Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy

By Theodore R. Vallance | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Getting There from Here

Are there significant prospects for making U.S. drug policy less restrictive? One of my colleagues believes that legalization is an idea whose time has come, that it will be backed in the next five years by liberals and conservatives alike, but for different reasons. Many conservatives, he argues, will become incensed by the high, and still rising, costs of law enforcement and incarceration. Hearing continued public concern about raising taxes, the conservatives will join a reform movement temporarily (and possibly unwittingly) with liberals who are pursuing the agenda of both civil liberties and cost containment in backing decriminalization and eventually legalization positions, which are complete with provisions for taxation targeted for increased treatment and prevention.

But be wary, he warns: once legalization is a fact, ordinary politics, and fiscal imperatives led by a power elite recognized by government administrators, will see to it that the taxes from drug sales are diverted from treatment and prevention into the general fund and thence to wherever the political process sends them. He cites the failure of the community mental health legislation of 1963 and onward, which promised "de-institutionalization" of hospitalized mental patients to the care of comprehensive centers in their home communities. Then the financial demands of the Vietnam War prevented the fulfillment of President Kennedy's original dream. Fewer than one-third of the planned centers were created, and now a third of the homeless are discharged mental hospital patients. My colleague fears this sort of thing could happen again. What constituency concerned for the one-time drug users is vocal enough to ensure that the drug-use problem

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Prohibition's Second Failure: The Quest for a Rational and Humane Drug Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 Defining Today's Drug Problem in the United States 1
  • Conclusion 25
  • Chapter 2 Documenting the Costs of the Drug Problem 27
  • Summary 46
  • Chapter 3 How Effective and How Good a Bargain is Current Policy? 47
  • Summary 62
  • Chapter 4 Policy Options Within the Criminalization Context 63
  • Summary 77
  • Chapter 5 What Choices Do We Have? 81
  • Summary and Conclusion 99
  • Chapter 6 Toward a New Policy 101
  • Chapter 7 Getting There from Here 123
  • Appendix A Federal Drug Laws 135
  • Appendix B Reform-Oriented Organizations 141
  • Appendix C Studies by Special Committees, Councils, and Commissions 144
  • Notes 153
  • Sources 159
  • Index 169
  • About the Author 175
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