Based on a one-month field work, this paper gives a broad
overview of the social science research on drugs carried out in the
United States. It attempts to present a review of the problems
raised by drugs in the United States by examining current issues and
their historical sources. While acknowledging that the United States
is both the largest producer of drug research in the world and the
world’s only "drug-control superpower", this paper suggests,
however, that the simultaneous leadership in social science and
world agenda-setting is not the result of a symbiotic relationship
between American research and policy-making. The paper is divided
into two main sections, the first on domestic issues related to
drug-abuse and trafficking, and the second on the main international
problems currently considered by American social science research on
Table of ContentsIntroduction *
Research, Policy and Conventional Wisdom *
The American Leadership *
The United States and the MOST-Drugs Network *Domestic
When it all started *
The Prohibition/Legalisation Debate *
The Drugs and Crime Nexus *
The Role of the Federal Government *
Prison Problem *
Rationale for Punitive Policies *
«Set and Setting»: An Essential Concept in the American Debate *Foreign
Early Narco-Diplomacy *
Present Research: Summary Review *
MOST and the United States *Conclusion
DRUG CONTROL POLICY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES *
1. Methodological and Economic Issues *
The Drug Policy debate *
3.General Criminal Justice Issues *
Sentencing and Human Rights issues *
Race, Ethnicity and Gender issues *
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS *
1. General *
The Americas *
Andean Countries *
SECURITY AND MILITARY ISSUES *
1. Strategic Issues *
Military Issues *
MONEY LAUNDERING *
1. General *
Media issues *
LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES *
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ISSUES *
ECONOMICS OF DRUG TRAFFICKING AND USE *Notes
Research, Policy and
Conventional Wisdom (2)
Readers may find it paradoxical to see a quote from Galbraith’s famous
chapter «The Concept of Conventional Wisdom» at the beginning of a paper
on drug trafficking and policy research in the United States.
Indeed, conventional wisdom, or «the structure of ideas that is based on
acceptability» (3), has little
to do with research, which is supposed to produce scientifically valid
facts that are more than just «acceptable». In turn, these are widely
recognised as «knowledge» or «truth», and most people will assume, or at
least hope, that scientific knowledge inspires public policy. But if
Galbraith, a sharp critical observer of U.S. economic policy, has written
several books showing that this assumption/hope is overly optimistic, it
is probable that he would have written even more extensively if he had
studied drug policy.
According to many studies and to American researchers interviewed
during the field study, it would seem that public policy on drugs has been
largely immune from the influence of research. Instead, conventional
wisdom appears to have been a major shaping force (4). Judging from
what a large number of American social scientists say about it, the
paradoxical impact of conventional wisdom seems to be a structural feature
of U.S. drug control policy. To a large extent, this paper reflects the
efforts – so far largely fruitless – of American social scientists to
counter-arrest the influence of conventional wisdom on policy.
Because of the impact on policy of conventional wisdom and ideology,
and sometimes of political convenience and racial or ethnic prejudice,
leading American researchers have long viewed drug policies and what
drives them as an important, even crucial, part of their country’s «drug
problem». Thus, books and articles about drug policy are far more numerous
in the United States than are studies of the actual workings of the
illegal drug trade. This is reflected in the bibliography provided with
this paper, in which «Drug Control Policy and Criminal Justice Issues» is
the largest section, while much of the literature listed in the other
sections also discusses policy explicitly or implicitly, and/or hopes to
have an impact on it.
Regardless of the often ideologically-charged debate taking place in
the United States itself, the field study has made it clear that, for a
range of factors and in a variety of ways, U.S. drug policy and politics
are a very strong – perhaps the strongest – determinant of what kind of
research is done in America. An important reason for this is that U.S.
drug policy – or at least some aspects thereof – has been widely perceived
by numerous researchers to be seriously flawed for a long time.
But, of course, the main reason for the centrality of policy in
research on drug trafficking anywhere in the world is that policy
is based on prohibition and the more or less aggressive enforcement
thereof (which varies across time and space) that make drugs illegal, and
transform the drug trade into «trafficking» or «smuggling». The formal
illegality of the drug trade established by policy creates an environment
characterised by secrecy and danger, and it is the most important factor
determining the forms in which drugs are produced, transported, sold and
consumed. It is also an extremely significant factor in drug price
formation and support (5). Danger and
secrecy also present significant methodological difficulties for would-be
students of drug trafficking, and this may explain why most research has
been focused on policy.
For more than 100 years, «narcotics», as Americans often refer to
banned substances whether or not they induce sleep or stupor, have been a
policy concern and have attracted the interest of scholars. As a result,
the United States today is probably the largest producer of social science
research on illegal drugs in the world. This leadership can be explained
by «physical» factors: the United States is one of the richest and largest
countries in the world, it has many universities, and many independent and
government research centres and foundations. Moreover, because drugs are a
major domestic and foreign policy concern, and a subject of ideological
and political debates, funding has been comparatively more forthcoming
than in other countries, although many of the social scientists
encountered during the field study said that money was not all that easy
Other factors, which explain both the abundance of research and its
overwhelming focus on policy, derive from the characteristics of American
democracy. Indeed, although national security and raison d’État
have ensured that American drug control is not totally devoid of «dark
areas», policy is more amenable to research because it is public and
generates a large quantity of official literature on which studies can be
based. Public scrutiny and the public’s right of access to official
documents is taken much more seriously in the United States than perhaps
in any other country in the world. Public accountability is a central
feature of American democracy and citizens - meaning the taxpayers who
bankroll the government - have a right to know what is done with their
money. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides a safeguard against
excessive government secrecy. Thus, the government produces a great deal
of literature in order to explain and justify what it does, and care is
taken to make this easily accessible to anyone. Much of it, for example,
is available on the Internet.
Money is also another crucial element explaining why so much research
has focused on policy. Indeed, on average the federal government has spent
well above $10 billion a year on drug control for at least the last ten
years. There are presently 52 federal agencies with a stake in drug
control, and each must justify its budget. The sharing of the national
drug control «cake» – that is, the annual allocation of funds by Congress
– generates a bureaucratic and public debate where arguments are used to
support requests for funds. The arguments thus put forth by the large
American drug control bureaucracy in order to obtain funding, and
therefore reproduce itself, this bureaucratic mechanics itself, and its
impact on both the nature of policy and its implementation have given rise
to much research.
This is in keeping with a tradition that dates back to the very origins
of the United States. The need to prevent the establishment of oppressive
(European) forms of government was the main concern that inspired the
fathers of the Constitution of the United States, which seeks to guarantee
individual Liberty by establishing checks and balances and the separation
of government powers. Furthermore, the writings of John Stuart Mill have
had a strong influence on American thinking. Mill was extremely wary of
bureaucracy, which he thought tended to transform its activities – service
to the people – into an end unto itself (self-reproduction) (6). As a result,
suspicion of government activity, and of bureaucracy in general, is
widespread in the American research community and in society at large, as
is the perceived need to keep them under control. It can be argued that
research into drug policy, often through the guise of searching for
rationality, provides perhaps the best current illustration of such
The United States and
the MOST-Drugs Network
The drug «research/policy nexus» – that is, the links between research,
policy and politics in the United States – is also an important issue for
the MOST-Drugs Program of UNESCO (hereinafter referred to as «MOST»).
Indeed, one of the specific objectives of MOST is to «make comparative
analysis […] between the countries [studied within the MOST framework] and
those geographical areas that already have experience in this issue,
principally the United States and Andean countries» (7).
Additionally, the «essential idea» behind the establishment by MOST of an
international network of researchers is that «increased use of social
science knowledge leads to improved social policy formulation» (8).
Two conclusions that can be drawn from the above provide the rationale
for this paper. First, the research produced by MOST is destined to be
compared with research done in the United States, because the latter is
viewed as «experienced» in the field of drug trafficking research. This
paper provides a brief overview of what makes up the U.S. experience, its
origins and subsequent development. It hopes thereby to contribute to the
comparative analysis of MOST’s output based on new, updated, written
material. Indeed, at present (to this writer’s knowledge), no specific
literature exists on which such a comparison could be based. Second, the
central objective of MOST is to improve social policy through the
provision of original research material. This implies that what social
policy there is has been unsatisfactory until now and that research is
needed to improve it. Therefore, it would seem important to examine the
multi-faceted and rather controversial relationship between social science
research and policy-making about drugs in the United States, all the more
so because the U.S. is of special concern for MOST. Equally important, the
United States is currently the world’s only (and most powerful) «anti-drug
superpower», and what it does or does not do, both at home and abroad, has
significant repercussions on the global drug trafficking and drug
policy-making scenes. It is no exaggeration to say that as far as the
modern drug phenomenon is concerned, the United States is where it all
started in the late 19th century and early 20th
century. Indeed, the present legislation of the majority of countries is
modelled on, or in agreement with, international legislation, which is
itself inspired to a large extent on the American drug control model.
The huge concern generated by drugs in American society since the
1980s, together with the scale, punitiveness and impact of drug control
policies in the same period, have led many American scholars to look back
to the origins of drug control in order to understand the historical roots
of current issues. This «re-examination» of history in the light of
present events provides the backbone of this paper. Indeed, following
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, it is thought that history is, or at
least should be, central to a study of a phenomenon such as drugs.
What are thought to be the central issues of American domestic drug
problems are reviewed at some length in chapter 1. Because the research
literature on domestic problems far outnumbers that on foreign issues,
this paper has placed more emphasis on it. Finally, foreign policy
problems reflect to a very large extent the structure of the internal
debate. Hence American research on foreign issues is briefly summarised in
the first section of Chapter 2, while the second section is dedicated to a
brief review of two important forthcoming American books that contain
contributions by a member of MOST.
This paper is an effort to provide the MOST network with an overview of
the social science research on drugs carried out in the United States as
it was perceived by a French observer during a one-month field study (9). Obviously,
one month is far too short a time to fully grasp all that is done in such
a vast, diverse and active country. Even in a year, it would be impossible
to identify, obtain, read and comment all the books and articles that
American researchers have written about drugs. Therefore, choices had to
be made, the spotlight was thrown on some areas while others were left in
the dark, and generally it has not been possible to go into very much
detail. Although this is bound to disappoint some readers, it is hoped
that most readers will find the overview useful.
Historical research on the origins of American drug control has shown
that many of the current preoccupations of social science with drug policy
have their roots in the 19th and early 20th
centuries when the industrial revolution hit the United States, deeply
transforming its economy and society. A shift in population distribution
patterns, the simultaneous growth of large urban middle and working
classes fuelled by a new wave of immigration, the emergence of new working
conditions and the progress of chemistry and pharmacology gave rise to new
problems, new concerns, new scientific concepts designed to address them,
new conventional wisdom, and new policies. However, it must be stressed
that the bulk of research attention up until the 1960s and 1970s was
focused on drug use and its consequences, not on drug trafficking. This
remains largely true today, for even if research on trafficking issues
took off in the 1970s, the vast majority of the social science literature
still treats issues relating to drug use and drug policy and its
This chapter presents a broad overview of the central drug policy and
research issues in the United States. It examines some of the historical
roots of American drug control policy and some concepts that are viewed as
central in the current policy and research debates on drugs. The first
section looks at the origins and present state of the
prohibition/legalisation debate. The second section assesses the «Drugs
and Crime» nexus, possibly the largest single source of research, and
controversy, in the present U.S. debate about drugs. Indeed, both drug
prohibition and the links that American policy makers and general public
have long perceived as existing between drugs and crime, provide the basis
of present drug control policies in the United States and in much of the
rest of the world.
When it all
According to sociologist Harry Levine, the concept of «addiction»
itself, and its definition by medical and moral authorities as a disease
or disease-like condition, was initially developed for «habitual
drunkenness» in the late 18th century (and did not exist before
that date), and then expanded to cover what are now called «illegal
drugs», largely due to the problematic use of opiates (mostly morphine)
among veterans of the American Civil War (1861-1865) and middle to upper
class (white) women (10). The
socio-historical research of Levine and others suggests that addiction is
in fact a moral and social construct, whose creation owes much to the
Temperance movement of the 19th century (11). Medical
and moral concern with «addiction» among white Americans led to
legislative efforts aimed at controlling the domestic trade and use of
drugs starting in the late 19th century. Medical concern with
the widespread availability of psychoactive consumer goods (wines and
sodas laced with cocaine; heroin-based cough syrups, etc.), together with
the outrage – and efficient lobbying – of crusading moral and religious
leaders at their widespread use and abuse, led to the adoption of national
The first federal law was the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, which
required that psychoactive ingredients be listed on the labels of goods
traded in interstate commerce; the second and better-known major statute
was the Harrison Act of 1914, a federal law which taxed the trade in
opiates and established that these drugs should be supplied to users only
if prescribed by medical practitioners. The Treasury Department was in
charge of enforcing the narcotic tax law. By 1920, it had set up a special
office to do so: the Narcotics Division of the Prohibition Unit. This is
the birth of the American drug enforcement federal bureaucracy, the
subsequent expansion of which has been subject to fascinating historical
research (12). In July
1930, the Narcotics Division became the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN),
which until 1962 was headed by a commissioner, the well-known Harry J.
Anslinger, who thus became one of the longest-serving senior government
officials in American history. Anslinger later played a key role in making
law enforcement the preferred means of treating the drug problem both at
home and abroad (see below).
Back in the 19th century, a conventional wisdom formed
around the effects that drugs have on minority groups. Nativist and racist
fears of drug use among Chinese (opium) and Mexican (marijuana) immigrants
and African-Americans (cocaine) (13) initially
led western and southern counties and cities to adopt punitive laws
selectively aimed at minorities, while federal legislators soon passed
laws limiting the importation of smoking opium into the United States
(1883), banning Chinese immigrants from importing the drug (1887) and
restricting its domestic manufacture to American citizens (1890).
Restrictions on the trade in opium led to an underground market fuelled by
smugglers. With the subsequent bans on cocaine and heroin in the 1920s,
and marijuana in the late 1930s, drug smuggling increased. But, until the
1960s, drug trafficking did not attract scientific attention and it does
not seem that it was viewed as a major social and political problem. A
much more powerful and enduring form of organised crime emerged out the
(alcohol) Prohibition era of the 1920s and early 1930s (see below).
