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NCJ Number: 158170 Find in a Library
Title: Drug Facts Don't Matter: A Brief Comment on Drug Prohibition: An Unnatural Disaster
Journal: Connecticut Law Review  Volume:27  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1995)  Pages:639- 650
Author(s): S Wisotsky
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 12
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although Steven Duke's article arguing against drug prohibition provides an excellent restatement and update of familiar arguments made over many years, the experience of decades contradicts his unstated premise that a rational approach has the potential to make a difference in addressing the drug problem.
Abstract: Confidence in the power of reason to advance the cause of drug policy reform is misplaced. Relying on the analytical mode of discourse for drug reform is a major conceptual and strategic error. Conceptually, considering the costs and benefits of the war on drugs is not central to the basic questions of individual autonomy, privacy, and responsibility. Strategically, exclusive reliance on utilitarian debate lends itself to shouting matches based on half-truths, unprovable claims, and bogus statistics. Scientific and medical knowledge about drugs are simply overwhelmed by the power of the image. Therefore, the possibility of drug law reform in 1995 is an illusion. Duke has made the wrong argument at the wrong time. Arguments based on utility do not respond to the fear and other emotions that dominate the drug policy debate. The drug debate has never been about facts or evidence. The issue is debated metaphysically and metaphorically. Politicians, the public, and judges alike have relied mainly on inflamed rhetoric and extreme metaphors. As a result, heroin is not allowed for pain relief for terminal cancer patients, and needle exchange to prevent AIDS is prohibited in most jurisdictions. A new paradigm is needed before true dialogue can even begin. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Drug legalization
Index Term(s): Decriminalization; Drug Policy; Drug regulation; Public Opinion of Drug Abuse
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