More good electrons for Drugs and Drug Policy

Rich Danker at Forbes has nice things to say about the book. No doubt due to the skill of my collaborators, it seems to have the characteristic that drug war hawks and drug war doves both find it congenial.

Rich Danker at Forbes has nice things to say about the book. No doubt due to the skill of my collaborators, it seems to have the characteristic that drug war hawks and drug war doves both find it congenial.

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:

6 thoughts on “More good electrons for Drugs and Drug Policy”

  1. Kudos on the favorable review. I haven’t read the book, but based on what I’ve read about it, such as this review, I don’t think I have much interest in reading it. It seems like more of the same old failed policies that don’t address the unintended consequences of prohibition, just a different way of spanking the offenders.

    Same old scare-mongering: “The death and violence attributed to the drug trade would be transferred to and could even be surpassed in a legalized drug market. An open season for currently illicit drugs would probably make society’s alcohol problem pale in comparison.” (reviewer’s summary, not directly quoted from the book). Delusional. Via the black market there already is an open season for illicit drugs. Those who want to use “illicit” drugs are already doing so. The “death (aside from overdoses, which by the way are far fewer than “licit” prescription drug overdoses) and violence attributed to the drug trade” are more properly attributed to the existence of the black market for them.

    It’s still all about controlling someone else’s behavior instead of one’s own: “It would enable us to continue to penalize drug abuse … this is a third way that takes a chance on getting better results without diluting our opposition to drug use.“. As Brett likes to point out, drug abuse is it’s own penalty. Why penalize the rest of us with the horrific social costs of the drug war?

  2. I also haven’t read it but would like to express my opinion based on the cover and some reviewer’s quotes. I was disappointed that the recipe for corn bread included margarine, which is not a traditional ingredient. Also, in the dessert section, remember that those of us with home ovens will always struggle with temperature control when we make the meringue!

    1. Cute. Gave me a giggle.

      The best reason I can think of to read a book review is to help in the decision whether or not to invest one’s time in reading said book. I was saying this book review was unconvincing to me, and why.

      But yeah, “I haven’t read the book, but” is pretty irresistible, isn’t it?

  3. Freeman, are you also proud of not knowing who’s the President of Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan?

    Hint: Not every reviewer is a perfectly accurate reporter of the contents of a book. HOPE isn’t about punishing drug users, it’s about controlling the non-drug crimes of criminally active people.

    1. Well, perhaps the review was less than perfectly accurate, but you did link to it so I took that as your endorsement of the general accuracy of the review.
      The review defines the HOPE acronym as “Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement”, and is described thusly: “This program … puts criminally active drug users on strict probation with regular randomized drug tests. Violators get immediate but short jail sentences and treatment is mandated for repeat offenders.” This sounds very similar to how I’ve heard you describe it on this blog from time to time, but please correct the record if any of this is inaccurate or misleading. As described, HOPE sounds like a plan to grant probation to “criminally active drug users” instead of jail time they might otherwise deserve for the crime they are convicted of, then jail or forced treatment based solely on their drug use after the crime. Maybe it’s just me, but this sounds a lot like “punishing drug users”. I guess it depends on the definition of “criminally active”, but if that means something other than drug offenses then why do we need further drug enforcement to adequately prosecute them?

      Look, I don’t want doped-up violent criminals roaming the streets any more than anyone else, but it seems to me the massive resources we spend on drug law enforcement would be better spent on violent crime enforcement. Sure, HOPE sounds like an improvement in enforcement strategy and I’m all for that when in comes to enforcing an actual crime (you know, the kind with an actual victim other than the perpetrator), but the focus seems to be on drug use. Drug-related crime would still exist without prohibition just as alcohol-related crime exists, but with it, the intersection of drug use and violent crime is predominately a side-effect of prohibition just as it once was with alcohol, and as long as we have that, we’ll forever be playing whack-a-mole going after this sort of criminal. Put one away, or better yet successfully rehabilitate him through HOPE or a similar program, and another immediately pops up in his place. Forty years under the threat of draconian, liberty-destroying-for-all-not-just-the-offenders drug laws and enforcement policies have done nothing to change that, and nothing ever will. Human nature is such that prohibition of anything popular and desirable inevitably leads to a thriving and powerful black market to meet the demand.

      I applaud the HOPE strategy. Though it does nothing to address the problems with prohibition, I truly believe it is better than the status quo. My critique of drug enforcement reform like this is that it leaves the elephant in the room and continues to pretend it isn’t there. Get rid of the elephant and I believe HOPE-like strategies would be much more effective dealing with the remaining drug-related crime, alcohol included.

      BTW: Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan? Went right over my head, I guess. Cheers!

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