Beyond the War on Drugs: Overcoming a Failed Public Policy

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Prometheus Books, 1990 - Political Science - 279 pages
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This provocative and controversial book rejects the popular pablum of more laws, more money, more enforcement personnel, and more jails as the road to victory in the "war on drugs." Author Steven Wisotsky masterfully documents the failure of the drug war and the erroneous premise central to its destructive and doomed strategy: the idea that drug taking controls human behavior; that drugs "cause" physical dependency. Americans must move beyond the war on drugs by repudiating their obsessive preoccupation with controlling or prohibiting drugs. Instead, we must replace this mindset with a new view that acknowledges individual freedom and the power of directing our choices toward responsible human behavior.

According to Wisotsky, the idea of "waging war" on drugs is central to the problem rather than a fundamental part of any solution. He takes the Reagan-Bush-Bennett campaign to task for its failed efforts to cut the supply of drugs, reduce public demand, and enforce laws regarding the sale and distribution of controlled substances. Wisotsky contends that the war on drugs will remain inadequate so long as society continues to be seduced by the battle cries of its own stepped-up combat in which the "enemy" (drugs) must be eradicated at all cost. The rationale for doing battle has become so embedded in the public mind that we no longer recognize the need for a critical review of social policy, strategy, or the methods needed to achieve our desired goals. Have we simply created a new type of Prohibition, which is destined to fail? And if this is the case, then what does it say about our society? Have we lost the ability to reflect critically on our social motives and purposes, as well as our justification for the actions we take, simply because we've declared "war" on the "enemy" and we aren't going to stop the good fight until we've "won"?

Beyond the War on Drugs offers hard-hitting arguments to support the growing public opinion that this war, as it is currently conceived, cannot be won and ought not to be fought. Wisotsky argues persuasively for a reassessment of this struggle. We must go beyond the war on drugs to develop a public policy that acknowledges human intelligence, free choice, and individual responsibility.

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Contents

The Futile Quest for Control
49
The U S Law Enforcement System
61
No Light at the End of
91
Copyright

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