skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 163198 Find in a Library
Title: Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market
Author(s): T Szasz
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 224
Sponsoring Agency: Syracuse University Press
Syracuse, NY 13210
Publication Number: ISBN 0-8156-0333-9
Sale Source: Syracuse University Press
1011 East Water Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book develops the argument that U.S. drug laws are both immoral and imprudent, because they treat adults as if they were children and seek to protect them from themselves.
Abstract: Drug laws rest on the pretense that illegal drugs, officially classified as dangerous, are in fact more dangerous than legal drugs, not officially classified as dangerous or even as drugs. Drug laws pose a greater threat to Americans than do drugs. Why do people want drugs? Basically, for the same reasons we want other goods. We want drugs to relieve our pains, cure our diseases, enhance our endurance, change our moods, put us to sleep, or simply make us feel better. We purchase other goods to make our lives more productive and more pleasant. Each year, tens of thousands of people are injured and killed in accidents associated with various goods that have been legally marketed and purchased. In most cases, we expect people who purchase potentially harmful products to familiarize themselves with their use and avoid injuring themselves or others. If they hurt themselves, we assume they did so accidentally, and we attempt to heal their injuries. If they hurt others negligently, the law provides ways to hold them accountable in both civil and criminal forums. After generations of living under medical tutelage that provides us with protection against dangerous drugs, we have failed to cultivate the self-reliance and self-discipline required of competent adults surrounded by the fruits of our pharmacological-technological age. The author argues that our medical-statist policies regarding drugs closely resemble the Soviets' economic-statist policies regarding consumer goods. The book's thesis is that what is called "the drug problem" is a complex set of interrelated phenomena that are the products of personal temptation, choice, and responsibility, combined with a set of laws and social policies generated by our reluctance to face this fact in a forthright manner. A limited government, such as that of the United States, lacks the political legitimacy to deprive competent adults of the right to use whatever substances they choose. It is futile to debate whether the War on Drugs should be escalated or de-escalated without first addressing the popular, medical, and political mind-set concerning the trade in drugs generated by nearly a century of drug prohibitions. The author suggests that we ought to consider the possibility that a free market in drugs is not only imaginable in principle but, given the necessary personal motivation of a people, is just as practical and beneficial as is a free market in other goods. Chapter notes, a 97-item bibliography, and name and subject indexes
Main Term(s): Drug regulation
Index Term(s): Drug legalization; Drug Policy; Drug use
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.