureaucrats would have it, outright legalization of everything versus expanded, harsher enforcement efforts. At issue is the need to temper the absolutism of the current approach and seek new means of dealing with social problems traceable to drugs. The debate should be framed in terms of the overall policy approach: ever-increasing repression versus good-faith ameliorative endeavors. Currently, of course, the policy is following the former path, largely out of fear of the implications of equivocating on such a crucial social question.

All of this discussion is perhaps an extremely roundabout way of reaching the most basic issues confronting current and near-future drug policymakers. That the issues are rife with complexity and apparent contradictions, not to mention their great potential for misunderstanding, is one of the principal reasons why the straight-forward, moralistic approach of widespread repression prevails. But the fact that the myriad problems arising from drugs are equally complex should suggest that a singleminded, intrasigent policy philosophy is doomed to failure.

Most important, for the remaining purposes of this report, is the fact that the policy processes which have grown up and become entrenched in the service of prohibitionism give drug policy great chances of failure, no matter how it defines its goals. Because the policy is extremely broad in its purposes and notoriously unwilling to investigate its own progress, except by problematic standards, it is highly susceptible to legal and fiscal excess, symbolic political manipulation, and generally dysfunctional policymaking. Americans who wish to see true solutions to the individual and collective tolls inflicted by various drug-related phenomena, from the violence of the illicit trade to the tragedy of addiction, are ill-served by the enduring definition of the problems in black-and-white terms.

Crack and Credibility: Factors Explaining Prohibitionism's Appeal

If the unchecked absolutism of prohibitionist policy philosophy is the major impediment to development of more reasonable, workable alternative drug policies, then we need to understand why it has gained fresh legitimacy and continues to dominate public and political debate. One factor stands out, and that is the rise in marketing and use of the inexpensive form of freebase cocaine known as crack. This heinous drug cogently encapsulates every fear and prejudice of Americans toward drugs generally. It is potent, apparently addictive, hazardous to health, and is taken for one reason only — often desperate escapism. The popular image of the crack user is of an addict even more dangerous and ghastly — racist overtones notwithstanding — than the picture presented by the heroin addict.

In this sense crack has replaced heroin as the centerpiece of drug policy legitimacy. As such it is used repeatedly at most relevant turns of policy debate to justify all manner of desperate actions. The renewed fears of and outrage at crack raises further help to eradicate distinctions among all illicit drugs. Indeed, while marijuana use was once linked in prohibitionist rhetoric to heroin addiction — a quickly discredited notion — such use is now occasionally pointed to as a precursory habit in the lives of crack addicts. Thus, as a despicable "model drug," crack is capable of turning policy debate against any and all drugs. What crack symbolizes is a vindication of every strain of traditional antidrug sentiments. President Bush sensed this when he asked federal agents to seize the pernicious substance in Lafayette Park, to further symbolize the breadth of the problem. Yet while he dangled a bag containing what he prayed might some day be considered "worthless chemicals" on national television, he carefully dodged more complex issues underlying the war effort he was initiating. The President failed, for instance, to mention that half of the law enforcement funds of his drug war would go toward eradication of an illicit substance he did not speak about at all during his speech — marijuana. This is the character of the obfuscation of issues which is possible with a potent symbol so readily at hand.

That crack comprises only a portion of the nation's drug problems but remains prohibition's principal legitimation is a crucial point, but it should not obscure other factors which work to resist the rethinking or changing of policy. A pivotal issue is the notion of the continued "credibility" of both traditional convictions and the policy approach itself. Those familiar with American justifications for staying involved in the Viet Nam conflict will recall that the notion of retaining U.S. military "credibility," no small detail in an era where the will to use force formed the basis of the strategic balance, became the main purpose of the effort. The fact that the war was probably unwinnable, increasingly expensive and dangerous, and proved bitterly divisive at home still did not argue sufficiently against the policy-level rationale for a continued military presence.

An example of the credibility argument's role in current policy is the justification offered for expanded marijuana eradication efforts, especially those undertaken domestically. Policy planners can be heard to describe how "we can hardly expect other countries to get tough on drugs if we don't crack down at home." This is also a prime example of the effects of the undifferentiated "anti-drug" approach. It is not just the credibility of some extremist philosophy at stake, it is the viability of all aspects of the policy and, implicitly, of the consensus notion that drugs are bad. Clearly, this type of debate — fueled by potent symbols and visceral convictions — leaves little room for negotiation, compromise, or change.

