Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Synopsis

In Our Right to Drugs, Thomas Szasz shows that our present drug war started at the beginning of this century, when the U.S. government first assumed the task of protecting people from patent medicines. By the end of World War I, however, the free market in drugs was but a dim memory, if that. Instead of dwelling on the familiar impracticality or unfairness of our drug laws, Szasz demonstrates the deleterious effects of prescription laws, which place people under lifelong medical tutelage. The result is that most Americans today prefer a coercive and corrupt command drug economy to a free market in drugs. Szasz stresses the consequences of the fateful transformation of the central aim of U.S. drug prohibitions from protecting us from being fooled by "misbranded" drugs to protecting us from harming ourselves by self-medication-defined as "drug abuse". And he reminds us that the choice between self-control and state coercion applies to all areas of our lives, drugs being but one of the theaters in which this perennial play may be staged. A free society, Szasz emphasizes, cannot endure if its citizens reject the values of self-discipline and personal responsibility and if the state treats adults as if they were naughty children. In a no-holds-barred examination of the implementation of the War on Drugs, Szasz shows that under the guise of protecting the vulnerable members of our society--especially children, minorities, and the sick--our government has persecuted and injured them. Leading politicians persuade parents to denounce their children, and encourage children to betray their parents and friends--behavior that subverts family loyalties and destroys basic human decency. And instead ofprotecting blacks and Hispanics from dangerous drugs, this holy war has allowed us to persecute them, not as racists but as therapists--working selflessly to bring about a drug-free America. Last, but not least, to millions

Excerpt

When the history of human error comes to be written, it will be difficult to find examples of equal power; and the future will be amazed that such competent men, such eminent specialists, could in their own chosen field remain so blind, so stupid.

--Ferdinand von Hebra (1816-1880)

In this book, I use many ordinary terms and phrases--such as addict, drug abuse, and drug abuse treatment--whose conventional meanings I reject. To avoid defacing the text, I have refrained from putting such prejudging expressions between quotations marks each and every time they appear. Instead, I should like to state unequivocally that everything I say in this book is premised on my contention that in today's American society there are two kinds of diseases and two kinds of treatments. The first kind of disease, exemplified by AIDS, is discovered by doctors; the second kind, exemplified by drug abuse, is mandated by legislators and decreed by judges. Similarly, the first kind of treatment, exemplified by the surgical removal of a gall bladder, is advised by doctors and authorized by competent patients; the second kind, exemplified by participation in a court-ordered drug treatment program, is imposed by judges on defendants accused or convicted of violating drug laws. I repudiate the scientific validity of placing rule-breaking behavior in the same cat-

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