Monday, April 28, 2014


I feel strongly about this and am happy to feature Dave Finch's book of the same title and my review of it.

KILL THE DRUG TRADE: Ending the War on Drugs in a System of Toleration, Counseling and Control.
The book presents a dramatically different approach to dealing with drug use and addiction.  Our current prohibition system has fostered powerful criminal cartels and gangs, easy street access of drugs by adolescents, and the motivation to commit property crimes, prostitution and drug dealing by addicts to finance their habits.   Yet our forty year war on drugs has failed to stem the tide of irresponsible drug use, overdose death and addiction.   The book shows how this failed approach could be replaced by state regulated dispensary systems that allow adult users to purchase drugs of certified purity and potency at below street prices, provided only that they cooperate with counselors on a regular and frequent basis to keep them informed of drug science and affordable treatment options.

My review:

I am in complete agreement with the author and welcome this thoughtful and clear exposition of the reasons why.

The "war on drugs" is like the Crusades, full of good intentions and a complete failure. It costs, just at the Federal level, $20 billion a year not counting the average of $30 thousand per prisoner--and two million were put into prison in 2010. This is more than is required to support a family of four at just above the poverty level.

The author marshals arguments and facts to show that addicts are not particularly moved by the threat of punishment. On the other hand, very few drug (ab)users are addicts, and if they are, many are able to function "normally"--hold jobs, maintain family relationships, etc.

So what is wrong? Imprisonment for one is harmful, hurtful and costly both to society and the individual (ab)user. Many abusers are young enough that they do not yet have the mental capacity to make good decisions; they have not reached the age of discretion. For those of age, the drug trade has been made more dangerous and expensive by the laws that have sprung up since the 1980s.

The author proposes instead a "free market solution" which he calls the System. My only complaint is that the solution is too complicated and that his analysis is too fair-minded. To paraphrase George Eliot, in this political effort, the intellectually honest is at a disadvantage. Suitable sound bites are wanted. 

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