«Habitués», as white addicts were called, were viewed as the
unfortunate victims of «greedy corporations and corrupt politicians»
and of their own gullibility, but real and imagined drug use by
minority groups was associated with crime and sexual promiscuity, and was
generally perceived as a factor that made minority members forget their
("inferior") place in society (14). So while a
medical approach was adopted to care for the former, police and courts
dealt with drug use by the latter. This differentiated treatment of users
according to their racial and ethnic background was a source of concern in
the 19th century. Bertram et al. report the following statement
by an appellate court in Oregon that was assessing the constitutionality
of a state ban on opium smoking by Chinese immigrants: «Smoking opium is
not our vice, and therefore, it may be that this legislation proceeds more
from a desire to vex and annoy the ‘Heathen Chinese’ in this respect than
to protect the people from the habit.» (15)
Several of the issues identified above, as transformed by subsequent
developments during the 20th century, have been the focus of
social science research in the present-day United States. Some scholarly
attention has been focused on prohibition as the defining principle of
drug control policy, while the relationship between drugs, crime and
minorities has given rise to a wide range of research.
Addiction as a consequence of drug use gave rise to the prohibitionist
policies that were gradually established in the first thirty years of the
20th century for opiates, cocaine and cannabis products. To be
more exact, it would seem that laws and policies aimed at the suppression
of drugs resulted from both the concept of addiction and the
conventional wisdom that drug use leads inevitably to addiction which in
turn leads to crime, and therefore is both morally reprehensible and
dangerous for society. This piece of conventional wisdom was successfully
propagated among political circles and society at large by moral and
religious leaders. American social historians say that these «symbolic
crusaders» and «moral entrepreneurs» achieved victory in the battle for
the meaning ascribed to drugs. Since then, policy-making circles and the
vast majority of the U.S. (and world) population have viewed drugs mostly
as a dangerous individual and social threat. The same logic led to the
adoption of the 18th Amendment to the American Constitution
that established the prohibition of alcohol in 1909. Let us recall that
the prohibition of alcohol fostered the development of large criminal
organisations that set up industrial-scale smuggling infrastructure in and
around the United States, which was then used by drug traffickers when
Prohibition was repealed in late 1933 (16). But the
point here is that prohibition as a basis of drug control policies has
been subject to debate in the United States and has given rise to an
abundant scholarly literature.
Today, two broad streams can be identified in this respect. First,
there are those who reject prohibition itself and advocate legalisation
and/or «harm reduction» policies along the lines of those in force in the
Netherlands. The majority of these authors stress the failure of current
policy to reduce drug abuse and insist on the negative consequences of
prohibition, arguing that it creates a «harm-maximising» environment for
drug use while leading to the development of a violent underground
economy. They conclude that current drug policies have more drawbacks than
benefits and should be repealed (17). Other
«legalisationists» make a more ideological, libertarian, case by arguing
that in a free society, people should be free to choose whether they want
to take drugs or not. It is not possible to list all the numerous
literature in this category (18), but
probably the better-known authors and those who have developed the most
influential arguments are Thomas Szasz (libertarian) and Ethan Nadelmann
(negative consequences) (19). The latter
is the director of The Lindesmith Center, a research and dissemination
centre on «drug policy reform» based in New York and San Francisco with a
representation in the Netherlands (20).
Based on my field work, it would appear that independent researchers
who support prohibition explicitly are much less numerous than their
«legalisationist» counterparts, but I may not have found them simply
because I did not look in the right places (21). However,
it could also be because prohibition has been the rule for nearly 100
years, and currently enjoys the support of the majority of legislators and
citizens. Consequently, anti-prohibitionists must work harder to shift
opinion than do those who defend the status quo. In this respect,
it is interesting to note that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
has felt the need to produce a document, «Speaking Out Against Drugs
Legalization» (DEA previously had made public a similar document titled
«How to Hold Your Own in a Drug Legalization Debate»), explicitly designed
to provide arguments to those supporting prohibition (22). DEA also
has developed a pamphlet, «Say it Straight: The Medical Myths of
Marijuana», specifically aimed at countering the influence of the «medical
marijuana movement», whose media campaigning and political lobbying has
reportedly succeeded in changing the legislation in California and Arizona
to allow marijuana use for AIDS and other patients in 1996 (23). The
Lindesmith Center has played a major role in the campaigns by providing
arguments and money. The title of this DEA document closely resembles that
of a book, «Marijuana Myths/Marijuana Facts», that was published by the
Lindesmith Center in 1997 (24). Both
publications list «facts» and «scientific evidence» about the effects of
marijuana, but obviously for opposite purposes (25). In
addition, the latest «National Drug Control Strategy» issued by the
federal government in 1998, contains specific provisions in order to
«counter attempts to legalise marijuana» (26).
It is important to note that this debate partially follows the
traditional rift separating the conservative and liberal forces of
American society. Broadly speaking, and in spite of significant exceptions
on both sides, while conservatives are staunch prohibition supporters,
liberals would tend to be in favour of vastly reforming the current drug
control system. At any rate, «legalisationists» often accuse
«prohibitionists» of being «conservative», while «prohibitionists» say
«legalisationists» are «liberals».
The present struggle opposing the DEA to the Lindesmith Center also has
roots in history, and it could even be viewed as the second round of the
«fight» that opposed Harry Anslinger to Alfred Lindesmith, a sociologist
of the University of Indiana trained in the interactionist methodology of
the University of Chicago, after whom the Lindesmith Center is named. Then
as now, the «ring» was American public opinion and policy-making circles,
and the fight was about deciding whether drug addicts should be treated as
sick people or as criminals (27). Anslinger
eventually won the day, possibly even beyond his own expectations, as is
evidenced by present-day U.S. drug policies (see below).
The second stream corresponds to the researchers who have taken the
prohibition/legalisation debate itself as an object of study (28). Among
those, a significant number of studies has been produced by the economic
modelists of the Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC) of the Rand
Corporation who have sought to assess the cost-effectiveness of current
policies and proposed alternatives (29). On this
and a wide range of other issues, the DPRC has been one of the most noted,
trusted and prestigious sources of research. By and large, the conclusion
of DPRC scholars is that policy, whether based on prohibition or
legalisation, has a very weak impact on drug use and that solutions to the
«drug problem» of the United States, should be looked for elsewhere, for
instance in «broader features» of American society such as a comparatively
higher «propensity for risk taking», weaker «informal social controls»,
«inadequate provision of health care for the poor, unequal income
distribution and a high level of criminal violence generally», according
to a 1997 article by Peter Reuter (30). But while
Reuter stresses the futility of drug policies for treating the drug
problem, he insists that the punitive «harshness» of current U.S. drug
policies has had extremely serious consequences on some groups of American
society, charging that «one consequence of politicians’ treating drug
control as a moral crusade has been an absolute uninterest, bordering on
gross negligence, in assessing the consequences, good or bad, of the
emphasis on punishment» (31). This
latter statement suggests that, unlike politicians, American social
scientists have focused much recent attention on the rationale for, and
the consequences of punitive drug policies. This type of research is
reviewed in the following section.
The Drugs and Crime
The Role of the Federal Government
At the origins of drug control, specific punitive legislation was
developed for minority drug users because it was said that drug use led
minority members to commit crimes. In fact, sociologists argue that this
conventional wisdom was the vehicle of deep-rooted fears of immigrants and
black Americans prevailing in «mainstream» American society at the time.
Historians say that Chinese and Mexican immigrants, together with the
former slaves of the South were perceived as dangers to the economic
security of the white working classes because they represented a cheap
competitive workforce. Early legislation treated these minorities
differently from white drug users. While the latter were viewed as victims
of a «deathly habit», the former were perceived as criminals and (mostly
local) punitive legislation was passed against them. For instance, in
1875, the authorities of San Francisco, California, banned opium smoking,
«a practice closely identified with Chinese Americans» (32).
Later, from the 1930s onward, with the advent of FBN Commissioner Harry
Anslinger as America’s first (and longest serving) «Drug Czar» and the
development of the anti-drug bureaucracy, doctors’ power to prescribe
drugs became increasingly restricted, and the drugs and crime nexus was
gradually expanded to cover all drug use which came to be viewed as
«un-American». According to historians, this was achieved by a coalition
of Treasury Department bureaucrats, a new generation of «anti-vice»
activists and newspapers who, playing on racist, ethnic and ideological
fears (of communists), lobbied Congress into adopting a ban on marijuana
in 1937. It is the debate that preceded the ban on marijuana that
entrenched the notion that drugs lead to crime. Historians say that, in
effect, Anslinger created and successfully promoted the idea – which has
since graduated to the level of conventional wisdom – that drug use leads
to crime in order to carve a larger turf, and therefore obtain more
autonomy and prerogatives for his newly created Federal Bureau of
This is a crucial turning point in the history of drug control in the
United States, and even in the world given the «americanisation» of
international drug legislation and the Commissioner’s influence in
international drug control instances (34). Indeed,
from then and up to the early 1960s, law enforcement became practically
the only means through which the government attempted to control drug use
and trafficking. This trend was somewhat reversed with the departure from
office of Anslinger and the rise of a «health» bureaucracy in the 1960s,
especially under the administration of John F. Kennedy, which temporarily
imposed the idea that addicts should be treated first and foremost as
medical patients (35). But this
was rapidly mitigated by the major anti-crime legislation that was passed
under the Nixon administration in 1969, notably as a result of the youth
movement that opposed the war in Vietnam and generally rejected the
dominant socio-economic model of the «consumer society». This
«counter-culture» of young rebels or would-be rebels was associated with
marijuana, and called for its decriminalisation, thereby generating fear
in mainstream society which has resulted in a tough reaction by the
authorities. President Nixon, who waged America’s first «war on drugs»,
led the reaction. Nixon and the media put the drugs and crime issue at the
centre of the political stage, identifying drugs as a major cause of crime
and declaring America’s «drug problem» a «national threat». One result of
the Nixon offensive was to reform and expand the antidrug bureaucracy,
notably by establishing DEA in replacement of the Bureau of Narcotics and
Dangerous Drugs (BNDD). Then, the Reagan and Bush administrations of the
1980s and early 1990s declared the new and much more famous «war on
drugs», which by and large has continued during the Clinton administration
since 1992. The pendulum of state and federal policy swung back again
toward law enforcement, with a vengeance.
The Prison Problem
The tough federal antidrug legislation passed by Congress under the
Bush administration in the 1980s and the Clinton administration in 1995,
and similar state laws, have resulted in an astounding growth in the
country’s prison population. According to the National Drug Control
Strategy published in 1998 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy
(ONDCP), a.k.a. the «Drug Czar’s Office», there were 1,725,842 inmates in
American federal and state prisons and local jails in June 1997 (36). Between
1985 and 1995 three-quarters of the growth in the federal prison
population is accounted for by drug offenders, while «the number of
inmates in state prisons for drug-law violations increased by 487 percent
over the same period» (37). Although
it stresses that «while crime in general continues to decline, arrests for
federal drug-law violations are at record highs», the government lists the
staggering incarceration figures under the heading «criminal consequences»
of «America’s drug problem» and states that «many crimes (…) are committed
under the influence of drugs or may be motivated by a need to get money
for drugs» (see the research by Goldstein et al. reviewed below) (38). In the
period since 1980 the United States has built more prisons and
incarcerated more people than at any other time in its history, largely as
a result of the «war on drugs». About 60% of federal prisoners are drug
offenders. In 1991, the United States was found by researcher Marc Mauer
to be the country with the largest incarceration rate in the world,
surpassing Russia and then-apartheid South Africa (since, Russia has
become the first «incarcerator», the U.S. coming in second) (39). In spite
of a massive investment in correctional facilities by state and federal
authorities – resulting in the creation of a «prison-industrial complex»
according to some journalists and scholars (40) – the
growth of the U.S. prison population has clogged up the criminal justice
system. As a result, the conditions prevailing in U.S. jails and prisons
are inadequate in many instances and have resulted in human rights abuses
that have alarmed organisations such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch, which have launched campaigns against what they say is
widespread police violence and abuse of power (41).
A distinct human rights problem is arising out of recently-adopted
sentencing laws, especially the mandatory minimum sentencing legislation
now in force at the federal level and in all 50 states. Such laws require
prison terms (as opposed to other forms of sanctions) for certain
offences, including most notably drug-law offences, and most stipulate a
minimum number of years the offender must serve. In many states, and most
notably in New York, which pioneered the use of these laws against drug
offenders as early as 1973 (and whose «zero tolerance» policy is currently
seen by many in Europe as a model to follow (42)), the
required minimum for non-violent drug offences is equivalent to, and in
some cases higher than, the sentences usually awarded for violent crimes
such as murder, rape and arson. One federal judge commented «it is
difficult to believe that the possession of an ounce of cocaine or a $20
‘street sale’ is a more dangerous or serious offense than the rape of a
ten-year-old, the burning down of a building occupied by people, or the
killing of another human being while intending to cause him serious
New York courts must give any adult convicted of possessing 4 ounces of
cocaine or selling 2 ounces a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum
of life in prison (44). These laws
deny judges their usual discretionary powers when imposing a sentence,
forcing them to hand down the minimum required by law regardless of any
extenuating circumstances. Although these laws were intended at first to
address the disparity between sentences handed down by judges and the time
actually served by those sentenced, and ensure that high-level drug
traffickers be removed from the scene, they have resulted in the massive
jailing of low-level, non-violent, drug offenders, such as street dealers
and mere drug users, for very long prison terms. They have been found a
costly and ineffective form of drug control, mostly because other minor
street dealers immediately replace those who have been incarcerated. Thus,
a Rand Corporation study has concluded that: «mandatory minimum sentences
are not justifiable on the basis of cost-effectiveness at reducing cocaine
consumption, cocaine expenditures, or drug-related crime» (45). A
conservative scholar such as John Dilulio, self-defined as «one of the few
academics with a kind word for imprisonment», recently wrote an article in
the (conservative) National Review concluding that «with mandatory
minimums, there is no real suppression of the drug trade, only episodic
substance-abuse treatment of incarcerated drug-only offenders, and hence
only the most tenuous crime-control rationale for imposing prison terms –
mandatory or otherwise – on any of them» (46). A Human
Rights Watch study of the impact of mandatory minimums on low-level drug
offenders in New York state has found that they violate «the inherent
dignity of persons, the right to be free of cruel and degrading
punishment, and the right to liberty». The 1997 report adds: «such
sentences contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Similarly, the so-called «three strikes and you’re out» laws enacted in
many states have been denounced as morally questionable and shown by
research to be costly and of disputable effectiveness. Such legislation
mandates lengthy sentences for repeat felons, prescribing that felons
found guilty of a third serious crime be locked up for 25 years to life.
The California law, which went into effect in March 1994, is probably the
most sweeping of these. Although the first two «strikes» accrue for
serious crimes, the crime that triggers the life sentence can be any
felony. In many cases, this felony has been a low-level drug offence.
