Friday, July 24, 2009

This is Your Country on Drugs by Ryan Grim

Ryan Grim has written an excellent, up to date book about drugs in America. Grim's writing is sharp and compelling, and he is a great story teller and researcher. I learned something new on almost every page.

Grim does an outstanding job weaving history, economics, survey data, and fascinating anecdotes in telling an honest story about drug use, drug culture, drug enforcement, and drug policy.

One of Grim's outstanding contributions is the clearer illumination of the long-standing pattern of substitution of drugs. This, of course, is not a new point. It was widely remarked upon as an unintended consequence in 1969 of President Nixon's Operation Intercept that nearly shut the border with Mexico for 10 days in September. Substitutes for Mexican marijuana were the consequence.

Grim points out, for example, that as the alcohol temperance movement was gaining steam in the Nineteenth Century, the nation saw a dramatic rise in the use of opiates. This was not use by Chinese immigrants. At some points in our history, use of opium was less scandalous than drinking.

Grim has done some excellent reporting, and this book is hard to put down.

If you want to know about the drug scene in much of the U.S., this book will probably tell you. (However, one aspect that seemed thin to me is the current heroin scene in the U.S. HIV/AIDS is discussed only in the context of the dramatic increase in the medical use of marijuana in the 1980s and 1990s.)

I highly recommend this book. You can get it on for $8.50 off the list price!!

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