Legalize This!: The Case for Decriminalizing Drugs

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Verso, 2002 - Law - 197 pages
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Recreational drug users (other than those who take harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco) are regularly imprisoned. Nearly half a million drug offenders are incarcerated in US jails, more than the total number of prisoners in 1980 and more than the entire EU prison population. In some states more is spent on maintaining the prison system than on education. Current drug policies lead to immense personal suffering, as well as police corruption, organized crime, and contempt for the law, and make drugs more dangerous because they are illegal and thus not subject to proper controls. Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum are beginning to ask: is it worth it?

In arguing that criminalization is unjust, Douglas Husak explodes many of the myths that surround drug use. In some years, more than half of high school seniors take drugs, yet the US is not overrun with drug-crazed addicts. Horror stories of the dangers of drug use abound, but the truth is more prosaic; although recreational drugs are sometimes bad for users, there are between 80 and 90 million US citizens who have used illicit drugs without ill effects.

 

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This is a book that provides (what seems to me) solid reasons to decriminalize drugs. Backed up with statistics and clear arguments, the author demonstrates how the major replies in support of prohibition are not sound or at best - shaky.
To sum up briefly Husak's words - the right question to ask is not "why should we decriminalize?" but "why should we criminalize?". Clearly we must have a good reason to put someone in jail, and we can come up with a myriad of reasons for crimes such as theft and rape; but why should one be penalized sometimes with harsher jail-times for taking a drug? The responses to this difficult question are analyzed clearly in this book, and (I think) shown to hold no water.
For a more philosophically serious book, read Husak's book "Drugs and Rights" (and for more - see his "Overcriminalization" - out Dec 2007)
 

Contents

Understanding Drug Policy
3
Reasons for Criminalizing Drug Use
64
Disadvantages of Prohibition
125
Notes
191
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About the author (2002)

Douglas Husak is Professor of Philosophy and Law at Rutgers University. He is the author of Drugs and Rights and Philosophy of Criminal Law.

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