Furthermore, the law doubles sentences for a second strike, requires that
these extended sentences be served in prison (rather than in jail or on
probation), and limits «good time» earned during prison to 20 percent of
the sentence given (rather than 50 percent, as under the previous law). A
1994 Rand study on California has found the legislation costly compared to
Another problem linked to the boom of the prison population that the
1998 ONDCP drug control strategy fails to mention but that was revealed by
research, is what Troy Duster calls «the darkening of U.S. prisons» (49). This
metaphor captures the fact that Hispanic- and even more so,
African-Americans have been incarcerated at a much higher rate than their
White counterparts. There were an estimated 1,471 Black inmates per
100,000 Black residents in 1993 compared to 207 White inmates per 100,000
White residents in 1993, an incarceration ratio of Blacks to Whites of
more than 7 to 1 (50). In 1994,
African-Americans made up approximately 12% of the general U.S.
population, but constituted 44% of the sentenced inmates in state and
federal prisons; Hispanics (10% of the general population) constituted 18%
of inmates; while white Americans, who comprised 74% of the total
population only represented 39% of state and federal inmates (51). All told,
Black people of Hispanic and other origins combined made up 50% of the
U.S. prison population. The disproportionate impact of recent «drug
control» policies on Blacks is summed up in the following fact reported by
The Sentencing Project, a Washington-based non-governmental organisation:
on any given day in 1994, close to 1 in 3 African-American men aged 20 to
29 were under the supervision of the criminal justice system, in prison or
jail or on probation or parole, and there were more Black males in prison
than attending university (52).
Nation-wide average figures hide huge regional disparities. For instance,
Dilulio reports that in 1997, «about 95 percent of all persons in New York
prisons whose last and most serious conviction was for a drug offense were
black or Hispanic» (53). New York
is one of America’s most populated states. This racial problem is
compounded by the fact that half of prison and jail inmates reported an
income of less than $10,000 before their arrest. In other words, they were
poor. A more recent but related problem has been the female prison
population, which grows above the national average, while the group with
the highest growth rate are Black women (54).
Rationale for Punitive Policies
Due to its status as the linchpin of present-day drug control, and in
view of the above-mentioned impact of recent antidrug legislation, the
relationship between drugs and crime has been the focus of abundant
research in the United States, especially during the last ten to fifteen
years. As mentioned above, here «crime» means unlawful acts other than
drug production, trafficking and use. Indeed, the «Hawk ascendant» (55) which has
had the upper hand on U.S. drug policy since the mid-1980s, and according
to which the best means for the state to fight drugs is to arrest and lock
up traffickers and users (for increasingly longer sentences), has been
largely supported and legitimised by the assumption that drug users and
dealers are despicable criminals who can inflict incredible damages on
society, and as such deserve to be dealt with toughly. In simple terms,
the theory goes like this: drugs lead users to violently deny others their
right to the safe enjoyment of life and private property; individuals are
making a personal choice when they use drugs and therefore they should be
held personally responsible for this choice and its consequences on
others; imprisonment is an adequate means of dealing with them, especially
because it acts (or so the theory goes) as a deterrent against initiating
drug use. Those who supply drugs to others, and therefore induce them to
crime while making a profit, deserve even tougher punishment because they
are viewed as the vectors of the «drug scourge», and they have a strong
incentive (money) to commit this crime; therefore the deterrent against
them needs to be stronger. The following passage of a 1969 Supreme Court
decision illustrates the point:
«Commercial traffic in deadly mind-soul-and body-destroying drugs is
beyond a doubt one of the greatest evils of our time. It cripples
intellects, dwarfs bodies, paralyzes the progress of a substantial segment
of our society, and frequently makes hopeless and sometimes violent and
murderous criminals of persons of all ages who become its victims. Such
consequences call for the most vigorous laws to suppress the traffic as
well as the most powerful efforts to put these vigorous laws into effect»
this theory has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress since the mid-1980s
and justified the allocation of about 70% of the federal drug control
budget to law enforcement, it is more associated with the conservative
forces of U.S. society, which traditionally favour a «law and order»
approach to problems. On the other side of the political spectrum, liberal
Americans lean toward a «social» approach and, as far as the drug issue is
concerned, would prefer that drug users not be treated as criminals (see
It is not possible for this paper to present a sufficiently general and
accurate overview to reflect the extent and diversity of the research done
on this issue during the last ten years (57). But an
issue that has been subject to much scrutiny can be used to illustrate the
point: the effects of drugs on individual criminal behaviour. It is widely
assumed that drug users routinely commit crimes in order to fund their
habit. Another piece of conventional wisdom is that when people are under
the influence of drugs, they loose their inhibitions and commit crimes,
especially violent ones. These notions provide the basis of current
policies that blame illegal substance abuse and trafficking – instead of
other factors such as poverty – for the high crime rates prevailing in the
United States. Through the media, senior U.S. officials routinely evoke
them in order to rally support for, and justify the implementation of, the
tough approach to drug control known as the «War on Drugs» (58). A very
famous illustration is President George Bush’s keynote televised speech on
September 5, 1989. The president, holding a bag of crack he claimed had
been seized «in a park across the street from the White House» a few days
earlier, declared that crack was «turning our cities into battle zones and
murdering our children» and announced his strategy for achieving «victory
over drugs» (59). But a
study carried out with federal funding by Goldstein et al. in New York
City – «America’s crack capital» – in 1988, when the «crack epidemic»
received its most intense media coverage, has shown that both assumptions
are exaggerations of a much more ambiguous reality. Indeed, according to
this research on 414 homicides officially classified as «drug related» by
the New York Police Department (NYPD), «psychopharmacological
crack-related homicides» (homicides caused by the effects of drugs on the
body) made up only 7.5% of the sample and most were caused by alcohol,
crack being blamed in only 1.2 % of cases; «economic compulsion homicides»
(homicides caused by the need to fund a habit) represented 2% of the
sample, while the most numerous category of actually drug-related
homicides was that of «illicit market system homicides» (homicides caused
by the «exigencies of working or doing business in an illicit market»)
with 39.1%. One additional striking result of the study was that 47.3% of
what NYPD classified as «drug-related homicides» were, in fact, not
«drug-related» at all (60). Needless
to say, the results of this study, which was funded by the National
Institute of Justice (see below), are used by advocates of
legalisation/harm-reduction as evidence that current U.S. drug policies
are based on erroneous assumptions regarding the links between drug use
and violence, and that, contrary to conventional wisdom, prohibitive
policies, not drugs, are to blame for the largest proportion of
drug-related violence because they generate a violent underground market.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has been mentioned by several
researchers interviewed during the field study as the largest source of
funds for research on the relationship between drugs and crime. The NIJ is
a research institution that was established within the Department of
Justice in 1969 by the legislation voted in reaction to the
counter-culture movement (see above). Today, the NIJ manages what it
claims (rightly, as far as I know) to be the largest research program on
drugs and crime in the world. This program is called the Arrestee Drug
Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM). It was established in 1997, replacing a
earlier similar project called «Drug Use Forecasting» (DUF), which was
launched in 1987. ADAM is a huge national effort aimed at collecting and
analysing data on drug use among people arrested by county police forces
throughout the United States (61).
Incidentally, and as an illustration of the influence of U.S. methods
world-wide, government institutions in Australia, Chile, England, Scotland
and South Africa have initiated programs modelled on ADAM and requested
technical assistance from NIJ. The latter has developed an international
component, I-ADAM, in order to produce comparative studies (62). ADAM’s
results, like DUF’s before them, show that drug use is far higher among
arrestees than the general population, which establishes a strong
connection between drugs and crime. In turn, this justifies the treatment
of drugs as primarily a crime problem by the authorities. Drugs and crime
are inextricably linked, officials have argued following the line of
argument developed by Harry Anslinger starting in the 1930s. And indeed,
if drug use is higher among offenders, it seems logical to deduct that
drug use leads to the commission of crime.
Or is it? While readily admitting that a nation-wide data collection
effort such as ADAM is positive, some researchers interviewed during my
field work added that ADAM betrays the U.S. federal government ideological
anti-drug bias and its willingness to associate drugs and crime for
reasons that have nothing to do with scientific evidence. Indeed,
independent researchers say that the causal relationship between drugs and
crime is merely a hypothesis that has not been proven true. Two scholars
from the Earl Warren Legal Institute of the University of California at
Berkeley, Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, who have published a highly
regarded study of drug control problems in 1995, even contend that it is
Indeed, they argue that while «it is beyond dispute that drug use and
crime overlap and interact in a multiplicity of ways» (64), the higher
rate of drug use among offenders could be explained by factors in their
personality, such as a higher propensity for taking risks and «a
willingness to ignore the threat of moral condemnation», that lead them to
both commit crimes and take drugs. In this view, both drugs and crime are
simultaneous but independent consequences of other variables; in simple
terms: it is not drug use that causes crime but rather other factors that
lead the vast majority of those who commit crime to also take drugs.
Zimring and Hawkins add that if the propensity for taking risks and
ignoring condemnation varies from one individual to another, the same goes
for their social environment, which is also a source of explanations for
higher crime rates and higher rates of drug use: «The same sort of
covariation can be expected to occur in social settings. Conditions of
social disorganization that invite high levels of predatory crime prove to
be least resistant to the spread of illicit drugs.» (65)
«Set and Setting»: An Essential Concept in
the American Debate
The concept of the social «set and setting» of drug use, or «the
characteristics of the conditions of use, the social conditions that shape
such situations and impinge upon the users, and the historically and
culturally specific meanings and motives used to interpret drug effects (66)» is a
product of American research, and it is a crucial notion in the American
«drugs and crime» debate. The concept was first developed by Norman
Zinberg, Professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in his 1984
book «Drug, Set, and Setting» (67), but it can
be viewed as the latest finding of a tradition in American social science
research on drugs inaugurated in the 1940s and 1950s by sociologists
Alfred Lindesmith and Howard Becker. Zinberg concluded from a comparative
analysis of American and British heroin addicts in the late 1960s that the
differences he found between the two groups were «attributable to their
different social settings—that is, to the differing social and legal
attitudes toward heroin in the two countries (68)». Following
in-depth interviews with heroin addicts in the 1940s, Lindesmith argued
that there was a cognitive side to heroin addiction: users had first to
feel withdrawal symptoms, recognise them as such, and decide to take more
heroin to relieve them before they became addicted. Without this
discovery, heroin use alone did not always lead to addiction, Lindesmith
concluded (69). Becker, in
his famous chapter on «Becoming a Marijuana User» (first published in
1953) followed in the steps of Lindesmith, showing that in order to
experience a marijuana «high», new users had to be taught by experienced
smokers how to smoke, how to recognise initially ambiguous effects, and
then how to interpret the latter as pleasurable. Becker concluded that
social interaction between users is more important than the chemical
interaction of cannabis with the body in order to account for the effects
of marijuana on users. (70) These
concepts run contrary to an important assumption behind current U.S. (and
other countries) drug policy: drugs are addictive in and of themselves
regardless of the context in which they are used. Hence the charge by some
present-day scholars that policy is «pharmaco-centric (71)» or
pervaded by «pharmacological determinism (72)», because
it claims that the problem lies with the substances, not the people and
Although originally the concept of «social setting» was invented to
account for differences in the behaviour of two sets of drug abusers,
Zimring and Hawkings (see above) and other scholars (73), have used
it to explain higher rates of criminal activity, especially drug dealing,
in some communities. This is another extremely important element of the
drug and crime nexus (and of the American drug control debate in general),
as well as a major cause of disagreement between researchers and
policy-makers. Briefly put, social scientists argue that drugs are singled
out as a convenient scapegoat on which to blame problems that have other
causes. These causes are to be found in the wider social and economic
environment of the communities where drug activities are rife. Present
policies are misguided because they view drugs as the cause of social
problems, when in fact they are a consequence of these problems. This is
mostly the argument made by Richard Clayton in his study of commercial
marijuana cultivation in Appalachian Kentucky. (74) Clayton
argues that the marijuana industry is one of the ways that the inhabitants
of the mountainous areas of Kentucky have found to survive in the economic
poverty that characterises their region: «chronic and crushing poverty
have produced a pervasive sense of hopelessness about the future, an
alienation and cynical attitude about the present, and a willingness to do
whatever is necessary in order to get by» (75). In another
study of 28 mostly Black- and Latino-owned «drug businesses» in two
inner-city communities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John Hagedorn argues along
similar lines that «poor people in Milwaukee have responded to the loss of
‘good jobs’ by starting thousands of new, mainly off-the-books businesses.
The most profitable business in this informal sector of our economy,
unfortunately, is the business of drug selling» (76). According
to Clayton and Hagedorn’s studies, poverty and marginalisation due to
racial, ethnic and/or cultural differences are to blame for the
involvement with drugs of residents of rural and urban economically
deprived areas of the United States.
