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Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out Hardcover – June 1, 1998
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Drug Crazy is a scathing indictment of America's decades-long "war on drugs," an expensive and hypocritical folly which has essentially benefited only two classes of people: professional anti-drug advocates and drug lords.
Did you know that a presidential commission determined that marijuana is neither an addicitve substance nor a "stepping stone" to harder drugs ... only to have President Nixon shelve the embarrassing final report and continue the government's policy of inflated drug addiction statistics? Did you know that several medical experts agree that "cold turkey" methods of withdrawal are essentially ineffective and recommend simply prescribing drugs to addicts ... and that communities in which this has been done report lower crime rates and reduced unemployment among addicts as a result?
Whether he's writing about the American government's strong-arm tactics toward critics of its drug policy or the reduction of countries like Colombia and Mexico to anarchic killing zones by powerful cartels, Mike Gray's analysis has an immediacy and a clarity worth noting. The passage of "medical marijuana" bills in California and Arizona (where the bill passed by a nearly 2-to-1 majority) indicates that people are getting fed up with the government's Prohibition-style tactics toward drugs. Drug Crazy just might speed that process along.
From Publishers Weekly
Arguing that the federal government's $300-billion campaign to eradicate drug use over the last 15 years has been a total failure, Gray calls for legalization of drugs and government regulation of their sale, with doctors writing prescriptions to addicts. Although he scants specifics as to how this would work and the potential consequences, his outspoken brief for decriminalization is bolstered by a revealing history of drug use in America. A Hollywood screenwriter, TV producer and director, Gray brings a filmic sense of drama and action to a gritty, scorching look at the failure of America's war on drugs. As he jump-cuts from Al Capone's syndicate in Prohibition-era Chicago to the abortive Reagan/Bush campaign to control Latin American drug traffic, Gray maintains that hardcore addicts, a small minority of drug users, have served as a scapegoat for politicians and lawmakers, with the nation's "moral focus" selectively shifting from opium and morphine in the first two decades of this century, to alcohol, then to marijuana in the early 1930s, to crack cocaine today. "It would seem that if Americans are to have any say at all in what their teenagers are exposed to," he concludes, "they will have to take the drug market out of the hands of the Tijuana Cartel and Gangster Disciples, and put it back in the hands of doctors and pharmacists where it was before 1914." Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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1. There was no excessive use of words and the prose wasn't fatty in the least.
2. This book reads like a great mystery novel, especially the vignettes about Al Capone and Pablo Escobar. The author has read a lot of texts on this subject, but reveals everything by covering only what is necessary (the way a good bikini does).
3. This book actually foreshadowed "Freakonomics" with its descriptions of the tight and business-like organization of the drug trade.
4. The author explains *why* so many of the people sitting in jail for drug running are black and Mexican. There is some racial component, but the logistics of getting the drugs distributed explain more than anything.
5. Gray names names when he details how, just by chance, the drug Prohibition laws started out so small and ballooned into something so large. There is more than a bit of discussion/ underlining of the laws of unintended consequences.
6. The book was written before Mexico started its collapse in its war against drug cartels, but the analogy that can be drawn today is just as relevant. I wonder if the same thing could happen in the United States, since the analogy is so prescient.
7. The sheer hysteria that went into making the drug laws (80 years ago) is beautifully detailed here and brought to life. There is also a very clear lesson here about making policy before it has been studied carefully (like the latest health care/ financial regulations) and how long a mess can drag on before it get resolved (if it ever does). And about how few Congressmen actually read bills that they vote for.
On the bad side:
1. I could have done with a few pictures of the bad guys, but the book didn't lose that much by not including them.
2. I might have liked a bit more discussion of the cost-benefit analysis of legalization. He gave us some examples of the prices in the production chain (how motion between the Columbian farmer and the Columbian drug runner adds one order of magnitude onto the price and how the motion from Columbia to the United States adds another whole order of magnitude), and it wouldn't have been a leap from that to get to how much it would cost in the States if sold legally vs. the number of deaths.
Because of the sheer volume of information in this text, it could be read either 15 pages at a time or re-read in its entirety.
It was worth *every single dollar* of the second hand purchase price.
I think that is a pretty good thumbnail of what Mike Grey had to say, and he is completely right. Everyone in the country should read this book. Our real addiction is to hatred.
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