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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 158419 Find in a Library
Title: Criminology of Drugs and Drug Use (From Current Perspectives on Criminal Behavior, P 165-191, 1974, Abraham C Blumberg, ed.)
Author(s): E Goode
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: Random House
New York, NY 10019
Sale Source: Random House
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines the rationale for drug laws as well as the social and political dynamics that have produced diverse strategies for addressing drugs that produce harmful effects on their users.
Abstract: If a large cross-section of the public were to be asked the reason for drug laws, most would say they are designed to protect the public from the harmful effects of drugs, both bodily and psychically. Joel Fort has developed a scheme for measuring the "hardness" of a drug; according to him, the main dimensions of hardness are brain and other organic damage; insanity; addiction; the generation of violence; accidents, particularly vehicular; and death. According to these criteria, the most dangerous drugs are alcohol, the barbiturates, the amphetamines, nicotine (in cigarettes), and cocaine. Any individual who is a heavy, chronic user of any of these drugs runs a high risk of eventually damaging his/her body or mind. Of the five extremely damaging drugs, alcohol and nicotine are readily available to anyone above a certain age; amphetamines and barbiturates are available by prescription; and only cocaine is completely criminalized. Public hysteria over a quarter of a million addicts contrasts oddly with relative indifference to some 10 million alcoholics, who are far more destructive to themselves and to others. The decision to permit some addicts to continue using their drug, but to deny the same privilege to others -- indeed, severely penalizing one addiction but not another -- is based on factors having to do, not with public safety, but with the relative respectability of the addictions. American society has decided that if the addict is young, and especially if he is black and from a working-class background, and if he expresses himself in hedonistic terms, he must be harassed and imprisoned; but if he is middle-aged, middle-class, manages a medical or therapeutic vocabulary, or supports a powerful "legitimate" industry, he may take his drug of choice without fear of prosecution. 51 notes
Main Term(s): Drug law offenses
Index Term(s): Criminalization; Drug effects; Jurisprudence
Note: DCC
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