But probably the best research in this regard, and certainly one that
was quoted as such by most of the researchers interviewed during the field
study, is Philippe Bourgois’s in-depth anthropological study of a group of
Puerto Rican crack entrepreneurs in Spanish Harlem, an economically
deprived area of New York City (77). Bourgois’s
penetrating analysis of «the complex relationship between ideological
processes and material reality, and between culture and class» broadly
confirms that poverty, racial and ethnic prejudice and the absence of good
job opportunities are major factors for the spread of drug use and
trafficking in American cities. But, rejecting such «action-reaction»
structural types of explanation as those advanced by Clayton and Hagedorn,
Bourgois analyses the mechanisms by which some of El Barrio’s residents
seek to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life by getting involved in the
crack business. Bourgois destroys the popular image of a badly socialised
and therefore unemployable «underclass» ignorant of the values of
mainstream American society, by portraying Spanish Harlem’s crack
businesspeople as «the ultimate ‘rugged individualists’» who are
«frantically pursuing the American dream» through hard work in the
«dynamic, (…) multibillion-dollar underground economy». The American
anthropologist shows how illegal entrepreneurship provides the «dignity»
that the mainstream economy denies them. Indeed, given their social and
cultural background, all the formal economy has to offer to inner-city
dwellers is what they perceive as «demeaning exploitation» in low-level,
poorly paid jobs, where their ghetto ways are mocked and frowned upon. But
a successful quest for «respect» in the crack business «requires a
systematic and effective use of violence against one’s colleagues, one’s
neighbors, and to a certain extent, oneself». In the drug economy of the
inner city, a reputation of ruthlessness is necessary for the smooth and
secure running of one’s business because it wards off aggressive
competitors and thieves and enforces the «contracts» entered into with
employees and business partners. In this view, violence is not a mark of
their irrationality but rather «judicious public relations, advertising,
rapport building, and long-term investment in one’s ‘human capital’» (78). Their
survival and success are dependent upon their capacity for terror. This
could explain why «illicit market system homicides» was the most numerous
category in the above-mentioned study of crack-related homicides in New
York City by Goldstein et al. Bourgois also has developed a concept to
account, at least partially, for the spread of crack abuse in inner-city
ghettos starting in the mid-1980s — «conjugated oppression». This he
defines as «an ideological dynamic of ethnic discrimination that interacts
explosively with an economic dynamic of class exploitation to produce an
overwhelming experience of oppression that is more than the sum of the
All told, inner-city residents live in a «culture of terror» akin to that
which was developed as «a tool for domination and a principal medium for
political practice» by the military dictatorship in 1970s Argentina. The
culture of terror affects even the residents who are not involved in
criminal activity since it «poisons interpersonal relations throughout
much of the community by legitimizing violence and mandating distrust» (80). The tragic
irony is that unlike Latin America, the inner-city culture of terror is
not imposed by a repressive outside force but self-inflicted as a result
of the pursuit of the American dream. Although Bourgois says that this is
also a «‘culture of resistance’ (…) defined by its stance against
mainstream white, racist, and economically exclusive society (81)», his
conclusion is profoundly pessimistic: «the objective, structural
desperation of a population without a viable economy and facing the
barriers of systematic discrimination and marginalization gets channeled
into self-destructive practices» (82). In his
view, present-day American society generates a «self-regulating» class of
social outcasts fed by the illegal economy who are led to kill one another
by their own culture (terror) and ideology — the American dream.
The interest of Bourgois’s work is that it lends another dimension to
the American «drugs and crime nexus». It could be argued that what he
describes is a very ruthless type of «social usefulness» of the drug
trade, in that it subsidises the economy of deprived areas while substance
abuse and self-centred violence keep the «dangerous classes» at bay.
Indeed, if drugs were not there, would the «underclass» not direct its
violence against the mainstream society and economy that reject them? Is
the drugs and crime nexus a «modern» type of social management of the
unemployed labour force resulting from the large-scale shifts in the
American economy since the 1980s? These important questions will not be
answered here, but it must be pointed out that for a proportion of the
United States population, drugs seem to play the same role as in parts of
Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe – subsidising the economy (83).
The federal government of the United States pioneered international
drug control efforts at the start of the 20th century, and to
this day drugs remain an important foreign policy concern, especially
toward Latin America and in particular NAFTA partner Mexico. As a
consequence, the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and drugs has
been the object of much research by American social scientists, giving
rise to a lively and diverse tradition that is briefly reviewed in the
paragraphs below. The reason historically invoked by U.S. officials to
justify their country’s «narco-diplomacy» is the perceived need to stop
drugs before they enter the United States. «Supply reduction», as this
strategy has been termed in policy and research papers since the 1980s,
can be viewed as a recent avatar of the much longer standing domestic use
of law enforcement as the favoured tool of drug control. Likewise, those
who used to advocate the «treatment» of addicts instead of their
criminalisation, now talk of the need for «demand reduction» (admittedly,
that includes prevention as well as treatment). Therefore, it appears that
the concepts supporting the foreign drug policy of the U.S. government are
a modernised version (and one that sounds more «scientific») of the old
ingredients of the American debate mentioned earlier in this paper. The
fact that these terms are now used throughout the international community
is one more illustration of the influence the United States carries in the
field of drugs.
The earliest trace of a paper about drug policy published in an
American journal that this writer has found is Raymond Buell’s 1925
critical assessment of the intransigence of American diplomats toward
foreign counterparts during the conferences on opium at the League of
Nations in Geneva in the 1920s (84). Buell
wrote that American representatives at one of the conferences, which aimed
at establishing a form of international control on the opium trade, were
asking for many important concessions, which their counterparts refused to
grant. As a result, the American delegation angrily left the negotiating
table. True, Buell’s paper is better described as political commentary
than as research, and Foreign Affairs, which published it, is more
a forum for debating U.S. foreign policy options than a social science
journal (although social scientists often write in it). Nevertheless, in
retrospect Buell’s scolding of the attitude of American officials in a
diplomatic meeting on the question of opium control can be viewed as an
important landmark. One reason is that it is the first occurrence of what
would become a permanent feature in U.S. research: criticising a federal
government position because it makes things worse, not better.
In this instance, Buell describes American intransigence in Geneva as
irrational given the international context at the time because instead of
working for a compromise, which would have meant a step toward fulfilling
its objectives, the U.S. delegation preferred to take a high moral stand
and forfeit the furtherance of its goals. Buell describes this as a
setback for international opium control efforts, which the United States
itself had initiated some 15 years earlier at the Shangai conference of
1909. A second and more specific reason why Buell’s article is important
here is that it is also the first recorded trace of scholarly commentary
on American «narco-diplomacy», even if it was not yet so named at the
time. Again, Buell’s harsh criticism seems in retrospect to be the start
of a stream in American social science writing that is still very much
vivid today, albeit more diversified.
The vast majority of present research focuses on United States-Latin
American relations and is mostly concerned with cocaine, while in the
1960s and 1970s it was Asia and heroin that preoccupied researchers and
policy-makers. Broadly speaking, present-day scholars working on U.S.
foreign policy all agree that it is flawed, but for different reasons.
Three categories of research can be identified. The first and largest
category is made up of what could be called the self-appointed «advisors»
of the federal government. Probably the best-known representative of this
category is Bruce Bagley, who is working in the field of International
Relations (85). From a
variety of angles, these authors evaluate the policies implemented by
Washington and criticise U.S. narco-diplomacy as ill-adapted to fulfil its
officially stated objective of reducing the supply of drugs coming from
Latin America into the United States. This is because the U.S. strategy
itself is flawed and because other, more important, U.S. foreign-policy
priorities, such as economic policy, are in contradiction with it (86). In the
late 1970s and early 1980s, most of the attention was focused on Mexico (87), while in
the mid-1980s, with Reagan’s and Bush’s war on cocaine and the war against
«communist subversion» in Central America, Andean countries came to the
foreground (88). With the
advent of NAFTA in 1994, Mexico has attracted much interest in both
political and research circles (see below) (89).
A second category of authors are concerned with the negative
consequences of U.S. narco-diplomacy in Latin America, mainly its adverse
impact on human rights and, with the U.S.-promoted militarisation of the
«drug war» in Andean countries and Mexico, on democracy (90). Perhaps
the most consistent examples of such U.S. narco-diplomacy critics are to
be found in the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) (91), while
human rights violations resulting from U.S.-promoted drug enforcement
tactics in foreign countries have also attracted negative comments from
Human Rights organisations (92).
Finally, the third category is made up of authors who study the links
between American federal agencies, especially the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA), and drug trafficking outside the United States (93). Like their
most famous representative, historian Alfred McCoy, these authors contend
that recent American drug «epidemics» are due to CIA complicity with
foreign drug producers and traffickers, and they denounce the war on drugs
as a fraud.
MOST and the United
One of the MOST network members, Mexican sociologist Luis Astorga, has
written chapters in two forthcoming volumes, which, judging from their
introductions that the editors kindly have made available, appear as
important contributions in contemporary U.S. research on drugs. Astorga’s
participation and the originality of the books amply justify that they be
briefly commented upon here.
The first volume, «Organized Crime & Democratic Governability in
Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands», is edited by political
scientists John Bailey and Roy Godson (94). Its
importance lies in the fact that, for the first time as far as this writer
knows, leading American political scientists critically examine the links
between government and organised crime, not only in Mexico but in the
United States as well. Although the book restricts its focus to the impact
of organised crime in the American border area (as opposed to the United
States as a whole), it is significant because it can be seen as reversing
a long-standing trend in American discourse on the drugs issue. Indeed,
judging from most past press and research reports, casual observers could
have thought that the United States was immune from the «threat» of
large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering organisations that their
politicians and bureaucrats have denounced so vocally in Latin America,
especially Mexico (95). As Bailey
and Godson understate in their introduction to the volume: «This is a
point of some controversy, in that Mexican critics have long been
skeptical that U.S.-based, Anglo-dominated criminal groups would allow
such immensely profitable operations to be run by Mexicans» (96). This is
all we will say about this interesting forthcoming collective volume here,
since its focus on one part of the world is perhaps too narrow to be of
interest to all MOST members.
By contrast, the second collective volume, «Cocaine: Global Histories»,
edited by Paul Gootenberg, Professor of history at the State University
New York (SUNY), has a global scope and raises issues that should attract
the attention of all MOST researchers (97). Alongside
essays on the United States, Peru, Japan (and South East Asia), the
Netherlands (and Java), Germany, the United Kingdom and Colombia, Astorga
has written the chapter on Mexico. It must be noted that all the chapters
are based on original archival research as the authors are convinced that
«new stories lie hiding in archives around the world, that take us behind
and beyond received narratives about cocaine» (98). Astorga’s
socio-historical studies of drug trafficking in Mexico are excellent
illustrations of the usefulness of archives for new approaches to drug
problems (99). «Cocaine:
Global Histories» studies how cocaine has passed from the status of
medical miracle to that of dangerous enemy of most countries and the
international community in about 100 years or, as Gootenberg puts it,
«just how is it that drugs get redefined as socially menacing». One of the
book’s many interests is Gootenberg’s impressive historiography of
scientific research into cocaine since the 1860s. Building from this
legacy, but firmly rooted in the present (the «Age of Crack»), the book
sets out to inaugurate a «third wave» of research into cocaine, the
foundations of which Gootenberg defines in the introduction.
From the outset, the book announces its «skepticism about prohibition
as sound drug policy and about the discourse and categories deployed and
left by anti-drug crusaders, past and present», which are thought of as
«social-scientifically futile, actively misguided or morally tragic».
Dissatisfaction with U.S. drug policy has been a historical hallmark of
drug research in America, as this paper has tried to show. However,
Gootenberg stresses that his objective is not political advocacy, but
methodological consistency by clearly identifying the object of the book,
which is to study a «system – Prohibitions – so as to analyze its origins
as a system and its systematic, if often unintended, consequences». The
book thereby takes on board present research concerns in the United
States, while its authors rely on concepts that have emerged out of
American social science, some of which have been mentioned in this paper.
For instance, while explaining the «constructionist» epistemological
approach of the book, Gootenberg calls forth the classic concept of «set
and setting», which comes from American sociology and psychiatry (see
above), and shows its relevance for history, too: «History and national
cultures, in an enlarged sense, are arguably social set and settings of
the largest kind». In this view, drugs are first and foremost social
animals, which justifies the book’s constructionist approach since,
contrary to claims by American (and most other) policy-makers, «drugs are
made, not born, and borne largely from cultural and political
circumstances», while «naturalized notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ drugs and
narcotic ‘control’ (…) might well be about other things and cry out for
critical insight» (100).
Finally, possibly the most important contribution of the book, and
certainly one that will please MOST members, is the notion that drugs
should now be a «central» concern of historical research because they are
«one field where the ongoing contest between structural and
post-structural historical thinking might find some creative common
ground». However, Gootenberg appears overly restrictive in limiting the
usefulness of drug studies to opening new perspectives in history only. It
is hard to see why the increasing relevance of cultural-studies and
linguistic methodological approaches he evokes in support of the volume’s
own approach should not also be useful in other spheres of social science
in order to open much needed new fields of drug research, precisely
because drug studies require «an appreciation of both the rational
‘interests’ and irrational ‘passions’ that met in their making, i.e. their
realities and their representations, their settings and
special powers». Gootenberg’s well-crafted argumentation reveals the
special research status of drugs, their uniqueness as a depository where
both passion and reason meet and interact (101) («drugs
are protean and relational things and cultural magnets for charged
meanings»), and that research times are ripe for such subjects.
This will be heartening to social scientists specialising in drug studies
worldwide, who are too often viewed as «mavericks» by their peers.
This paper has attempted to present an overview of the problems raised
by drugs in the United States by reviewing current issues and their
historical sources. It has suggested that the United States is the largest
producer of drug research in the world, while it is also the world’s only
«drug-control superpower». However, the simultaneous leadership in social
science and world agenda-setting is not the result of a symbiotic
relationship between American research and policy-making. On the contrary,
it was found that historically U.S. policy has been largely immune from
the influence of research, even government-funded research, while a vast
proportion of American social science research on drugs has been focused
primarily on policy, which has been viewed as a crucial element of
America’s drug problem. While they have not been able to achieve their
official objective of reducing drug abuse, current U.S. drug policy has
resulted in the imprisonment of a large proportion of the American
population, mostly poor members of ethnic and racial minorities.
Researchers have found that the causal relationship between drugs and
crime that serves as the basis and «rationale» for present policies has
been vastly exaggerated. In addition, the stringent law-and-order approach
adopted by the various levels of U.S. government has been found to be too
costly in financial terms, while its enforcement has led to what appears
to be widespread human rights abuse, and charges of racial and ethnic
prejudice that historians say have been a permanent feature of American
drug control since its origins in the late 19th century.
Other scholars (most notably those of the Drug Policy Research Center
of the Rand Corporation), have argued that the drug phenomenon is not
amenable to control by means of legislation. In this view, any drug
control policy, whether based on prohibition or legalisation, is a futile
effort. However, the same researchers have stressed that American
policy-makers have been «negligent» in not properly assessing the
consequences of the policies they have implemented.
Some scholars maintain that U.S. drug policy is «pharmaco-centric»,
meaning that it wrongly assumes that the problem lies with the substances,
not the people and their social, cultural, ideological and economic
environment («set and setting»). Thus, many social scientists say that
policy has been geared toward suppressing the symptoms of deeper social
problems in U.S. society rather than attacking the root causes, which
explains the failure of government action. In their view, drugs have been
singled out as a convenient scapegoat on which to blame and explain away
some of the more disturbing problems experienced by American society. The
mirror-image of this charge could be to say that American drug policy has
been «asociological», or even «anti-sociological» considering the general
disregard it has shown for the social and economic conditions of the
majority of those who are imprisoned under American drug laws. But yet
another school of research suggests that this assertion is flawed by
insisting that drug control policy is not aimed at controlling drugs but
rather the «dangerous classes» that American mainstrean society has
historically associated them with. Bourgois’s research has shed a
different kind of light on the relationship between drugs, poverty and
racial/ethnic exclusion in present-day America. By convincingly arguing
that drugs have given rise to a «culture of terror» that could be viewed
as an internalised and self-imposed mechanism of control, Bourgois joins
Peter Reuter and his colleagues in concluding that, even for the purpose
of class control, harsh law enforcement is a futile exercise.
