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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 73392 Find in a Library
Title: Drug-Law Enforcement Efforts (From Facts About 'Drug Abuse,' P 63-94, 1980)
Author(s): J R Pekkanen
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 32
Sponsoring Agency: Free Press
New York, NY 10020
Sale Source: Free Press
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Scholarly and Reference Division
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Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The law enforcement approach to drug control is examined critically from the perspectives of history, drug use's relationship to crime, the effects of New York's 'tough' drug control law, and enforcement's effects on illicit drugs' use.
Abstract: Efforts to control certain drugs have come in cycles, focusing on specific drugs during specific time periods. Drug laws have neither stopped nor reduced the use of illicit drugs, however. Much of the debate over drug control laws has overlooked the difficulties involved in enforcing them. Public officials have consistently oversold drug laws and have created public expectations that such laws will eliminate illlicit drug sale and use. Using a variety of strategies, law enforcement activities have focused on controlling drug use and on controlling drug supplies. Enforcement efforts have been fraught with such problems as lack of coordination among different elements of the enforcement system. Despite popular impressions to the contrary, little hard statistical evidence exists to show a cause and effect relationship between the use of any drug and criminal behavior. A study of New York's 'tough' 1973 drug control law indicated that the law changed very little in New York and that there are serious limits to what any law can control. In contrast, Oregon's decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana did not produce any changes in marijuana use patterns in the state. It is concluded that tough laws have not solved the drug abuse crisis. Furthermore, current policies involve heavy direct costs and social costs, while benefits are less specific and less provable. Nevertheless, the U.S. is unlikely to change its current heavy reliance on the criminal justice system to deal with illicit drugs. Footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Critiques; Drug law enforcement; Drug regulation; United States of America
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