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A liberal though hardly radical view of the drug problem which questions the validity of current ""monolithic"" laws and decries emotional public opinion as contributory in exacerbating the problem, Basing their conclusions largely on interviews of over 500 drug users and about 420 nonusers, Dr. Zinberg (a psychiatrist at the Harvard and Tufts Medical Schools) and Mr. Robertson (a Massachusetts attorney and member of the state's Committee on Law Enforcement) attempt to show how ""mythic"" attitudes (drugs are all alike and are equally dangerous, cause dependency and lead to crime, are used solely by the mentally ill) are not only irrational and excessively moralistic but also counterproductive. Similarly they paint drug prevention laws now in force as deleterious to the society in general, noting the propensity for illegal search and seizure, perfidious entrapment procedures, and general erosion of personal liberty as well as the resultant police corruption and police-citizen hostility. ""At the core of a credible creditable drug program,"" the authors point out, ""must be the principles of honesty and justice""; likewise such a program must distinguish between cases of drug illness and those involving criminal sanctions. Regarding the latter, Zinberg and Robertson recommend a ""national licensing system"" for all drugs -- going a step further than the President's National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, they propose legalizing and controlling marijuana just as alcohol is now handled; the harder hallucinogens and narcotics would await the outcome of this experiment. There are also useful chapters on the origin of the ""cannabis explosion of the 1960s"" (drugs are McLuhan ""cool"" whereas alcohol is ""hot"") and the British experience which includes a detailed examination of the Wootten Report. This will find a receptive readership among those who are seeking a realistic rather than a crusading position on the drug question.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1972
Publisher: Simon & Schuster