chapter
5 Pages

Introduction

The United States is almost unique in the world today in terms of the magnitude of the country’s drug abuse problems. This is partly reflected in our burgeoning prison populations and overcrowded courts. We incarcerate more people per capita than any other industrialized nation and the prime reason behind this is our so-called “War on Drugs” (see Chapter 5). Many people agree that we are either losing or have already lost that war. Very few people suggest we are winning or have any realistic hope of winning it. The reasons for this are varied, but mostly it seems to be because we consistently confuse a moral stance (“let’s get tough on drugs”) with measures of effectiveness. Any action that supports a moral position, such as harsh prison sentences for using or selling an illicit drug, is seen as effective while any other possibility is rejected. The result is a social policy that leads us to pour money down a rat hole with no end in sight. This book attempts to examine that rat hole in the light of reason.