Clearly, given the number and diversity of objective and subjective
factors at play, there are no easy answers to the drug problem. But if one
conclusion can be reached at the end of this report, it is that the drug
issue has given rise to a century-long conflict between politics and
research. The history of drug control in America seems to prove true
Gootenberg’s claim that drugs must be viewed as the locus of passion and
reason. The fact that so far reason has failed to bring passion under
«control» in the United States suggests that MOST’s objectives will not be
easily achieved and highlights the need for more programs like it.
on Drug Trafficking and Related Issues in the United States
This bibliography covers books and articles on various aspects of drug
trafficking and drug policy published in the United States between 1989
and 1999. The literature is listed by alphabetical order by author’s name
and organised into ten sections: Drug-Control Policy and Criminal
Justice Issues; International Relations; Security and
Military Issues; Money Laundering; History;
Anthropology/Sociology; Latin American Studies,
Bibliographical Issues; Marijuana; and Economics of Drug
Trafficking and Use. Some sections are broken down into subsections
when both the variety of issues tackled and the number of entries made it
possible. Although in many cases the classification is arbitrary – because
some works «straddle» several categories – it is hoped that it reflects
the comparative richness and diversity of research on drug trafficking and
related issues in the United States.
Caveat emptor: Although large, this bibliography does not claim
to be exhaustive. The literature covered is that which I became aware of
during a one-month study trip to the United States in April/May 1999.
Apologies are offered to the authors whose work should have been listed
here and is not.
Laurent Laniel, Paris, June 1999
DRUG CONTROL POLICY AND CRIMINAL
1. Methodological and Economic
BUREAU OF JUSTICE ASSISTANCE: Lessons Learned from the Organized
Crime Narcotics (OCN) Trafficking Enforcement Program Model, BJA
Monograph, Department of Justice, Washington, December 1998.
CAULKINS, J. RYDELL, P. EVERINGHAM, S., CHIESA, J. & BUSHWAY, S.:
An Ounce of Prevention, a Pound of Uncertainty: The Cost-Effectiveness
of School-Based Drug Prevention Programs, RAND, Santa Monica, 1999.
CAULKINS, J.: «What Does Mathematical Modeling Tell Us About Harm
Reduction?», in Drug and Alcohol Review, Vol. 15, 1996.
— «Dealing With the Country's Drug Problem», in OR/MS Today,
— «Evaluating the Effectiveness of Interdiction and Source Country
Control», paper presented at the Economics of the Narcotics Industry
— & REUTER, P.: «Setting Goals for Drug Policy: Harm Reduction or
Use Reduction?», in Addiction, Vol. 92, No. 9, 1997.
— & REUTER, P.: «The Meaning and Utility of Drug Prices», in
Vol. 91, No. 9, 1996.
— CRAWFORD, G. & REUTER, P.: «Simulation of Adaptive Response: A
Model of Drug Interdiction», in Mathematical and Computer
Modelling, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1993.
— EBENER, P. & McCAFFREY, D.: «Describing DAWN's Dominion», in
Contemporary Drug Problems, Vol. 22, No. 3, 1995.DiNARDO,
J.: «Law Enforcement, the Price of Cocaine and Cocaine Use», in
Mathematical and Computer Modelling, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1993.
DRUG STRATEGIES: Keeping Score 1998, Washington, 1998.
— Keeping Score 1996, Drug Strategies, Washington, 1996.
— Keeping Score 1995, Drug Strategies , Washington,
1996.GREENWOOD, P.: «Strategies for Improving the Coordination
between Enforcement and Treatment Efforts in Controlling Illegal Drug
Use», in Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1995.
HAAGA, J., & REUTER, P. (eds.): Improving Data for Federal Drug
Policy Decisions, RAND, Santa Monica, January 1991.
KAHAN, J., RYDELL, P. & SETEAR, J.: «A Game of Urban Drug Policy»,
in Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol. 1, No. 3,
— SETEAR, J., BITZINGER, M., COLEMAN, S. & FEINLEIB, J.:
Developing Games of Local Drug Policy, RAND, Santa Monica,
1992.MacKENZIE, D. & UCHIDA, C. (eds.): Drugs and Crime:
Evaluating Public Policy Initiatives, Sage, Thousand Oaks, 1994.
MURPHY, P.: Coordinating Drug Policy at the State and Federal
Levels, Research Brief, RAND Drug Policy Research Center, RB-6005,
Santa Monica, 1997.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE: Department of Justice and Department
of Defense Joint Technology Program: Second Anniversary Report,
Research Report, Department of Justice, Washington, February 1997.
RASMUSSEN, D. & BERSON, R.: The Economic Anatomy of a Drug
War, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 1994.
REUTER, P.: «Setting Priorities: Budget and Program Choices for Drug
Control», in The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1994.
— «Prevalence Estimation and Policy Formulation», in Journal of
Drug Issues, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1993.
— «The Limits and Consequences of U.S. Foreign Drug Control Efforts»,
in The Annals, Vol. 521, 1992.
— & MacCOUN, R.: «Harm Reduction and Social Policy: Should Addicts
Be Paid?», in Drug and Alcohol Review, Vol. 15,
1996.RYDELL, P., CAULKINS, J. & EVERINGHAM, S.: «Enforcement
or Treatment: Modeling the Relative Efficacy of Alternatives for
Controlling Cocaine», in Operations Research, Vol. 44, No. 5,
RYDELL, P. & EVERINGHAM, S.: Controlling Cocaine: Supply versus
Demand Programs, RAND, Santa Monica, 1994.
THORNTON, M.: The Economics of Prohibition, University of Utah
Press, Salt Lake City, 1991.
2. The Drug Policy debate
ANDREAS, P., BERTRAM, E., BLACHMAN & M. SHARPE, K.: Drug War
Politics: The Price of Denial, University of California Press,
Berkeley and Oxford, 1996.
BAUM, D.: Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of
Failure, Little & Brown, Boston, 1996.
BAUMGARTNER, F. & JONES, B.: Agendas and Instability in American
Politics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1993.
BAYER, R. & OPPENHEIMER, G.: Confronting Drug Policy: Illicit
Drugs in a Free Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New
BENJAMIN, D. & MILLER, R.L.: Undoing Drugs: Beyond
Legalization, BasicBooks, New York, 1991.
BENSON, B. & RASMUSSEN, D.: Illicit Drugs and Crime, The
Independent Institute, Oakland, 1996.
BICKEL, W. & DEGRANDPRE, R. (eds.): Drug Policy and Human
Nature: Psychological Perspectives on the Control, Prevention, and
Treatment of Illicit Drug Use, Plenum Press, New York, 1996.
BOAZ, D.: The Crisis in Drug Prohibition, Cato Institute,
Washington, DC, 1990.
BUGLIOSI, V.: The Phoenix Solution: Getting Serious about Winning
America's Drug War, Dove Books, Beverley Hills, 1996.
DUKE, S. & GROSS, A.: America’s Longest War: Rethinking our
Tragic Crusade against Drugs, Putnam, New York, 1993.
EVANS, R. & BERENT, M.: Drug Legalization: For and Against,
Open Court, La Salle, 1992.
FALCO, M.: The Making of a Drug-Free America: Programs that
Work, Times Books, New York, 1992.
— Winning the Drug War: A National Strategy, Priority Press,
New York, 1989.INCIARDI, J.: Handbook of Drug Control in the
United States, Greenwood Press, New York, 1990.
— & McBRIDE, D.: «Legalization: A High-Risk Alternative in the
War on Drugs», in American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 32,
1989.KAHAN, J.: Can Gaming of Social Policy Issues Help Translate
Good Intentions into Change? RAND, Drug Policy Research Center Issue
Paper, Santa Monica, 1993.
KLEIMAN, M.: Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results, Basic
Books, New York, 1992.
— «Neither Prohibition nor Legalization», in Daedalus, Vol.
121, No. 3, 1992.KORNBLUM, W.: «Drug Legalization and the Minority
Poor», in Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3, 1991.
KRASKA, P. (ed.): Altered States of Mind: a Critical Observation of
the Drug War, Garland Publishers, New York, 1993.
KRAUSS, M. & LAZEAR, E. (eds.): Searching for Alternatives: Drug
Control Policy in the United States, Hoover Institution Press,
LETWIN, M.: «Report from the Frontline: The Bennet Plan, Street-Level
Drug Enforcement in New York City and the Legalization Debate», in
Hofstra Law Review, No.18, 1990.
LEVINE, H. & REINARMAN, C.: «From Prohibition to Regulation:
Lessons from Alcohol Policy for Drug Policy», in Milbank Quarterly,
Vol. 69, No. 3, 1991.
LONG, R.E., Drugs in America, H.W. Wilson, New York, 1993.
LYMAN, M. & POTTER, G.: Drugs in Society: Causes, Concepts, and
Control, Anderson Publishing, Cincinatti, 1991.
MacCOUN, R..: «Drugs and the Law: A Psychological Analysis of Drug
Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 113, No. 3, 1993.
— KAHAN, J., GILLESPIE, J. & RHEE, J.: «A Content Analysis of the
Drug Legalization Debate», in Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 23, No.
4, 1993.MacCOUN, R. &: REUTER P.: «Drug Control», in TONRY, M.
(ed.): The Handbook of Crime and Punishment, Oxford University
Press, Oxford and New York, 1998.
— «Interpreting Dutch Cannabis Policy: Reasoning by Analogy in the
Legalization Debate», in Science, Vol. 278, 3 October 1997.
— & SCHELLING, T.: «Assessing Alternative Drug Control Regimes»,
in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 15, No. 3, June
1996.MASSING, M.: The Fix, Simon & Schuster, New
McSHANE, M. & WILLIAMS, F (eds.): Drug Use and Drug Policy,
Garland Publishers, New York, 1997.
MIECZKOWSKI, T. (ed.): Drugs, Crime, and Social Policy: Research,
Issues, and Concerns, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, 1992.
MOORE, M.: «Drugs: Getting a Fix on the Problem and the Solution», in
Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 8, 1990.
MURPHY, P.: Keeping Score: The Frailties of the Federal Drug
Budget, RAND Drug Policy
Research Center Issue Paper, IP-138, Santa Monica, January 1994.
NADELMANN, E.: «Commonsense Drug Policy», Foreign Affairs,
Vol.77, No.1, January/February 1998.
— «Thinking Seriously About Alternatives to Drug Prohibition», in
Daedalus, Vol. 121, No. 3, 1992.
— «Legalization is the Answer», in Issues in Science and
Technology, summer 1990.
— «Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences and
Alternatives», in Science, September 1, 1989.PETERSON,
R.: The Success of Tough Law Enforcement, Vestal, New York, 1996.
SKOLNICK, J.: «Rethinking the Drug Problem», in Daedalus, Vol.
121, No. 3, 1992.
REINARMAN, C. & LEVINE, H. (eds.): Crack in America, Demon Drugs
and Social Justice, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los
Angeles and London, 1997.
REUTER, P.: «Why Can’t We Make Prohibition Work Better? Some
Consequences of Ignoring the Unattractive, in Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society, Vol. 141, No.3, September 1997.
— & CAULKINS, J.: «Redefining the Goals of National Drug Policy:
Report of a Working Group», in American Journal of Public Health,
Vol. 85, No. 8, 1995.
— «Hawks Ascendant: The Punitive Trend of American Drug Policy», in
Daedalus, Vol. 121, No.3, Summer 1992.
— & HAAGA, J.: «The Limits of the Czar's Ukase: Drug Policy at the
in Yale Law and Policy Review, Vol. 8, No. 1,
1990.SHARP, E.: The Dilemma of Drug Policy in the United
States, HarperCollins, New York, 1994.
STERLING, E.: «Drug Policy of a Failed User», in Legal Times: Law
and Lobbying in the Nation’s Capital, May 22 1995.
— «Is the Bill of Rights a Casualty of the War on Drugs?», Paper
presented at the 92nd Annual Convention of the Colorado Bar
Association, Aspen, September 14, 1990.SZASZ, T.: Our Right to
Drugs: The case for a Free Market, Praeger, New York, 1992.
THEVENOT, C.: Crises of the Anti-Drug Effort, 1999, Criminal
Justice Policy Foundation, Washington, 1999.
TREBACH, A.: «Tough Choices: The Practical Politics of Drug Policy
Reform», in American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 32, 1989.
— & ZEESE, K. (eds.): Strategies for Change: New directions in
Drug Policy, Drug policy Foundation, Washington, 1994.
— New frontiers in Drug Policy, The Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C., 1991.
— The Great Issues of Drug Policy, The Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C., 1990.
— Drug Prohibition and the Conscience of Nations, The Drug
Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1990.WALTERS, J. &
O’GARA, J.: The Clinton Administration’s Continuing Retreat in the War
on Drugs, The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder Update No.279,
Washington, July 1996.
WARNER, K.: «Legalizing Drugs: Lessons from (and about) Economics», in
Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 4, 1991.
WEATHERBURN, D. & LIND, B.: «Drug Law Enforcement Policy and its
Impact on the Heroin Market», in Addiction, Vol. V, No.92, 1996.
WILSON, J.: «Against the Legalization of Drugs», in Commentary,
WISOTSKY, S.: Beyond the War on Drugs: Overcoming of a Failed Public
Policy, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, 1990.
ZIMRING, F. & HAWKINS, G.: The Search for Rational Drug
Control, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York and
3. General Criminal Justice
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: The State of Criminal Justice: An Annual
Report, Washington, DC, 1993.
— The Community Anti-Drug Coalition Initiative, Special
Committee on the Drug Crisis, Washington, DC, 1991.BECKETT, K.:
Making Crime Pay: Law and Order in Contemporary American Politics,
Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1997.
BELENKO, S., FAGAN, J. & CHIN, K.L.: «Criminal Justice Responses to
Crack», in Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 28,
BELENKO, S., NICKERSON, G. & RUBENSTEIN, T.: Crack and the New
York Courts: A Study of Judicial Responses and Attitudes, New York
City Criminal Justice Agency, New York, December 1990.
BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS: Drugs, Crime and the Justice System: A
National Report, Government Printing Office, Washington, December
CARTER, D.: «Drug-related Corruption of Police Officers: A Contemporary
Typology», in Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 18, 1990.
DONZINGER, S. (ed.): The Real War on Crime: The Report of the
National Criminal Justice Commission, HarperPerrenial, New York, 1996.
