Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary History

Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary History

Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary History

Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary History

Synopsis

Debates over the use and abuse of drugs, the laws controlling drugs in this country, and the question of whether or not certain drugs should be legally available have inflamed Americans since the 19th-century, and continue to flourish as America attempts to rage its "war on drugs." Students can trace the history and development of these arguments, as well as the reactions to them, through this unique collection of over 250 primary documents. Court cases, speeches, laws, opinion pieces, and other documents bring to life the controversies surrounding the issues. Explanatory introductions to documents aid users in understanding the various arguments put forth, while illuminating the significance of each document.

Excerpt

This book reviews the origins and development of America's official policies toward illegal drugs, beginning in the mid-19th century, using original documents from enacted laws, other government documents, court decisions, scholarly writings, and articles in the popular print media. For the past 100 years, drug abuse and addiction have remained among the most difficult and intractable social issues. Although the level of public attention has waxed and waned, drugs and drug policy have never really been far from the forefront of public concerns. The emphasis of this book is on the control of illegal drugs, rather than alcohol or prescription drugs. It is understood that in anti-drug policies the line between legal and illegal drugs has often been blurred, not always reflecting their relative health or social consequences.

The evolution of American drug policy is viewed in this book primarily through the lens of federal and state laws, funding priorities, and policies. In addition, cities and counties often have had local health or sanitary ordinances that have had important effects on the sale and use of drugs -- some of these are highlighted in this book. However, the official response to drugs has largely been shaped by the federal and state laws against various aspects of drug trafficking, sale, and use, and by budgetary priorities that have largely flowed from these laws. Drug policies have also been influenced by government-supported studies that have tried to illuminate the dangers of drug use, the patterns and consequences of use, the factors shaping the development and maintenance of drug abuse and addiction, and the methods for most effectively reducing the impact of drugs on individuals and on society.

There have been several important eras in drug policy beginning in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the bulk of problem drug use . . .

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