No matter how many taboos, commandments, and laws surround the distribution and consumption of mind-altering substances, people are still taking drugs and law enforcement is still enforcing drug laws. In his new book “Drugs and Drug Policy” Mark A. R. Kleiman, Professor of Public at Policy at UCLA, covers a variety of topics including the legal, technical, and medical definitions of a drug, the actual effects of drugs in the brain, the mechanics of drug-related legislation and enforcement, and the relationship between drug laws and crime. Kleiman and the coauthors of the book argue that laws meant to curb drugs have proliferated but these laws are often shaped by myths, false assumptions, and unreasonable fear more often than by facts about drugs and their use. What, exactly, makes drug use a problem? How does the nature of addiction affect the way we think about the choices and responsibilities of drug users? How do we weigh the cost effectiveness drug laws and how can we ultimately tell which drug policies “work” and which don’t?
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