FINN, P. & NEWLYN, A.: Miami’s «Drug Court»: A Different
Approach, National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC, 1993.
GAINES, L. & KRASKA, P.: Drugs, Crime, and Justice: Contemporary
Perspectives, Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, 1997.
GOLDKAMP, J. & WEILAND, D.: Assessing the Impact of Dade
County’s Felony Drug Court, National Institute of Justice, Washington,
GOLDSTEIN, P.: «Drugs and Violent Crime», in WEINER, N. & WOLFGANG,
M.: Pathways to Criminal Violence, Sage Publications, Newbury Park,
INCIARDI, J. (ed.): Drug Treatment and Criminal Justice Issues,
Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, 1993.
IRWIN, J. & AUSTIN, J.: It’s About Time: America’s Imprisonment
Binge, Wadsworth, Belmont, 1994.
MAUER, M.: Americans Behind Bars: U.S. and International Use of
Incarceration, 1995, The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., 1997
(this is an update of similar studies published since 1991).
MOORE, M.: «Drugs, the Criminal Law, and the Administration of Justice,
in Milbank Quarterly, Vol.69, No.4, 1991.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE: When Neighbors Go to Jail: Impact on
Attitudes About Formal and Informal Social Control, NIJ Research
Preview, Department of Justice, Washington, July 1999.
— National Evaluation of Weed and Seed, NIJ Research in Brief,
Department of Justice, Washington, June 1999.
— Reducing Crime and Drug Dealing by Improving Place Management: A
Randomized Experiment, NJI Research in Brief, Department of Justice,
Washington, January 1999.
— 1998 Annual Report on Drug Use Among Adult and Juvenile
Arrestees, Research Report, Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program
(ADAM), Department of Justice, Washington, April 1999.
— COWLES, E., CASTELLANO, T. & GRANSKY, L.: «Boot Camp» Drug
Treatment and Aftercare Interventions: An Evaluation Review, NIJ
Research in Brief, Department of Justice, Washington, July 1995.
— MAXSON, C.: Street Gangs and Drug Sales in Two Suburban
Cities, NIJ Research in Brief, Department of Justice, Washington, July
— HEPBURN, J., JOHNSTON, W. & ROGERS, S.: Do Drugs, Do Time: An
Evaluation of the Maricopa County Demand Reduction Program, NIJ
Research in Brief, Department of Justice, Washington, October 1994.
— DUNWORTH, T. & SAIGER, A.: Drugs and Crime in Public Housing:
A Three-City Analysis, NIJ Research Report, Department of Justice,
Washington, 1994.SADOVSKY BAGGINGS, D.: Drug Hate and the
Corruption of American Justice, Praeger, New York, 1998.
SCHLOSSER, E.: «The Prison-Industrial Complex», in The Atlantic
Monthly, Vol. 282, No.6, December 1998.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: An Ananlysis of Non-Violent Drug
Offenders with Minimal Criminal Histories, Government Printing Office,
WEISEL, D.: Police Antidrug Tactics: New Approaches and
Applications, Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, 1996.
WEISHEIT, R. (ed.): Drugs, Crime, and the Criminal Justice
System, Anderson Publishing Company, Cincinnati, 1990.
WILSON, J. & TONRY, M. (eds.): Drugs and Crime (Crime and
Justice, Vol 13), University of Chicago Press, Evanston, 1991.
— Drugs and Crime: Review of Research, University of Chicago
Press, Chicago, 1990.
4. Sentencing and Human Rights
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: United States: Human Rights Concerns in the
Border Region with Mexico, AMR 51/03/98, May 1998.
— Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York Police
Department, AMR 51/36/96, June 1996.CAULKINS, J., RYDELL, P.,
SCHWABE, W. & CHIESA, J.: Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences:
Throwing Away the Key or the Taxpayers’ Money?, RAND, Santa Monica,
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE: «Three Strikes and You’re Out»: A
Review of State Legislation, NIJ Research in Brief, Department of
Justice, Washington, September 1997.
DILULIO, J.: «Against Mandatory Minimums: The Disaster of
Drug-Sentencing Laws», in National Review, May 17, 1999.
DiMASCIO, W.: Seeking Justice: Crime and Punishment in America,
The Edna McConnel Clark Foundation, New York, 1997.
FAMM: History of Mandatory Minimums, Families Against Mandatory
Minimums (FAMM), Washington, 1998.
— What’s Wrong with Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Families
Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Washington, 1992.HUMAN RIGHTS
WATCH: Cruel and Usual: Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug
Offenders, Human Rights Watch Report, Vol.9, No.2(B), Human Rights
Violations in the United States, New York, March 1997.
HUSAK, D.: Drugs and Rights, Cambridge University Press, New
GREENWOOD, P.: Three Strikes and You're Out: Estimated Costs and
Benefits of California's New Mandatory-Sentencing Law, RAND, Santa
MEIERHOEFER, B.: The General Effect of Mandatory Minimum Prison
Terms: A Longitudinal Study of Federal Sentences Imposed, Federal
judicial Center, Washington, 1992.
MUSCOREIL, K.: New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, The November
Coalition, Colville, April/May 1998.
UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing
Policy, Government Printing Office, Washington DC, February 1995.
5. Race, Ethnicity and Gender
BROWN, R.: «The Black Community and the ‘War on Drugs’», in TREBACH, A.
& ZEESE, K. (eds.): The Great Issues of Drug Policy, The Drug
Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1990.
CANY & NYSCCJ: Imprisoned Generation, A Report by the
Correctional Association of New York & the New York State Coalition
for Criminal Justice, New York, 1990.
EDSALL, T. with EDSALL, M.: Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race,
Rights and Taxes on American Politics, W.W. Norton, New York, 1991.
FREEMAN, R.: «Crime and the Employment of Disadvantaged Youth»,
National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 3875, Washington,
HULING, T.: Injustice Will Be Done: Women Drug Couriers and the
Rockefeller Drug Laws, Correctional Association of New York, New York,
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Race and Drug Law Enforcement in the State of
Georgia, A Human Rights Watch Short Report, Vol. 8, No. 4, July 1996.
KENNEDY, R.: Race, Crime and the Law, Vintage Books, New York,
LUSANE, C.: Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs, South
End Press, Boston, 1991.
MAUER, M.: Race to Incarcerate, The Sentencing Project,
Washington D.C., 1999.
— War on Drugs: Racial Impact of a Failed Policy, The
Sentencing Project, Washington D.C., 1997.
— «The Drug War’s Unequal Justice», in The Drug Policy Letter,
No.28, winter 1996.
— Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years
Later, The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., 1995.
— «Alice in Wonderland Goes to Criminal Court, or How Do We Develop a
More Effective Sentencing System?», in Public Law Review, Saint Louis
— Lock 'Em Up and Throw Away the Key: African American Males and the
Criminal Justice System, National Urban League, Washington, DC., 1993.
— & SHINE, K.: Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?: Drug Users
and Drunk Drivers, Questions of Race and Class, The Sentencing
Project, Washington D.C., 1993.
— Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System: A Growing
National Problem., The Sentencing Project, Washington D.C.,
1990.MEIER, K.: «Race and the War on Drugs: America’s Dirty
Little Secret», in Policy Currents, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1992.
MILLER, J.: Hobbling a Generation: Young African American Males in
the Criminal Justice System of America’s Cities, National Center on
Institutions and Alternatives, Alexandria, 1992.
MORLEY, J.: «White Gram’s Burden», in The Drug Policy Letter,
No.28, winter 1996.
RENSHAW, K.: «A Civil Approach to a Controversial Issue: Minnesota’s
Attempt to Deal with Mothers of ‘Cocaine Babies’», in Hamline Journal
of Public Law and Policy, Vol.11, 1990.
ROBERTS, D.: «Punishing Drug Addicts Who Have Babies: Women of Color,
Equality, and the Right of Privacy», in Havard Law Review, Vol.104, 1991.
SCHIRALDY, V., KUYPER, S. & HEWITT, S.: Young African Americans
and the Criminal Justice System in California: Five Years Later,
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, San Francisco, Washington &
Baltimore, February 1996.
STERLING, E.: Racially Disproportionate Outcomes in Processing Drug
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MURPHY, S., WALDORF, D. & REINARMAN, C.: «Drifting into Dealing:
Becoming a Cocaine Seller», in Qualitative Sociology, No.13, 1990.
REINARMAN, C.: «The Social Construction of Drug Scares», in ADLER, P.
& ADLER, P. (eds.): Constructions of Deviance, Wadsworth,
— «Glasnost in U.S. Drug Policy?: Clinton Constrained», in
International Journal of Drug Policy, No.5, 1994.RUMBARGER,
J.: Profit, Power and Prohibition: Alcohol Reform and the
Industrializing of America, 1800-1930, University of New York Press,
SIMON, D. & BURNS, E.: The Corner: A Year in the Life of an
Inner-City Neighbourhood, Broadway Books, New York, 1998.
STALEY, S.: Drug Policy and the Decline of American Cities,
Transactions Publishers, New Brunswick, 1992.
WALDORF, D., REINARMAN, C. & MURPHY, S.: Cocaine Changes: The
Experience of Using and Quitting, Temple University Press,
WALLACE, J. & Bachman, J.: «Explaining Racial/Ethnic Differences in
Adolescent Drug Use: The Impact of Background and Lifestyle», in Social
Problems, Vol.38, 1991.
WILLIAMS, T. & KORNBLUM, W.: The Uptown Kids: Struggle and Hope
in the Projects, Putnam, New York, 1994.
WILLIAMS, T.: Crackhouse, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,
Reading (USA), 1992.
— The Cocaine Kids, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading
ELWOOD, W.: Rhetoric in the War on Drugs: The Triumphs and
Tragedies of Public Relations, Praeger, Westport, 1994.
- Media issues
GONZENBACH, W.: The Media, the President, and Public Opinion: A
Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991, L. Erlbaum
Associates, Mahwah, 1996.
REEVES, J. & CAMPBELL, R.: Cracked Coverage. Television News,
the Anti-Cocaine Crusade, and the Reagan Legacy, Duke University
Press, Durham and London, 1994.
REINARMAN, C. & LEVINE, H.:
«Crack in Context: Politics and Media in the Making of a Drug Scare», in
Contemporary Drug Problems, Vol. 16, 1989.
AGUAYO QUEZADA, S.: «Intelligence Services and the Transition to
Democracy in Mexico», in BAILEY, J. & AGUAYO QUEZADA, S.: Strategy
and Security in U.S.-Mexican relations Beyond the Cold War, Center for
U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, 1996.
BURKE, M.: «Bolivia: The Politics of Cocaine», in Current
History, Vol. 90, No. 553, 1991.
HEALY, K.: «Political Ascent of Bolivia's Peasant Coca Leaf Producers»,
in Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, vol. 33,
No.1, Spring 1991.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Bolivia Under Pressure: Human Rights Violations
and Coca Eradication, Human Rights Watch Publications, Vol. 8, No. 4,
JOYCE, E. & MALAMUD, C.: Latin America and the Multinational
Drug Trade, Saint Martin’s Press, New York, 1997.
LEE, R.: The White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power,
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick and London, 1989.
LEONS, M.: «Risk and Opportunity in the Coca/Cocaine Economy of the
Bolivian Yungas», in Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 25,
— & SANABRIA, H. (eds.): Coca, Cocaine and the Bolivian
Reality, State University of New York Press, New York,
1997.LUPSHA, P.: «Transnational Narco-Corruption and
Narco-Investment: A Focus on Mexico», in Transnational Organized
Crime, Vol. 1, No.1, Spring 1995.
— «Drug Lords and Narco-Corruption: The Players Change but the Game
Continues», in McCOY, A. & BLOCK, A. (eds.): War on Drugs: Studies
in the Failure of U.S. Narcotics Policy, Westwiew Press, Boulder and
Oxford, 1992.MORALES, E.: Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru,
University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1989.
PAINTER, J.: Bolivia and Coca: A Study in Dependency, Lynne
Rienner Publishers, Boulder, 1994.
POPPA, T.: Drug Lord: The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin,
Pharos Books, New York, 1990.
BAGLEY, B. (ed.): Drug Trafficking Research in the Americas: An
Annotated Bibliography, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, 1996.
BOTERO, C.: Drugs and Latin America: A Bibliography, Vance
Bibliographies, Monticello, 1990.
CROUCH, T.: Clic Papers: An Annotated Bibliography on Military
Involvement in Counterdrug Operations, 1980-1990, Department of the
Army, Department of the Air Force, Army-Air Force Center for Low Intensity
Conflict, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, September 1992, AD-A252 212.
EBENER, P., FELDMAN, E. & FITZGERALD, N.: Federal Databases for
Use in Drug Policy Research: A Catalogue for Data Users, RAND, Santa
McCARL, H. & YANG, C.: Economic Impact of the Underground
Economy: A Bibliography on Money Laundering and Other Aspects of
Off-the-Record Economic Transactions, Vance Bibliographies,
NARCO-ALERT: The War on Drugs: A Research Guide, Washington,
TULLIS, L.: Handbook of Research on the Illicit Drug Traffic:
Socioeconomic and Political Consequences, Greenwood Press, Westport,
HALLINGBY, L.: «The Two Lindesmith Center Libraries on Drug Policy
Reform: The Traditional Library and the Virtual Library», in Behavioral
and Social Science Librarian, Vol. 17, No.1, 1998.
CLAYTON, R.: Marijuana in the ‘Third World’: Appalachia, U.S.A.,
Vol. 5, Studies on the Impact of the Illegal Drug Trade, United Nations
Research Institute for Social Development and the United Nations
University, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder and London, 1995.
GRINSPOON, L.: Marihuana Reconsidered, Quick American Archives,
HARRISON, L., BACKENHEIMER, M. & INCIARDI, J.: Cannabis Use in
the United States: Implications for Policy, Center for Drug and
Alcohol Studies, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, June 1995.
KLEIMAN, M.: Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control,
Greenwood Press, New York, 1989.
SCHLOSSER, E.: «Marijuana and the Law», in The Atlantic Monthly,
Vol. 274, No. 3, September 1994.
— «Reefer Madness», in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 274, No.2,
August 1994.THOMAS, C.: Marijuana Arrests and Incarceration in
the United States: Preliminary Report, The Marijuana Policy Project,
Washington,: November 1998.
WEISHEIT, R.: Domestic Marijuana: A Neglected Industry,
Greenwood Press, New York, 1992.
ZIMMER, L. & MORGAN, J.: Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts, a
Review of the Scientific Evidence, The Lindesmith Center, New York and
San Francisco, 1997.
