A slim but helpful volume examining the inadequacy of current US drug policies and how these policies might be changed. In the view of the author, an entrepreneur, onetime Reagan campaign chairman, and son of an alcoholic, prohibition as the foundation of our approach to controlling drug use has failed. "The need," he maintains, "is for education, not incarceration, treatment, not torment." Drugs should be legal and state-controlled, with the profits from sales going to education programs on the harm drugs may do, treatment for addicts desiring it, and research into the causes of addiction. There is nothing particularly new here; amid a growing literature calling for an end to drug prohibition, many of Eldredge's themes are often better, more deeply covered elsewhere. Still, two things are notable. The first, as he emphatically declares, is the fact that Eldredge is a "white, conservative Republican who has passed the Medicare milestone." No liberal or aging hippie is he, indicating perhaps how widespread is the discontent with current US drug policies. The second item of note is the author's excellent analysis of what these current policies have done or may do to civil liberties. In the name of "zero tolerance," Congress proposed a law to create an arctic gulag for convicted drug offenders (fortunately, never passed). Warrantless searches and the unconstitutional—to the author'seizure of property take the place of due process. The random and capricious use of drug testing, though of course not always unreasonable, further threatens our individual liberties. The author concludes with the simple points that people have always wanted mind-altering substances and always will, and that this demand will always be met, either legally or illegally. Given these truths, the prohibition approach to drug control is not worth the cost to our civil liberties. A good summary of and introduction to a libertarian perspective on drugs, freedom, and the role of the state.
Read full book review >