UNDOING DRUGS by Daniel K. Benjamin


Beyond Legalization
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 Come now two professors, economics and law, to join the ranks of self-styled experts on the drug scourge in America. Benjamin (former chief of staff, US Dept. of Labor; professor of economics, Clemson Univ.) and Miller (research professor, Clemson Univ.; professor of law, Univ. of Miami) after kicking off their book with familiar rehearsals of the historic use of drugs in America, the failed Nixon and Reagan wars on drugs, Jamaican posses and crack turf wars, come to their solution: the ``Constitutional Alternative.'' This proposed constitutional amendment would remove all federal regulations on narcotics with regard to legalization or restriction and give this power to the individual states: some may opt for getting tough and others for legalization. This would not only offer ``...freedom from the tyranny of the majority'' but also give ``...Americans the opportunity to choose drug policies that conform more closely to their disparate preferences and circumstances.'' Finally, ``the Constitutional Alternative recognizes and takes advantage of the simple, inescapable fact that no government is perfect, nor immune to ignorance or error.'' Would drug use skyrocket? ``There would be a small rise....'' Suppose a state legalizes drugs and addicts flood in. Would there be a surge in crime, drive-by shootings, and gang warfare? ``The answer, unequivocally, is no.'' For the two most dangerous drugs in America--alcohol and tobacco (539,000 deaths in 1989)--the authors acknowledge that these substances are under the jurisdiction of the states and therefore the ``Constitutional Alternative'' is already in place. What they omit is that, for all narcotics--under federal regulation since 1914--combined deaths in the same period were 7,100. For doubters, Benjamin and Miller trot out the Founding Fathers a dozen times and rouse the cry ``The time is now. We can undo drugs and retake America.'' Perfectly reasoned: sophistry and paste.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1991
ISBN: 0-465-08853-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991


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