He asks the question about how to define safety, but not the question about how to control the arms race.
Henry Greely of Stanford Law School has some sensible thoughts on drugs for cognitive enhancement, starting with the prescription stimulants already on the market.
He asks the right question: What constitutes “safety” for a drug not intended to treat disease?
He doesn’t ask the next question: Assuming that the drugs have bad long-term side-effects, how do we control the pressure on people in cognitively competitive environments — especially teenagers trying to get into selective colleges, college students trying to get into the “right” graduate or professional school, and people in their twenties and early thirties bucking for tenure at universities, or competing to be Chief Resident, or scrambling to make partner at law firms, or undergoing the comparable winnowing processes at consulting firms or investment banks — to use the drugs and accept the damage because they can’t afford to be left behind by their competitors?
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.
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)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman