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War on Drugs - Background. Drug Wars both cause and encompass all forms of deviance: street crime, addicts, prostitutes to organized crime, political and organizational corruption, government assassination plots and corporate profiteering.

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war on drugs background
War on Drugs - Background
  • Drug Wars both cause and encompass all forms of deviance: street crime, addicts, prostitutes to organized crime, political and organizational corruption, government assassination plots and corporate profiteering.
  • Drug Wars designers take advantage of racism and xenophobia, frame them in Christian morality, and employ them for personal and political profit.
  • Drug laws can turn a law-abiding person into a criminal with the stroke of a pen.
  • The Drug War is the direct cause of the quadrupling of the US prison population and has led to a mass imprisonment society.
  • What Drug Wars rarely do is prevent or reduce drug addiction or use.
war on drugs
War on Drugs
  • Punishment for non-prescribed drug use is not correlated with health risk.
    • Consider alcohol: causes numerous health and social problems but it was seen that Prohibition was a disaster (although extreme consumption was reduced as a result, although a powerful education program might have been also effective). Also now legal but controlled, although there are some ‘dry’ counties. It is not illegal to be an alcoholic, although it can have serious consequences.
    • Consider tobacco: about 400,000/yr die in the US from diseases caused or exacerbated by tobacco. It is not illegal but it is controlled. Why do people smoke? What would happen if it were suddenly made illegal?
    • Consider marijuana: no fatalities or illness-related deaths. May aggravate (or relieve) depression, reduce motivation and drive. Appears to cause a higher risk of throat/esophageal cancer.
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War on Drugs
  • Substances for altering one’s state of consciousness are found in all cultures.
    • Even in the animal kingdom.
    • Even children.
    • These substances include natural substances such as: tobacco, chocolate, coffee, marijuana, coca, opium, certain kinds of mushrooms, peyote, and many others found in local ecologies.
    • Don’t forget alcohol.
  • Development of more powerful and sophisticated substances flow from military need as well as pharmacological research.
  • Hypothesis: drug use can become a drug problem when substance ‘migrates’ to a new culture with no cultural role.
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War on Drugs

Our goal: To explain the existence, process and outcomes of Drug Wars, both in the US and internationally.

  • We’ll use primarily differential association (learning theory), functionalism (extant and latent), social control and conflict theory (symbolic crusades), and social psychology.
  • In addition, we’ll explore the impact of the development of the medical profession, government regulatory agencies (FDA), migration impacts, labor conditions and the economy, political power struggles. and US Foreign policy.
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War on Drugs

Basic premises:

  • One purposes of identifying a ‘social problem’ is to deflect criticism/attention away from structural problems in the distribution of economic and political power.
  • US society constructed a drug use mentality for both legal and illegal substances.
  • Value contested: “what’s wrong with getting high?” versus “getting high is immoral”.
  • “All use is abuse” versus “recreational use can be responsible.”
  • Drug war laws came into being to serve political and career purposes, then became part of the “way it’s done” even in the face of expert opinion and empirical evidence to the contrary.
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War on Drugs

Migration and Drug Wars

  • Drug problems are associated with problematic populations that ‘need’ to be controlled: immigrants, blacks, Mexicans, other Spanish-speaking cultures, Chinese.
  • Drug wars are implemented when there are no other ‘enemies’ (end of wars, times of economic stability, but also useful in times of economic destabilization, too).
  • Migration directly causes a mixing (and hence, confrontation) of cultures, class structure, etc.
  • Migration also supplies labor, may depress wages and displace native workers, or at least, be perceived as such, and therefore a desire to lash out at immigrants becomes more popular.
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War on Drugs

Social psychology of drug use.

  • Compare prescribed and over-the-counter messages to illicit substance message.
    • If you don’t feel good, or optimal, take a pill.
    • So illicit use is, as we’ve seen elsewhere in differential association and also in anomie, utilizing society’s techniques but not in dominant normative fashion.
    • Reinforced continuously by advertising.
  • Messages about what illegal substances do, about users of illegal substances then inform users about their roles.
    • Actual and perceived drug effects – from experience, lore, friends, books, tv, movies…
    • Culture (learned from above)
    • Drug War proponents often circulate false messages as scare tactics.
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War on Drugs

Labor, the Economy and Political Landscape

  • With 80s, as the nature of the economy changed (loss of manufacturing, flow to service) and jobs left cities, working class families were left economically stranded. With the arrival of the Reagan administration, there was a need to deflect attention away from the massive redistribution of wealth undertaken in the Reagan era, the erosion of public services, and the official message of ‘states rights’ which really meant ‘loss of federal revenue for states’.
  • The results were:
    • Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, the rise of D.A.R.E and other anti-drug programs which are actually associated with an increase in drug use.
    • The emphasis on the deserving achieving people versus the undeserving poor parasites.
    • Renewed vilification of the Black urban communities.
    • Dramatic increase in federal, state and local resources for policing and imprisoning of drug users.
    • The beginning of the mass imprisonment era
domestic wod
Domestic WOD

How Policy Could be Handled

  • Clear, accurate information about the substance’s effects – both positive and negative.
  • Understanding of motivations to take mind-altering substances: set and setting; self-destructive reasons versus self-explorative; ritual; social settings.
  • Internal and external social control focused on public health.
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Domestic WOD
  • Drug Law Addiction
    • Both drugs and drug laws make people feel good
    • Both drugs and drug laws can be abused.
    • Both drugs and drug laws have externalities (side effects)
  • Policy History
    • Drug use and abuse was not really recognized as a social issue until after the Civil War
    • Morphine
    • Cocaine
    • But to understand domestic drug policy, you need to incorporate some aspects of international policy.
    • Opium on two fronts: US (post-civil war experience) and British-Chinese-US trade in the Far East and Southeast Pacific. The US saw British-run and Chinese crime-supported opium traffic as an obstacle to commercial and military ties in the Far East and pushes the first international policy against drug use and trafficking. The State Policy attitude becomes part of domestic policy, too.
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Domestic WOD

Beginning of US Policy:

  • Pure Food and Drug Act, 1906 – correct labeling of patent medicines.
  • Foster Bill: to restrict non-medical use of opium, cocaine, marijuana and chloral hydrate (depressant), engineered by Dr. Wright, whose anti-black and anti-Chinese attitudes resonated to the recently southern democrat congress.
  • Drug Use became associated with ‘unamerican and unpatriotic’ behavior.
  • Foster Bill became the Harrison Act, signed into law in 1915, whose purpose was to establish government regulation of substances.
  • The attitudes behind these acts also motivated the Prohibition, which was ratified in 1919, became law in 1920, repealed in 1933.
  • Colonel Levi Nutt created precedent for prosecuting addicts and imprisoning them, despite protests from physicians and other groups. But then Nutt was ousted due to improprieties.
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Domestic WOD

The Harry Anslinger Effect: Became commissioner of FBN (federal bureau of narcotics). A bureaucrat, cultivated political connections, drew support from pharmaceutical lobby, utilized conservative newspapers.

    • When threatened with efforts to reorganize (and end his position) he sought out reasons to keep his post in existence.
    • Popularized MJ as associated with blacks in New Orleans, and Mexicans in the southwest, racializing it.
    • Made erroneous claims about effects
    • Added the danger of the nation’s children
    • Inflated statistics, or made them up, about its ubiquity.
    • Aided by the sensationalist Hearst papers, he became aware of the need for an anti-marijuana statue..
    • Made leaps of logic regarding causal effects
    • Ridiculed experts pointing out that none of these claims were true.
  • And so, Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 came into being, and so did a new class of criminals.
  • In 1950s, Anslinger then associated drug use with communism, and the link of MJ to harder drugs.
  • Thus, get tougher on drug users: Boggs Act.
  • When that was protested by professional organizations, the Daniel Commission then recommended more control (i.e., punishment instead of treatment), hence the Narcotic Control Act of 1956.
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Domestic WOD

The Nixon Years: Connected drug use with anti-government (read: anti-war and anti-Nixon) behavior.

  • Justified breaking of law for surveillance and other purposes.
  • Militarized war on drugs more so than previously. See pg 23 of Walker.
  • Carter: wanted to decriminalize.
  • Reagan just said no to criminalization, and signed a series of increasingly severe laws against users and sellers.
  • Also, co-opted opposition so that no one could be politically safe and be opposed to drug laws.
  • Greatly emphasized control over education: Omnibus Antidrug Act of 1986. ‘zero-tolerance’ policies.
  • By politicizing drug users again, he was able to stigmatize (discredit) political opposition.

Bush I years continued the drug war, expanding it, imprisoning more and more,

  • Drug Czar Bennett continued use of misleading facts and falsehoods of drug use and users for his own political purposes.

During Clinton years, imprisonment continued, with some saying it is credited with the lower unemployment rates, but those were also boom years. Names Army General Barry McCaffrey as drug czar. Pardons a number of non-violent drug users in prison.

Bush II: more of the same.

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Domestic WOD

LSD as an example

  • Developed by Sandoz initially as a military tool, and then with ideas for a new area of psychotherapeutic drugs by Albert Hoffman.
  • Military wanted it as a weapon or alternately, truth serum.
  • Medical establishment saw substances as medicine.
  • CIA: elite deviance (anomie) in justifying any behavior (cold war mentality). Differential association of cloak&dagger methodology applied to this context.

Enter the ‘psychedelic pioneers’ – therapeutic value and spiritual exploration

  • Never saw bummers initially
  • Needed new language since pathology couldn’t carry the concepts
  • Non-drug factors play an important role in LSD’s effect. ‘set and setting’
  • Used very successfully in treatment of a number of emotional conditions.
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Domestic WOD

Conflicts:

  • Different intentions behind use of drug between military/medical and pioneers.
  • Different schools of thought (paradigm shift) regarding outcomes.
  • Medical model couldn’t handle this treatment, fell outside its framework of understanding.
  • FDA couldn’t properly regulate its use.
  • Fell on heels of 1950s conformism, cold war mentalities
  • It couldn’t be used by corporate America, although to some extent they tried.
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Domestic WOD

Drug-testing entrepreneurs

  • Robert DuPont Jr – headed NIDA somewhat sporadically from 1971 to 1978 but through the Reagan administration was able to make his EMIT test flourish.
  • Robert Willette – former NIDA, head of Clinical Research. Claimed 100% accuracy, left to run diagnostics lab.
  • Peter Bensinger: former DEA director. Left to form Partnership for a Drug-Free America. And to counsel corporations on drug-testing.
  • Robert Angarola: former counsel to ODAP left to serve as counsel to corporations regarding drug-testing lawsuits from disgruntled employees
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Domestic WOD

Drug-testing (in-)Accuracy

  • The earlier drug-testing methodologies were notoriously inaccurate. A poppy seed bagel would trigger a positive test for opium.
  • Alcoholism was much harder to catch.
  • Whereas testing for substances had been either a tool for medicine, it became a tool for catching – and firing – employees.
  • Could be misused (and sometimes was) for other detections (e.g., pregnancy, prescribed medications that would trigger health insurers’ concerns for high-risk customers).
  • Marketed as being good for employees well-being for treatment facilitation.
  • Steal This Urine Test – by Abbie Hoffman: ‘bladder cops’
  • Drug testing is used widely for anyone in transportation, as well as those in companies with military contracts, and of course, athletes.
  • No clearly established connection between productivity and recreational drug use.
  • Consequences: loss of pay, termination, stigmatization, loss of benefits including pension and insurance, denial of disability insurance, emotional distress, possible criminal charges.