Breaking the Impasse in the War on Drugs

Breaking the Impasse in the War on Drugs

Breaking the Impasse in the War on Drugs

Breaking the Impasse in the War on Drugs


"Most of Mr. Wisotsky's points are well documented, and the book serves as a good primer on Federal police agencies and the international cocaine industry." New York Times Book Review


Cocaine is here to stay. What, if anything, should we do about that? The answer begins by rejecting the question thus posed. Cocaine is not the issue. No progress can be made from that false formulation.

When I started the research that culminated in the writing of this book, I began with the conception that locates cocaine and its effects at the center of inquiry. I held the opinion that cocaine was a relatively benign drug; that its reputation as a dangerous drug resulted primarily from an outrageous U.S. Government propaganda campaign, aided by sensationalism in the broadcast and print media; and that regardless of the properties and effects of cocaine, the Government's efforts to suppress it were not only predestined to fail, but enormously destructive in their own right.

After some years of research during the period of the greatest cocaine boom in history, my judgment on the adverse consequences of drug law enforcement hardened, while my attitude about cocaine became more cautious. The rapid proliferation of casualties of freebase smoking demonstrated the remarkable psychic "pull" of what many users regard as the most euphoric drug experience of them all. The dangers of intravenous cocaine use, often combined with heroin in a "speedball" injection, also gave me pause. Nevertheless, I concluded that the Government has grossly distorted the actual risks of taking cocaine by a campaign of scare tactics. Millions of Americans consume billions of lines (or puffs) of cocaine every year, with little or no long-term damage to their physical or emotional well- being. Legitimate health concerns do revolve around a minority of users of cocaine who fall into the trap of chronic, compulsive use, especially by injection or smoking. For them, the drug experience often ends in disaster.

While this information is true in a superficial sense, it is nonetheless misleading insofar as it uncritically assumes that the drug is the active force . . .

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