US Drug Policy

A New Approach


Seminar Paper, 2010
18 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Criteria for Guiding Public Policy in the Area of Psychoactive Substances

3. The US ‘War on Drugs’
3.1 Evaluation of the US Drug Policy
3.2 Lack of Progress and Failure of the US Drug Policy

4. Analysis of a Public Policy on Drugs
4.1 Cost Increase for Alcohol Consumption and Crimes under the Involvement of Alcohol
4.2 Decriminalization of Marijuana on the State Level
4.3 Professional Programs in Schools to Raise Risk Awareness
4.4 Extension of Psychological Services for Students in Educational Institutions

5. Supportive International Policies

6. Evidence for Assessing the Progress of a Public Policy on Drugs

7. Conclusion & Outlook

8. Bibliography

1. ntroduction

- The US likes to fight ‘wars’ when it faces huge challenges: Lyndon B. Johnson fought the ‘war on poverty,’ George W. Bush started the ‘war on terrorism,’ and Richard M. Nixon first talked about the ‘war on drugs.’ One can discuss if these wars failed; however, none of these battles can be framed as a total success. It can be assumed that these long-term overarching wars were better fought on a lower level with less ambitious but more practicable goals.
- With regard to the US prohibitionist policy on certain psychoactive substances, I will evaluate the US ‘war on drugs.’ Before taking a closer look at the data, I will outline the criteria which should be used to guide public policy in the area of psychoactive substances. The scrutiny of the statistics of the drug phenomenon in the US will then lead to my analysis of possible policy solutions for those fields where the ‘war on drugs’ has not been successful. The standpoints and arguments of different interest groups in the public policy field will be discussed, and strategies for coalition building outlined. In a further step, I will describe how international policies can support my public policy. Different types of evidence to assess the future progress of my policy advices will conclude my analysis and will be followed by an outlook.

2 Criteria for Guiding Public Policy in the Area of Psychoactive Substances

- I think that the US drug policy should be assessed from a rational choice perspective.[1] In this theory individuals are assumed to have preferences concerning the ranking of different options. In a cost-benefit-analysis, the individual values the possible positive and negative outcomes of different options and egoistically decides for the one with the highest payoff for himself/ herself. The individual acts in a society in which institutions and their rules guide behaviors and decisions by offering positive and negative incentives – explicitly (laws etc.) and implicitly (cultural, social, group norms etc.). The idea here is that we understand the psychoactive substance commodity system[2] as a phenomenon and do not frame it as a problem – all components of this system (production, trafficking, consumption, money laundering) exist in every nation in the world and politicians have to deal with this fact. From this standpoint, it has to be the objective of a public policy on drugs to adjust the negative and positive incentives in the institutions to change the outcomes of drug production, trafficking, consumption, and money laundering.
- In this paper, I will concentrate on the public health aspect of the phenomenon;[3] meaning that I rank public health (mental, physical, and social well-being of the US population) as a high criterion in formulating a public policy on drugs. My assumption is based on the idea of harm reduction, which “refers to any effort to reduce the harm caused by drug or alcohol use. Harm reduction principles help us realize that when we understand our relationship with alcohol and drugs we can make decisions and choices that reduce harm in our lives and in the lives of those we care about.”[4] Let us now take a look at the data for the drug phenomenon in the US to evaluate the success, progress, or failure of the prohibitionist policy with respect to certain psychoactive substances.

3 The US ‘War on Drugs’

3.1 Evaluation of the US Drug Policy

- In the following chapter, I will analyze the data on consumption by youth and the general population, as well as the relationship between crime and psychoactive substances. The 2008 ‘Monitoring the Future’ report by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research[5] summarizes that the consumption of certain drugs (all stimulants on the central nervous system) has declined in the last year; a finding that fits into a long-term gradual decline over several periods. The result is the pleasant finding that illicit drug use by students (not regarding marijuana) has declined modestly. For other illicit drugs – famously LSD, PCP, ecstasy, and heroin – a similar decline did not occur. The data for some of these drugs remains equally high as in the reports of the last years. Other drugs show a considerable decline in the latest reports, but not in 2008.