ECONOMICS OF DRUG TRAFFICKING AND
BECKER, G., GROSSMAN, M. & MURPHY, K.: «A Theory of Rational
Addiction», in Journal of Political Economy, Vol.96, 1989.
CAULKINS, J.: «Is Crack Cheaper Than (Powder) Cocaine?», in
Addiction, Vol. 92, No. 11, 1997.
— «Modeling the Domestic Distribution Network for Illicit Drugs», in
Management Science, Vol. 43, No. 10, 1997.
— «Domestic Geographic Variation in Illicit Drug Prices», in Journal
of Urban Economics, Vol. 37, 1995.
— Developing Price Series for Cocaine, RAND, Santa Monica,
1994.CHILDRESS, M.: A Systems Description of the Heroin
Trade, RAND, Santa Monica, 1994.
— A Systems Description of the Marijuana Trade, RAND, Santa
Monica, 1994.DOMBEY-MOORE, B., RESETAR, S. & CHILDRESS, M.: A
Systems Description of the Cocaine Trade, RAND, Santa Monica, 1994.
EVERINGHAM, S., RYDELL, P. & CAULKINS, J.: «Cocaine Consumption in
the United States: Estimating Past Trends and Future Scenarios», in
Socio-Economic Planning Science, Vol. 29, No. 4, 1996.
EVERINGHAM, S., & RYDELL, P.: Modeling the Demand for
Cocaine, RAND, Santa Monica, 1994.
HAGEDORN, J.: The Business of Drug Dealing in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute report, Vol. 11, No. 5, June 1998.
JARVIK, M.: «The Drug Dilemma: Manipulating the Demand», in
Science, No.250, 1990.
KENNEDY, M., REUTER, P. & RILEY, K.J.: A Simple Economic Model
of Cocaine Production, RAND, National Defense Research Institute,
Santa Monica, 1994.
MacCOUN, R. & REUTER, P.: «Are the Wages of Sin $30 an Hour:
Economic Aspects of Street-level Drug Dealing», in Crime and
Delinquency, Vol. 38, No. 4, 1992.
POZO, S. (ed.): Exploring the Underground Economy, W.E. Upjohn
Institute, Kalamazoo, 1996.
REUTER, P. & HAAGA, J.: The Organization of High-Level Drug
Markets: An Exploratory Study, RAND, Santa Monica, 1989.
REUTER, P., MacCOUN, R. , MURPHY, P. with ABRAHAMSE, A. & SIMON,
B.: Money from Crime: A Study of the Economics of Drug Dealing in
Washington, D.C., RAND, Santa Monica, 1990.
SANER, H., MacCOUN, R. & REUTER, P.: «On the Ubiquity of Drug
Selling Among Youthful Offenders in Washington, D.C., 1985-1991: Age,
Period or Cohort Effect?», in Journal of Quantitative Criminology,
Vol. 11, No. 4, December 1995.
Galbraith, J.: The Affluent Society, 40th Anniversary
Edition, Mariner Books, Boston and New York, 1998 (1958), p. 6.
2. Report after a one-month field study
the United States, April/May, 1999. Paris, July 1999. I wish to express my
gratitude to the taxpayers and the federal government of the United
States, in particular Ambassador Felix Rohatyn and the United States
Information Agency (USIA) – Caroline Gorse-Combalat, Maureen Cormack and
Michèle Plawner of the US Embassy in Paris, and Carol Grabauskas of USIA
in Washington – for inviting me to take part in the International Visitor
Program. My gratitude also goes to Meridian International Center in
Washington, DC, especially Melissa Phillips and Kandel Coorman for the
excellent organisation and management of my program, and their hard work
beyond the call of duty. Thanks should also be extended to Ahmed Scego, my
escort officer. All the people whom I met during the trip deserve special
thanks, but they are too numerous to be mentioned by name. Their patience,
kindness and openness with comments and literature made tangible the
diversity of the United States and testified to its democratic culture. I
hope I have not wasted their time; they can be assured that they have not
wasted mine. Last, but not least, I am grateful to the MOST Programme of
UNESCO, particularly the project «Economic and Social Transformations
connected with the International Drug Problem», implemented in
collaboration with UNDCP.
3. Ibid., p. 15.
4. Conventional wisdom about drugs is
extremely pervasive; it may even contaminate scholarly work. For instance,
Paul Johnson’s highly regarded A History of the American People
(HarperPerennial, New York, 1999), a major historical study of more than
1000 pages, mentions «drugs» only once while discussing social mobility in
the United States: «And all the time pop music was crowding in to envelop
the various styles and traditions in the phantasmagoria of commercial
music geared to the taste of countless millions of easily manipulated but
increasingly affluent young people. And, from the world of jazz and pop,
the drug habit spread to the masses as the most accelerated form of
downward mobility of all» (my emphasis). Although it cannot be denied
that pop and jazz have provided, and continue to provide the musical
environment for much drug taking in America (and elsewhere), and they may
induce drug use by some young Americans, Johnson’s statement is, to say
the least, reductive. In a broad and morally-loaded generalisation of the
links between drugs and modern musical forms associated with youth and
Black Americans (both of which are widely perceived as «dangerous» groups
by the rest of society, according to American sociologists), Johnson, a
British historian, reproduces the conventional wisdom that all drug use is
habit-forming and inevitably leads down the social scale, despite
considerable scientific evidence to the contrary. Neither does Johnson
seem to be familiar with the abundant literature on drugs in America
produced by British and American historians (see Bibliography).
5. On this, see among many others:
Brecher, E. (ed.): Licit and Illicit Drugs, Little & Brown,
Boston, 1972, pp.90-100; Wisotsky, S.: Beyond the War on Drugs:
Overcoming of a Failed Public Policy, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, 1990,
pp. 32-36; and Kleiman, M.: Against Excess: Drug Policy for
Results, Basic Books, New York, 1992, pp. 104-126.
6. Mill also opposed the use of law to
keep individuals from doing harms to themselves, and it is probable that
he would oppose present-day U.S. drug policy. Marc Moore quotes the
following passage from Mill’s On Liberty (1859): «The only purpose
for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized
community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good,
either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.», in Moore, M.:
«Drugs, the Criminal Law and the Administration of Justice», in Bayer, R.
& Oppenheimer, G.: Confronting Drug Policy: Illicit Drugs in a Free
Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1993, p.
7. See Carlos Sanchez Milani’s
introduction to the Proceedings of the II Annual Conference, Rio de
Janeiro, 19-22 October 1998, of the UNESCO/MOST/UNDCP Project on
Economic and Social Transformations connected with the International Drug
Problem, mimeo, Paris, 1999, p.1.
8. UNDCP: Management of Social
Transformations: Building in a Drug Component, AD/GLO/98/D17, p.
9. This paper is about social
science research only; it does not cover the huge American literature
from other fields such as pharmacology, chemistry, epidemiology, etc.
Therefore, in this paper the word «research» means «social science
research on drug trafficking and drug policy».
10. See Levine, H.: «The Discovery of
Addiction: Changing Conceptions of Habitual Drunkenness in America», in
Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Vol. 38, No. 1, January 1978. On
opiates use in the 19th century, see Courtwright, D.: Dark
Paradise: Opiate Addiction in America Before 1940, Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, 1982, pp. 35-42.
11. Levine, op.cit., pp.
151-161. See also, e.g. Blocker, J.: American Temperance Movements,
Twayne, Boston, 1989; and Gusfield, J.: Symbolic Crusade: Status
Politics and the American Temperance Movement, University of Illinois
Press, Urbana, 1963; Becker, H.: Outsiders, Éditions Métailié,
Paris 1985 (The Free Press of Glencoe, New York, 1963), Chapter 8 on moral
12. See e.g. McWilliams, J.: The
Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,
1930-1962, University of Delaware Press, Newark, 1990; McWilliams, J.:
«Through the Past Darkly: The Politics and Policies of America’s Drug
War», in Journal of Policy History, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1991; Kinder, D.
& Walker, W.: «Stable Force in a Storm: Harry J. Anslinger and United
States Narcotic Policy, 1930-1962», in Journal of American History,
Vol. 72, No. 4, March 1986.
13. See Kinder, D.: «Shutting Out the
Evil: Nativism and Narcotics Control in the United States», in Journal
of Policy History, Vol. 3, No.4, 1991; and Musto, D.: The American
Disease, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, especially pp.
14. Bertram et al.: Drug War
politics, The Price of Denial, University of California Press,
Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996, pp. 61-65, quote from p.63.
15. Ibid, p. 65.
16. The 18th Amendment was
abrogated by the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. On the
usefulness of the bootlegging infrastructure for drug traffickers, see
OGD: Atlas mondial des Drogues, Presses Universitaires de France,
Paris 1996, p. 60.
17. Writing in the 1960s, Thomas
Schelling framed the legalisation debate in the following way: «the
question is whether the goal of somewhat reducing the consumption of
narcotics (…) or anything else that is forced by law into the black
market, is or is not outweighed by the costs to society of creating a
criminal industry», in Schelling, T.: «Economic Analysis of Organized
Crime», in U.S. President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the
Administration of Justice: Task Force Report: Organized Crime,
Government Printing Office, Washington, 1967.
18. See Bibliography, section on «The
Drug Policy Debate».
19. Szasz, T.: Ceremonial
Chemistry: The ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers,
Anchor Press, Garden City, 1974; Our Right to Drugs: The case
for a free market, Praeger, New York, 1992; Nadelmann, E.: «Drug
Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences and Alternatives»,
in Science, September 1, 1989; and «Thinking Seriously About
Alternatives to Drug Prohibition», in Daedalus, Vol. 121, No. 3,
20. MOST network members may be
interested to know that the New York library of the Lindesmith Center (a
branch of the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros) is
extremely well-furnished in books and articles on various aspects of drug
trafficking and drug policy in the United States and beyond. Those
interested in following the legalisation debate in the United States from
a «legalisationist’s» viewpoint can check the Lindesmith Center internet
homepage at http://www.lindesmith.org/, where several
bibliographies are available; see Hallingby, L.: «The Two Lindesmith
Center Libraries on Drug Policy Reform: The Traditional Library and the
Virtual Library», in Behavioral and Social Science Librarian, Vol.
17, No.1, 1998.
21. Inciardi, J. & McBride, D.:
«Legalization: A High-Risk Alternative in the War on Drugs», in
American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 32, 1989.
22. DEA: Speaking Out Against Drug
DEA also has a library, but would-be users have to obtain clearance before
using it. Reports and testimonies on drug trafficking are available on the
internet homepage of DEA (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/).
23. DEA: Say it Straight: The
Medical Myths of Marijuana (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/sayit/myths.htm#political)
24. Zimmer, L. & Morgan, J.:
Marijuana Myths/Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific
Evidence, The Lindesmith Center, New York and San Francisco,
25. See Bibliography, section on
26. Office of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP): The National Drug Control Strategy, 1998: A Ten Year
Plan, 1998-2007, Executive Office of the President, Washington, 1998,
27. Lindesmith, A.: «Traffic in Dope:
Medical problem», in The Nation Magazine, 21 April 1956;
«Dope: Congress Encourages the Traffic», in ibid. 16 March
1957; Opiate Addiction, Principia Press, Bloomington, 1947; and
The Addict and the Law, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1965.
Anslinger, H. & Tompkins, J.: The Traffic in Narcotics, Arno
Press, New York 1980 (1953); Anslinger, H.: The Murderers, Farrar
& Strauss, New York 1961; The Protectors, Farrar & Strauss,
New York, 1964.
28. See e.g. MacCoun, R., Kahan, J.,
Gillespie, J. & Rhee, J.: «A Content Analysis of the Drug Legalization
Debate», in Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1993; MacCoun,
R.: «Drugs and the Law: A Psychological Analysis of Drug Prohibition», in
Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 113, No. 3, 1993; non Rand examples
include Kleiman, M.: «Neither Prohibition nor Legalization», in
Daedalus, Vol. 121, No. 3, 1992; and Evans, R. & Berent, M.:
Drug Legalization: For and Against, Open Court, La Salle,
29. See, e.g. MacCoun, R. &
Schelling, T.: «Assessing Alternative Drug Control Regimes», in Journal
of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 15, No. 3, June 1996; MacCoun,
R. & Reuter, P.: «Interpreting Dutch Cannabis Policy: Reasoning by
Analogy in the Legalization Debate», in Science, Vol. 278, 3
October 1997; and Rydell, P., Caulkins, J. & Everingham, S.:
«Enforcement or Treatment: Modeling the Relative Efficacy of Alternatives
for Controlling Cocaine», in Operations Research, Vol. 44, No. 5,
30. Reuter, P.: «Why Can’t We Make
Prohibition Work Better? Some Consequence of Ignoring the Unattractive»,
in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 141, No.
3, September 1997, p. 263. See also Caulkins, J. Rydell, P. Everingham,
S., Chiesa, J. & Bushway, S.: An Ounce of Prevention, a Pound of
Uncertainty: The Cost-Effectiveness of School-Based Drug Prevention
Programs, RAND, Santa Monica, 1999.
31. Reuter, op. cit., p. 263.
32. Bertram et al.: Drug War
Politics, op. cit., p. 64.
33. Musto, D.: The American
Disease, op. cit.; Kinder, D.: «Shutting Out the Evil», op. cit.;
McWilliams, J.: «Through the Past Darkly», op. cit.
34. Bruun, K., Pan, L. & Rexed, I.
: The Gentlemen's Club: International Control of Drugs and
Alcohol, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1975, p.
35. Bertram et al., op. cit., pp.
36. ONDCP: The National Drug
Control Strategy, 1998, op. cit., p. 17.
38. Ibid. Of course, here
«crime» means unlawful acts – such as robbery, murder, rape, domestic
violence, etc. – other than drug production, trafficking and use, which
are crimes in and of themselves due to prohibition.
39. Mauer, M.: Americans Behind
Bars: A comparison of International Rates of Incarceration, The
Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., 1991; Americans Behind Bars:
U.S. and International Use of Incarceration, 1995, The
Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., 1997.
40. Schlosser, E.: «The
Prison-Industrial Complex», in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 282,
No.6, December 1998; Christie, N.: Crime Control as Industry,
Routledge, London and New York, 1996 (1993). Schlosser defines the
prison-industrial complex as: «a set of bureaucratic, political and
economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment,
regardless of the actual need.»
41. See the campaign launched by
Amnesty International against various abuses, including sexual assault,
homicide and torture by U.S. police and prison authorities on http://www.amnesty.org/.
42. The theoretical basis of the
so-called ‘zero-tolerance’ policy implemented in New York is the ‘broken
windows’ theory developed in the early 1980s by criminologists James Q.
