A Scientist Running Nida?

Nora Volkow, the new director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, sounds very much like a scientist and very little like a drug-war propangandist in her interview with the New York Times. [*] She is even appropriately equivocal about the dangers of cannabis. Like many scientists who do brain imaging, she has what seems to me an excessively reductionist view of drug addiction, which she wants to treat as a phenomenon almost completely unconnected with more familiar instances of imperfect self-command. Still, the Bush Administration deserves major credit for not finding another Alan Leshner.

That Volkow turns out to be Trotsky’s great-granddaughter simply proves that the universe is really much stranger than it has any good excuse for being.

Update What Kevin Drum sees [*] as an instance of communists infiltrating our government could equally well be seen as something far more nefarious. Perhaps the Trotskyist element that was never far below the surface of Reagan-era neo-conservatism (the neo-cons tended to love Djilas’s The New Class, which was fundamentally Troskyist in its analysis of the degeneration of Leninism into oligarchy) has begun, in the Bush era, to infect domestic policy as well. If a literary critic with a bias against Neruda’s poems is put in charge of the National Institute for the Humanities we will know the Trots are back in force.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com