THE STONED AGE: A History of Drugs in America by John Rublowsky

THE STONED AGE: A History of Drugs in America

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The problem, according to Rublowsky, is not drugs but the criminalization of drugs. This is hardly a new argument but the author carries it to the ultimate extreme by proposing that, since addiction is rarely cured, all rehabilitation programs should be summarily abolished thereby saving taxpayers some $600,000,000 a year. Conceived as a survey of narcotics, their dissemination and use, the book treats alcohol and tobacco in exactly the same way as heroin, amphetamines and barbiturates. Physiologically tobacco and alcohol, both socially sanctioned, are harmful and toxic -- lung cancer kills 80,000 a year while heroin deaths number 2,500. As a ""history"" of drug usage the book is somewhat didactic with the author insisting at every turn that ""the desire to alter one's mood or state of consciousness appears to be inborn in the human species"" -- hence nothing to get excited about. He points out, with justification, that throughout the 19th century when alcohol was every American's ""drug of choice,"" morphine, opium, peyote, etc. could all be obtained cheaply and legally yet the country was apparently none the worse for it. Rublowsky blames the heroin hysteria which depicts the addict as a depraved ""fiend"" with rotting teeth, yellow skin. and a lust for violence on government officials who only exacerbate the problem. His solution? Legalize it, as in England. Although Rublowsky makes many valid points, his book is highly partisan and lopsided -- at times it virtually amounts to saying that if we ignore the problem it will go away.

Pub Date: July 25th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam