Friday, September 30, 2011

Mark Kleiman's Drugs and Drug Policy

Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins, and Angela Hawken have published Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2011). This is a smart and useful book for all audiences. Drug policy reformers will find many points they will agree with and many that may challenge their beliefs and prejudices.

The authors -- all highly respected scholars -- have produced an easy-to-read, authoritative guide to the key issues regarding drug. They aren't trying to make friends, they are trying to tell the truth as evidence or logic leads them. For example, they praise public health advocates who support sterile syringe programs, but note that many advocates of harm reduction don't support tobacco-related harm reduction such as smoke-free cigarettes.

The authors seriously engage some of the taboos often ducked in policy discussions such as a 25-page chapter entitled, "What are the benefits of drug use?" There are numerous smart discussions about factors and myths that surround "drug policy." For example, what is the role of science and evidence in making policy, or the factors in cultural conflict.

The concluding recommendations are smart.

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1 comment:

ChristMotForbud said...

How does it compare to the Consumer Union book “Licit and Illicit Drugs?” (,

How do the concluding recommendations compare?
Chapter 68 - Learning from past mistakes: six caveats
Chapter 69 - Policy Issues and Recommendations

I mean, it seems like the more I read about the issues surrounding drug policy reform, the more I just hear/read about how the same stuff (or remarkably similar) is being repeated, but repeatedly ignored.

I have a book referenced in Licit and Illicit Drugs, it's by Robert S. DeRopp and titled Drugs and the Mind, copyright 1957, he's pretty thorough but not as the Consumer Union/Brecher book Licit and Illicit Drugs. DeRopp's approach is not quite exclusively from a public policy approach, more from a medical approach, but he is emphatic in the need to not mistreat or drive opiate addicts to the black market, and that there are many who are lawyers, doctors, etc… i.e. otherwise respectable people who either want help (vs. prison) or are "managing quite fine thank you, mind your own business." This seems to be what I've gleaned from scanning the extensive Part 1 section in the Consumer Union Report. (That is the collection of chapters I've not poured over.)

I am still working my way through the Consumer Union Report, having read the chapters that most interested me a few years ago, but putting off the others.

Since you've been in this for a while I can only imagine that you have read it, and more thoroughly that I currently have. So I'm still left wondering if I would learn something new, something major, something subtle, or if Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know is mostly a 2011 version.