- The data for prescription drugs which function as depressants on the central nervous system shows a quite alarming rate near its recent peaks in consumption. Most users reported that they obtain these substances through informal networks of friends and relatives. One can positively remark that the use of the majority of illicit drugs is not increasing and that the risk perception of students for these drugs is well developed. Not surprisingly, the consumption of marijuana remains the highest one of all illicit drugs. However, the decreasing risk perception (often deterring the use) of marijuana for the youngest and oldest age group in the study is an alarming signal and will be discussed below.
- Alcohol and cigarette smoking have both declined over the last years. The principal investigator of the report, Lloyd Johnston, concludes: “’So, overall this would have to be characterized as a year of limited, and rather modest change.’”[6]
- For the general population (age 12 or older) the regular (past month) use of illicit drugs has stayed the same for the years 2002 to 2008 with approximately 8 percent. In the same data set of the data from the ‘National Survey on Drug Use and Health,’[7] Marijuana is the most regular used illicit drug in this statistic as well. Only two small changes in the past month use of psychotherapeutics show a statistically significant result. This means that no other statistically significant progress has occurred in this time period – the data from the ‘National Survey on Drug Use and Health’ makes clear that the expenditures of more than $200b for the US prohibitionist drug policy have made no changes in the general public’s illicit drug use.
- In another figure of this study[8], one can see that the main group of regular illicit drug users in 2008 ranged from 16-year-olds to 29-year-olds. Full-time college students had a similar rate for current illicit drug use as other people of the same age. “However, adults who had graduated from college were more likely to have tried illicit drugs in their lifetime when compared with adults who had not completed high school (51.8 vs. 37.7 percent).”[9] The data shows past month use of illicit drugs for all age groups up to the oldest members of our society, therefore one can already conclude at this point that the ‘war on drugs’ will unlikely result in a drug-free society.

[...]


[1] For the following explanations cf. Mares, David R. Drug Wars and Coffeehouses: the Political Economy of the International Drug Trade. Washington: CQ Press, 2006. Pages 23-25.

[2] Mares, David R. Drug Wars and Coffeehouses: the Political Economy of the International Drug Trade. Washington: CQ Press, 2006. Pages 13-17.

[3] Ibid. Page 30.

Mares, David R. “The Phenomenon of Psychoachtive Substance Use .” University of California, San Diego. Political Science Department. Course 145a: International Politics and Drugs. Winter 2010, Week 1. PowerPoint Presentation. Slides 3-10.

[4] Denning, Patt, Jeannie Little, and Adina Glickman. Over the Influence: the Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol. New York: Guilford Press, 2004. Page 1.

[5] “Various Stimulant Drugs Show Continuing Gradual Declines among Teens in 2008, most Illicit Drugs Hold Steady.” Monitoring the Future. University of Michigan. 11 December, 2008. Press release. monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/08drugpr.pdf. 18 March 2010.

[6] “Various Stimulant Drugs Show Continuing Gradual Declines among Teens in 2008, most Illicit Drugs Hold Steady.” Monitoring the Future. University of Michigan. 11 December, 2008. Press release. monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/08drugpr.pdf. 18 March 2010.

[7] “Figure 2.2 Past Month Use of Selected Illicit Drugs among Persons Aged 12 or Older: 2002-2008.” Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics. Office of Applied Studies. 2008.

[8] “Figure 2.4 Past Month Illicit Drug Use among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Age: 2008.” Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics. Office of Applied Studies. 2008.

[9] “Education.” Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics. Office of Applied Studies. 2008.

Excerpt out of 18 pages

Details

Title
US Drug Policy
Subtitle
A New Approach
College
University of California, San Diego  (Department of Political Science)
Course
International Politics and Drugs
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2010
Pages
18
Catalog Number
V149678
ISBN (eBook)
9783640603947
ISBN (Book)
9783640604098
File size
585 KB
Language
English
Tags
us, drug, policy, strategy, phenomenon, psychoactive, substance, alcohol, crime, marijuana, risk, awareness, illicit, war on drug, prescription, state, school, education
Quote paper
Renard Teipelke (Author), 2010, US Drug Policy, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/149678

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: US Drug Policy


Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free