A "Crisis of Authority": The Need for Repression, Militarism

Given the current climate and the nature of the debate about drugs, there is perhaps no logical policy response but to muster all of society's collective force to fight the demons to the death. Not surprisingly, this is roughly the direction in which policy continues to move. Revivals of past repressive efforts are proposed with new twists and expanded resources, and new ideas are put forth which promise a "real crackdown." Virtually all of this new policy activity follows William Bennett's theory that "the drug crisis is a crisis of authority...the drug user, the drug dealer and the drug trafficker alike believe that the laws forbidding their activities no longer have teeth, and they consequently feel free to violate those laws with impunity."

This sense has predominated as Congress has continually upped penalties for all drug offenses, and added civil penalties including asset forfeiture where criminal sanctions seemed insufficient. Unprecedented actions breaking down a two-century old concept of separation of the military from civilian policing have been taken, and many in Washington are eager to see our armed forces turn from facing down the Soviets to the "just cause" of fighting drugs abroad. Other popular repressive ideas are being considered, such as focusing demand-reduction policy on "casual users" by threatening them with habilitation" (Bennett's term) in boot-camp environments. This last idea may gain extra impetus from Latin nations' insistence that the U.S. reduce drug demand as vigilantly as they seek to pursue traffickers.

It would appear that there are limits to the types of repression the United States will adopt in this fight. Yet the presentation of the situation as a "crisis" drives many exasperated lawmakers into accepting options they might not under other circumstances. Indeed, many of them attempt to be on the cutting edge of new drug-fighting ideas, sometimes overstepping even Bennett. For the moment, prohibitionism is too politically lucrative to ignore, thus its potential role in policy has surely not seen its peak.

Counterproductive Politics: Politicization of the Policy Debate on Symbolic Terms

Much has already been said about the nature of drug policy, and its prohibitionist guiding philosophy, as deeply symbolic topics for many Americans. Polls taken of voter attitudes during and since the 1988 elections consistently identified drugs as the number one national concern, partly owing to the inflamed emotions of the "drug crisis." What proves a revealing sign of the importance Americans attach to drug problems is the fact that most of them have no direct contact with the social ills they bemoan and trace to drugs.

This situation further illuminates the symbolic nature of the issue, and demonstrates reasons for its appeal to politicians seeking "safe" positions. Drugs and drug policy have become a "lightning rod" of sorts for all manner of national concerns. Statistics are offered linking drugs to several known national problems, and in time illicit substances seem to have a causal role in such pervasive ills as urban decay, low economic productivity, the dissolution of the traditional family model, poverty, substandard educational performance, and general social disorder. Thus "doing something about drugs" appears to be a promising wide-ranging crusade to cure numerous social problems at once, despite its basic focus on attempting to curb availability and use of nonapproved intoxicants.

Symbolic policy is only fleetingly concerned with achieving results, and this characteristic matches drug policy's tendency to be only minimally pragmatic. Far more important is that the proper approach is taken. This increases the impression that policymakers are defenders of American culture and ideals, and it can have big payoffs in terms of voter support. It is no coincidence that Lee Atwater and President Bush conceived the anti-drug effort as the centerpiece of his first year in office.

Also not surprising is the bitter hostility expressed by those currently riding the prohibitionist bandwagon toward alternative points of view. Policy debate is essen4tially composed of "price-tag politics" and one-upsmanship in repressive proposals, and when this pattern is upset the bile rises quickly. The problem with this supposed debate is that it substitutes for true political competition, and thus impedes the normal processes by which policy evolves. The disdain of alternative ideas and the distrust of real debate reveal the wide symbolic use of the policy by those in charge of it.

Stigmatization of alternative viewpoints is prohibitionism's means of maintaining dominance. The tendency in the current climate to consistently turn debate back to the morality of the present approach is always evident, though one fine example of this phenomenon was demonstrated in the so-called "Rangel Committee" (House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control) hearings on legalization in September 1988. The presumed invalidity of arguments aired by prohibition opponents was encapsulated in the brief explanation in the committee's report of the purpose of the public hearings: "to give outspoken advocates of the idea a chance to publicly air and explain their positions and to hopefully once and for all end the recurring debate."

