Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1472471
 


 



Toward a Public Health Approach to Drug Policy


Alex Kreit


Thomas Jefferson School of Law

September 12, 2009

Advance: The Journal of the American Constitution Society Issue Groups, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 43, 2009
TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1472471

Abstract:     
On March 11, 2009, President Barack Obama announced that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske will be the next director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (also known as the "Drug Czar"). Chief Kerlikowske's nomination comes as we approach the 40th anniversary of the so-called "war on drugs," which followed the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

This essay argues that after nearly 40 years, "it is becoming increasingly clear that our current drug control strategy has not worked." It reaches this conclusion after discussing a variety of studies and surveys that detail the amount of money that has been spent by the United States as part of this "war," and the results with regard to drug use in general, use of drugs by young people, and the ease of obtaining drugs, particularly in comparison to other countries that have used different approaches to addressing these issues. It also discusses the significant impact that U.S. drug policy has had on the size and composition of our prison population.

The essay calls on the President and the new Drug Czar to change the focus of our nation's drug policy from a punitive approach to one that addresses the problem through the lens of public health. The essay discusses recent surveys and election results and sees an opportunity for politicians to seek fundamental change in our approach to combating drug use. The views of American voters are changing, and they are now more open to reform than they were in the 1980s and 1990s.

The essay acknowledges that "[t]here is no magic bullet that can solve the problem of substance abuse." Nevertheless, it contends that "[t]here are ... a number of readily identifiable reforms that can help begin to set us on the right track and build a foundation for more significant improvements in the future." In particular, it suggests shifting funding from programs that have unsuccessfully focused on limiting the supply of drugs to programs that have proven successful at reducing demand. It also proposes removing provisions in federal law that are hampering the government's ability to pursue effective programs. The essay concludes by advocating the creation of a commission to conduct a comprehensive reevaluation of U.S. drug policy in light of what we have learned from other countries and from four decades of our own experience with the current approach.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: drug policy, drug laws, drug offenses, drug abuse, drug control, criminal law, incarceration, narcotics

JEL Classification: K14, K32, K42

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: September 12, 2009 ; Last revised: December 10, 2009

Suggested Citation

Kreit, Alex, Toward a Public Health Approach to Drug Policy (September 12, 2009). Advance: The Journal of the American Constitution Society Issue Groups, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 43, 2009; TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1472471. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1472471

Contact Information

Alex Kreit (Contact Author)
Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )
1155 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4265 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 633
Downloads: 104
Download Rank: 157,006

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.250 seconds