Wilson and George F. Kelling. Emphasizing the need for
‘community-oriented’ police work, which is a preventive strategy aimed at
maintaining order by acting preemptively on the environment to discourage
crimes before they happen (rather than trying to solve criminal cases
after crimes have happened), Wilson and Kelling have argued that if a
broken window is left unfixed in an area, this area will soon witness
further degradations leading to an atmosphere that will attract crime. The
police should concentrate more time on seemingly ‘little things’ such as
fixing a broken window, because they go a long way to make neighborhoods
unattractive to criminals. See Wilson, J. and Kelling, G.: ‘Broken
Windows: the police and neighborhood safety’, in The Atlantic Monthly,
March 1982; Wilson, J.: ‘Thinking about crime: the debate over
deterrence’ in ibid., September 1983; and Wilson, J. and Kelling,
G.: ‘Making Neighborhoods Safe’, in ibid., February 1989.
43. Human Rights Watch: Cruel and
Usual: Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug Offenders, Human
Rights Watch Report, Vol.9, No.2(B), Human Rights Violations in the United
States, New York, March 1997, p. 9, quoting Carmona v. Ward, 576 F.
2d, 405 423 (éd Cir. 1978) cert denied, 439 U.S. 1091
44. Ibid., p. 3.
45. Caulkins, J., Rydell, P., Schwabe,
W. & Chiesa, J.: Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences: Throwing Away
the Key or the Taxpayers’ Money?, RAND, Santa Monica, 1997.
46. Dilulio, J.: «Against Mandatory
Minimums: The Disaster of Drug-Sentencing Laws», in National
Review, May 17, 1999, p. 48. A «drug-only offender» is a person
convicted of a breach of drug laws and no other crime.
47. Human Rights Watch: Cruel and
Usual, op. cit. p. 2.
48. Greenwood, P.: Three Strikes
and You're Out: Estimated Costs and Benefits of California's New
Mandatory-Sentencing Law, RAND, Santa Monica, 1994.
49. Duster, T.: «Pattern, Purpose, and
Race in the Drug War: The Crisis of Credibility in Criminal Justice», in
Reinarman & Levine: Crack in America, op. cit., p. 262.
50. DiMascio, W.: Seeking Justice:
Crime and Punishment in America, The Edna McConnel Clark Foundation,
New York, 1997, p. 13.
51. Ibid., p. 13.
52. Mauer, M.: Young Black
Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later, The
Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., 1995.
53. Dilulio, J.: «Against Mandatory
Minimums», op. cit., p. 50.
54. See, for instance, Huling, T.:
Injustice Will Be Done: Women Drug Couriers and the Rockefeller Drug
Laws, Correctional Association of New York, New York, 1992; Schiraldy,
V., Kuyper, S. & Hewitt, S.: Young African Americans and the
Criminal Justice System in California: Five Years Later, Center on
Juvenile and Criminal Justice, San Francisco, Washington & Baltimore,
February 1996; Roberts, D.: «Punishing Drug Addicts Who Have Babies: Women
of Color, Equality, and the Right of Privacy», in Havard Law Review,
Vol.104, 1991; Szalavitz, M.: «War on Drugs, War on Women», in On The
Issue Magazine, winter 1998.
55. Reuter, P.: «Hawks Ascendant: The
Punitive Trend of American Drug Policy», in Daedalus, Vol. 121,
No.3, Summer 1992.
56. Turner v. United States,
396 U.S. 398, 426, 1969, quoted in Wisotsky, S.: «’Images of Death and
Destruction in Drug Law Cases», in Trebach, A. & Zeese, K. (eds.):
The Great Issues of Drug Policy, The Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C., 1990, p. 52.
57. However, a volume edited by
Michael Tonry and James Wilson, «Drugs and Crime», must be mentioned here.
It seems to be quite an important compilation of research results on the
issue since the papers published in it have been quoted as reference in
much recent literature: Wilson, J. & Tonry, M. (eds.): Drugs and
Crime (Crime and Justice, Vol 13), University of Chicago Press,
58. On the role of television in the
Reagan «war on drugs», see the excellent Media Studies research: Reeves,
J. & Campbell, R.: Cracked Coverage. Television News, the
Anti-Cocaine Crusade, and the Reagan Legacy, Duke University Press,
Durham and London, 1994.
59. Reinarman, C. & Levine, H.:
«The Crack Attack: Politics and Media in the Crack Scare», in Reinarman,
C. & Levine, H. (eds.): Crack in America, Demon Drugs and Social
Justice, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and
London, 1997, pp. 22-23. The authors note that the press later discovered
that, in fact, the crack bag in President Bush’s hand had not been
«seized» but bought for $2,400 from an African-American teenager by
undercover DEA agents. Moreover, the agents had to work hard at enticing
the teenager to carry out the sale in the park mentioned by the president,
and they did not arrest him...
60. Goldstein, P., Brownstein, H.,
Ryan, P. & Bellucci, P.: «Crack and Homicide in New York City: A Case
Study in the Epidemiology of Violence», in Reinarman, C. & Levine, H.
(eds.): Crack in America, op. cit., esp. pp. 115-122 and Table
61. ADAM collects data in county jails
only, meaning that no data is collected in state, federal and city
jurisdictions; see the latest annual report: National Institute of
Justice: 1998 Annual Report on Drug Use Among Adult and Juvenile
Arrestees, Research Report, Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program
(ADAM), Department of Justice, Washington, April 1999.
62. Although NIJ says that I-ADAM is
still at the starting phase, it has already produced one comparative
study: Taylor, B. & Bennett, T.: Comparing Drug Use Rates of
Detained Arrestees in the United States and England, NIJ Report,
Department of Justice, Washington, April 1999.
63. See Zimring, F. & Hawkins, G.:
The Search for Rational Drug Control, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, New York and Melbourne, 1995, p. 138.
64. Ibid., p. 137.
65. Ibid., p. 140.
66. This is the definition given in
Reinarman, C. & Levine, H.: «Crack in Context: America’s Latest Demon
Drug», in Reinarman, C. & Levine, H. (eds.): Crack in America,
op. cit., p. 9.
67. Zinberg, N.: Drug, Set, and
Setting: The Basis for Controlled Intoxicant Use, Yale University
Press, New Haven, 1984.
68. Ibid., p. x, quoted in
Reinarman & Levine «Crack in Context», op. cit. p. 9.
69. Lindesmith, A.: Opiate
Addiction, op. cit., quoted in ibid.
70. Becker, H.: Outsiders, op.
cit., chapter 3.
71. The term is by John Morgan,
interviewed in New York on May 5, 1999.
72. Reinarman & Levine: Crack
in Context, op. cit., p. 8.
73. See the review of Paul
Gootenberg’s Cocaine: Global Histories, below.
74. Clayton, R.: Marijuana in the
‘Third World’: Appalachia, U.S.A., Vol. 5, Studies on the Impact of
the Illegal Drug Trade, United Nations Research Institute for Social
Development and the United Nations University, Lynne Rienner Publishers,
Boulder and London, 1995.
75. Ibid., p. 61.
76. Hagedorn, J.: The Business of
Drug Dealing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute report,
Vol. 11, No. 5, June 1998, p. 1.
77. Bourgois, P.: In Search of
Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, New York and Melbourne, 1995; a shorter version of the study as
been published in Contemporary Drug Problems, Vol. 16, 1989, but
this paper’s review of Bourgois’ work is based on yet another version
titled «In Search of Horatio Alger: Culture and Ideology in the Crack
Economy», in Reinarman & Levine (eds.): Crack in America, op.
cit. Other important contributors to the ethnographic school of American
drug research (of which Howard Becker is the best-know representative)
include Waldorf, D., Reinarman, C. & Murphy, S.: Cocaine Changes:
The Experience of Using and Quitting, Temple University Press,
78. Ibid., p. 66.
79. Ibid., p. 72.
80. Ibid., p. 68.
81. Ibid., p. 63.
82. Ibid., p. 63.
83. See Laniel, L.: «Drugs and
Globalization: An Equivocal Relationship», in International Social
Science Journal, No. 160, June 1999.
84. Buell, R. : «The Opium
Conferences», in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 3, July 1925.
85. See, e.g., Bagley, B.: «The New
Hundred Years War? U.S. National Security and the War on Drugs in Latin
America», in Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs,
Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 1988; «Colombia: The Wrong Strategy», in Foreign
Policy, No.77, Winter 1989-1990; «After San Antonio», in Journal of
Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 34, No.3, Fall 1992;
Bagley, B. & Walker, W. (eds.): Drug Trafficking in the
Americas, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, 1994.
86. For instance, Falco, M. : «Foreign
Drugs, Foreign Wars», in Daedalus, Vol. 121, No. 3, Summer 1992;
Lee, R. : The White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power,
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick and London, 1989; Reuter, P. :
The Limits and Consequences of U.S. Foreign Drug Control Efforts,
RAND/RP-135, Santa Monica, 1992; Smith, P. (ed.): Drug Policy in the
Americas, Westview Press, Boulder, 1992; Perl, R.: «The US Congress,
International Drug Policy, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988», in
Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 30, Nos. 2
& 3, Summer/Fall 1988; etc.; see Bibliography, section on the
87. Craig, R. : «La Campaña
permanente, Mexico’s Anti-Drug Campaign», in Journal of Interamerican
Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 20, No. 2, May 1978; «Operation
Condor: Mexico’s Anti-Drug Campaign Enters a New Era», in The Journal
of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 22, No. 3, August
1980; Walker, W.: «The United States, Mexico and Narcotics Policy,
1930-1940», in Pacific Historical Review, No. 47, 1978.
88. For instance, Drexler, R.:
Colombia and the United States: Narcotics Traffic and a Failed Foreign
Policy, McFarland, Jefferson, 1997; Andreas, P. & Sharpe, K.:
«Cocaine Politics in the Andes», in Current History, Vol. 91,
No.562, February 1992; Mabry, D.: «Andean Drug Trafficking and the
Military Option», in Military Review, vol. LXXI, No.3, March 1990
Youngers, C. : The Andean Quagmire: Rethinking U.S. Drug Control
Efforts in the Andes, WOLA Briefing Series: Issues in International
Drug Policy, Washington, D.C., March 1996; see Bibliography, section on
89. For instance, Andreas, P. :
«U.S.-Mexico: Open Markets, Closed Borders», in Foreign Policy, No.
103, Summer 1996; Doyle, K. : «Drug War: A Quietly Escalating Failure», in
NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXVI, No. 5, May 1993 ; Olson,
E. : The Evolving Role of Mexico’s Military in Public Security and
Antinarcotics Programs, WOLA Briefing Series: Issues in International
Drug Policy, Washington, D.C., May 1996 ; González, G. & Tienda, M.
(eds.): The Drug Connection in U.S.-Mexican Relations, University
of California, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, La Jolla, 1989; see
Bibliography, section on «Mexico».
90. For instance, Craig, R.: «Human
Rights and Mexico’s Anti-Drug Campaign», in Social Science
Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 4, March 1980.
91. For instance, WOLA: The
Colombian National Police, Human Rights, and U.S. Drug Policy,
Washington Office on Latin America, Washington, May 1993; Peru Under
Scrutiny: Human Rights and U.S. Drug Policy, Briefing #5, Washington
Office on Latin America, Washington, January 1992.
92. For instance, Méndez, J.: The
«Drug war» in Colombia: The Neglected Tragedy of Political Violence,
An Americas Watch report, Human Rights Watch, New York, 1990.
93. McCoy, A.: The Politics of
Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Lawrence Hill Books,
New York, 1991; McCoy, A. & Block, A. (eds.): War on Drugs: Studies
in the Failure of U.S. Narcotics Policy, Westwiew Press, Boulder and
Oxford, 1992; Scott, P.D. & Marshall, J. : Cocaine Politics, Drugs,
Armies and the CIA in Central America, University of California Press,
Berkeley and Oxford, 1991.
94. Bailey, J. & Godson, R.:
Organized Crime & Democratic Governability in Mexico & the
U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, in press, 1999.
95. There are important, although not
widely publicised, exceptions to this general rule, see for instance
Brewton, P.: The Mafia, CIA & George Bush, SPI Books, New York
1992 for a well-documented, careful, journalistic study; for equally well
documented and careful scholarly work, see Block, A.: Masters of
Paradise. Organized Crime and the Internal Revenue Service in the
Bahamas, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, 1997 (1991); and
Block, A. (ed.): The Business of Crime: A Documentary Study of
Organized Crime in the American Economy, Westview Press, Boulder,
96. John Bailey kindly granted me
permission to comment on a draft of his and Roy Godson’s
97. Gootenberg, P. (ed.): Cocaine:
Global Histories, Routledge, London and New York, 1999.
98. All quotations are from a draft of
Paul Gootenberg’s introduction to the volume, which he kindly permitted me
to comment on in this report.
99. Astorga, L.: Mitología del
«narcotraficante» en México, Plaza y Valdés, Mexico City, 1995; El
siglo de las drogas, Espasa Hoy, Mexico City, 1996; Drug
Trafficking in Mexico: A First General Assessment, MOST discussion
Paper No. 36
100. For a more detailed discussion
of this problem, see «Más allá del bien y del mal», chapter 1 in Astorga:
Mitología, op. cit., pp. 15-22.
101. Incidentally, Gootenberg touches
here on a problem that was raised during the MOST conference in Rio.
Network members might recall a debate between Guillem Fabre and the
present writer on that occasion: while Guillem argued that drugs should be
studied as are any other (legal or illegal) commodities, I argued that
drugs were unlike any other substances due to their historical links to
religion and war (see Proceedings of the II Annual Conference, p.
6). Gootenberg solves the problem by stating that the interest of drugs
is, precisely, that their study requires both the «normalized»
economic approach called for by Guillem, and the «special» social approach
About the authorLaurent Laniel, researcher at
the Observatoire Géopolitique des Drogues (OGD, Paris), 14 Passage Dubail,
75010 Paris (France), works mainly on socio-economic implications of
illicit drug production, consumption and trafficking and drug control
policies. His main geographical areas of interest are Subsaharan-Africa
and the Americas. His last publications include «Drugs and Globalisation:
An Equivocal Relationship», in International Social Science Journal, No.
160, June 1999; and «Marché local de la consommation et développement des
cultures de cannabis au Ghana», in OGD/MOST : Les drogues en Afrique
subsaharienne, Karthala, Paris, 1998.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.
The frontiers and boundaries on maps published in this series do not
imply official endorsement or acceptance by UNESCO or the United