In truth, however, no real debate was undertaken. Advocates of some reform were heard out, and no doubt their citing of problems with the current war struck chords of familiarity with policymakers, but in all their conclusions were too drastic for elected officials to adopt. One interesting development at the hearings, however, was officials' ironic focusing of attention on the shortcomings of then-current debate and policy. Adopting a ploy often used rhetorically to raise fears about a post-prohibition environment, Chairman Rangel and others threw lists of practical questions at would-be reformers. Such questions as, "Who would manufacture and distribute (legal drugs)? In whose neighborhood would they be sold? Would we legalize crack? Would there be age and quantity limits on purchases?" while all reasonable concerns, pointed to the gross inadequacy of the current approach in asserting effective controls on any of them.

Counterproductive Politics: The Problems of Imperfect Information and Dysfunctional Policy Processes

One of the central imperatives for the formulation and conduct of successful public policy is the gathering of accurate information. In the realm of drug policy, precise figures describing the scope of various drug phenomena are historically rather difficult to come by. For instance, most reporting of usage levels is voluntary and the numbers must be extrapolated in attempts to understand broader trends. The size of the illicit drug trade — read: the nature of the enemy — is also perennially a subject of some guesswork.

The problem of imperfect information, however, is not often seen as a threat to drug policy's viability. In fact, it is frequently exploited by prohibitionist policymakers to create an even more dire picture of the drug problem, in order to continue the aura of urgency that lends blanket control measures to their legitimacy. Since prohibitionism's founding notion is that all drug use constitutes a threat of serious magnitude to individuals and the whole of society, anecdotes and data appearing to support this contention are selected as evidence of the scope and character of the nation's drug problems. Even carefully gathered statistics are prone to exaggeration, as public discussion and policy debate display their tendencies to err on the side of severity, lest problems be understated and not taken appropriately seriously.

One example — though there are more than one could count or overestimate — of the tendency to overstate problems traceabe to drugs and drug use is the treatment of "crack baby" estimates before and even after precise figures were derived. It is important here to recognize the emotive value of this issue as it relates to the repeated touting of estimates of the problem's breadth which have always been substantially too high. The number of babies born to crack-addicted mothers has been guessed to be in the hundreds of thousands since the miserable situation first came to be reported by hospitals and child care workers. In a letter published in Ann Landers' column on April 2, 1990, William Bennett moderated his own past estimates but still placed the figure at "100,000 babies born each year to crack-addicted mothers."

Bennett may not have been certain at the time of the letter's writing that he had exaggerated by a factor of eleven. But it appeared in print two weeks after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had concluded that the number of known "crack babies" born in 1989 was 8,974. This official figure both solidifies the seriousness of the problem and dispels the alleged vast reach of the problem, itself a potent and emotional symbol of the innocent victims of drug use. Here the rise of objective figures promises to inform policymaking while deflating one aspect of drug hysteria.

Exaggeration is such a pervasive historical, characteristic of drug policy and rhetoric as to seem almost a given when figures are offered to justify policy approaches. In the terms used by public policy analyst Randall Ripley, exaggeration contributes to the "agenda-building" and "legitimation" aspects of the drug policy process, more often than not granting them a prohibitionist edge and urgency. When exaggeration amounts to outright misinformation, however, unwise or counterproductive policy is the great risk. Thus unrealistic fears or bloated estimates can endanger drug policy, and their tendency to arise repeatedly since figures are not expected or required to be well grounded is a dangerous propensity of prohibitionist policy.

Once goals are set and policy is formulated, the remaining steps — again according to Ripley — are implementation and evaluation of impact. Already discussed was the fact that drug policy's goals continue to be those of prohibitionism, which also only sanctions certain types of efforts toward achievement of those goals. Thus the evolution, such as it is, of drug policy in a prohibitionist climate is predictable: the "right" approach will be strengthened indefinitely until behavior falls in line with the desired ideal. When questions arise along the way as to why the policy seems not to work, a number of reasons are offered which avoid the issue of approach.

