Drug policy news

A new star drug reporter, and what looks like an important contribution from two veterans.

Daily-press reporters who can handle complicated drug-policy stories are as rare as hens’ teeth. Most reporters assigned to drug-policy stories are generalists who don’t know enough about the issue to distinguish fact from spin.

Peter Reuter tells me that Steve Suo of the Portland Oregonian has been doing terrific work for some time, e.g. his brilliant series on how drug-industry lobbyists blocked Congressional efforts to crack down on the diversion of pseudoephedrine from the cold-remedy market into the supply chain for illicit methamphetamine.

Somehow, though, Suo managed to fly under my radar until he called for for a story on the new RAND report on drug prices and purities, which contains numbers that pretty well demolish the claim by ONDCP that Plan Colombia is somehow going to reduce cocaine abuse in the US.

Sure enough, Suo is the real deal: his initial story tells the tale clearly, and his follow-up on the spin from ONDCP is good for a laugh.

Watch that space.

While I’m mentioning things worth reading about drug policy: Reuter and David Boyum have just published a long essay arguing, among other things, that drug enforcement should focus on reducing the side-effects of prohibition rather than trying to reduce drug consumption by increasing prices and reducing availability. I haven’t read it yet, but anything by Reuter and Boyum is guaranteed to be worth your attention if you care about the issue.

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