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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 158003 Find in a Library
Title: Thomas Szasz and Our Right to Drugs: Cracking the Constitution
Journal: Journal of Humanistic Psychology  Volume:35  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1995)  Pages:21-39
Author(s): R E Haskell
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 19
Type: Collected Work
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The work of Thomas Szasz and his position on drug policy and drug addiction is presented through his latest work, "Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market," the main thesis of which is that individuals have a constitutional right to drugs.
Abstract: This article does not critique Szasz' position but rather explicates Szasz and his ideas expressed in "Our Right to Drugs." Szasz links his advocacy of the right to drugs with other rights such as the right to control one's body, the right to property, and the right to die. He suggests that many Americans are ready to surrender their constitutional rights to curb what they view as a growing drug crisis. According to a 1989 poll, 67 percent would allow random searches of automobiles; 52 percent would allow homes to be searched without a warrant; and 71 percent would make it against the law to show the use of drugs in movies. Szasz also suggests that the enforcement of antidrug laws is racist. He cites statistics to show that African-Americans compose 12 percent of those who regularly use illegal drugs; whereas, of those arrested on drug charges in 1988, 38 percent were black. In all of his previous works, Szasz emphasizes individual responsibility. Accordingly, in "Our Right to Drugs," he argues that even if addiction and the addictive qualities of drugs were not fictions, individuals remain responsible for informing themselves about the products they ingest; hence, if they do become addicted, they are responsible for their addiction because they either knew, or should have known that addiction was possible. Szasz' logic is consistently impeccable, as he argues that the person who sells food to an overweight person is not held responsible for that person's obesity, yet those who sell people drugs and alcohol are held responsible for the drug addict's addiction and behavior. Similarly, he suggests that State lottery systems are not held responsible for so-called gambling addicts who spend most of their money on tickets. He argues for the complete legalization of drugs, which means a free market flow and exchange without government interference.
Main Term(s): Drug Policy
Index Term(s): Drug legalization; Right of privacy
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