Most of the admitted problems have to do with difficulties of policy implementation. These include the lack of a sufficient bureaucracy committed to fighting drugs — suggesting a need for greater resources — and problems of competition or failed coordination among various levels of the enforcement structure. Thus, proposed solutions rest in good-faith coordination of a "comprehensive" effort.

As Ripley said generally of proposed solutions to policies which seem to lack effectiveness, "the assumption is that if the bureaucratic relationships are in order programs will generally work." Problems with this assumption arise, however, when "many nonbureaucratic influences are likely to be at work in determining what any given layer of bureaucracy can achieve." Few would argue that there is any absence of extragovernmental influences affecting the numerous drug phenomena that prohibitionism aims to eliminate. Therefore, drug policy risks the pitfall Ripley points to, by which ever-increasing commitment of resources to the bureaucracy will tend to have diminishing effectiveness on the problem at hand.

Perhaps the most pernicious characteristic of drug policy as it is made under the influence of prohibitionism is that it is not only unlikely to detect such a fundamental problem, the processes are nearly incapable of bringing such a question to light. There exists no method for evaluating past drug policy successes or failures, or for redirecting policy to reflect new understandings. Its principal hopes for evolution toward success rest in the discretion of traditionally unaccountable administrators. Other than that minor role given to human judgment, prohibitionist policy is structurally myopic, reliant entirely on the validity of its approach for its chances of success.

Another dangerous tendency of current drug policy is its reluctance to undertake investigation of its unintended consequences. This state of affairs puts the policy at risk not only of failing, but of creating numerous unconscionable situations, all without detection. A policy which consistently fails to achieve its goals and in fact creates side effects contrary to its purposes is said to have a "perverse effect." Certainly this allegation appears to prohibitionists as an unlikely feature of well-intentioned anti-drug policy. According to Albert O. Hirschman, the "perverse effect" as a frequent occurence is unlikely "to the extent that policy-making is a repetitive, incremental activity: yesterday's experiences are continually incorporated into today's decisions, so that tendencies toward perversity stand a good chance of being detected and corrected."

Unfortunately, the cost-benefit consciousness which applies to most realms of policy and prompts such types of analysis is absent in drug policy. This is perhaps the most damnable failing of prohibitionist policy which aims to serve symbolic ends more often than instrumental ones. Indeed, a disturbing point is the apparent likelihood that failures and perverse effects would be attributed to a worsening of the nation's drug problems — thus eliciting a prescription for more rigid policy.

Conclusion

The Drug War is far from over, in fact it shows greater signs of continuing as is for another seventy-five years than it does of shifting directions. The crisis mentality which prevails now serves the interests of the even more vehement prohibitionist policy philosophy which still dominates every relevant level of public and policy debate. It is possible to puncture this stagnant dialogue and prevent the elevation of folly to ever- broader social policy, but it is an uphill battle. Crucially, reformers must be conscious of the characteristics of this policy realm and insist on two related developments: a total overhaul of the approach, from a repressive to an ameliorative one, and the setting of cost-benefit standards of analysis to begin determining useful versus destructive policy directions.

In these efforts the overly broad nature of prohibitionist policy will have to give way to more carefully targeted, drug-specific policies. Substances which are no longer subject to spiralling sanctions will become objects of good-faith efforts at defining appropriate standards for use. In this manner, the cost-benefit framework will serve the late Edward Brecher's keen advice that policy must seek to do less harm than good. We are not applying such common-sense standards at the federal policy level today, at the nation's peril.

David H. Fratello, 4050 Katella Ave., Suite 107, Los Alamitos, Calif 90720.

References

Bakalar, James B. and Grinspoon, Lester; Drug Control In A Free Society; New York, 1984: Cambridge University Press.
Ripley, Randall B.; Policy Analysis in Political Science; Chicago, 1985: Nelson-Hall Inc.
Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control — 100th Congress; Annual Report for the Year 1988; Wash-ington, D.C. 1989, USGPO (Report 100-1135).
Bennett, William J. "Drugs: Consequences and Confronta-tion." Text of Speech (May 3, 1989).
Hirschman, Albert O. "Reactionary Rhetoric." The Atlantic Monthly (May, 1989) p. 63-70.

 

Our valuable member Dave Fratello has been with us since Wednesday, 22 February 2012.

Show Other Articles Of This Author