Query

How much have we spent, in public and private money, on convincing people that there’s an undifferentiated category of bad things called “drugs”?

One of the great difficulties in making sensible drug policy is the “drug” isn’t a very sensible category: the differences among the (abusable) drugs are as great as the similarities, and alcohol, considered a drug by pharmacologists, is not usually so reckoned in public discourse, making it easy for people to say silly, nastly things about “drug users” over their beer.

A reader asks a good question, to which I don’t know the answer:

How much money has been spent (picking some convenient epoch) – government money, donated media money, private foundation money, etc. – on building negative associations for the word ‘drug’?

If you know the answer to that question, or would be willing to do the work to find the answer, please let me know.

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