The War on Drugs: A History

The War on Drugs: A History

The War on Drugs: A History

The War on Drugs: A History


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A revealing look at the history and legacy of the "War on Drugs"

Fifty years after President Richard Nixon declared a "War on Drugs," the United States government has spent over a trillion dollars fighting a losing battle. In recent years, about 1.5 million people have been arrested annually on drug charges—most of them involving cannabis—and nearly 500,000 Americans are currently incarcerated for drug offenses. Today, as a response to the dire human and financial costs, Americans are fast losing their faith that a War on Drugs is fair, moral, or effective.

In a rare multi-faceted overview of the underground drug market, featuring historical and ethnographic accounts of illegal drug production, distribution, and sales, The War on Drugs: A History examines how drug war policies contributed to the making of the carceral state, racial injustice, regulatory disasters, and a massive underground economy. At the same time, the collection explores how aggressive anti-drug policies produced a “deviant” form of globalization that offered economically marginalized people an economic life-line as players in a remunerative transnational supply and distribution network of illicit drugs. While several essays demonstrate how government enforcement of drug laws disproportionately punished marginalized suppliers and users, other essays assess how anti-drug warriors denigrated science and medical expertise by encouraging moral panics that contributed to the blanket criminalization of certain drugs.

By analyzing the key issues, debates, events, and actors surrounding the War on Drugs, this timely and impressive volume provides a deeper understanding of the role these policies have played in making our current political landscape and how we can find the way forward to a more just and humane drug policy regime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479811366
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 11/30/2021
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

David Farber, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas, has published numerous books on recent United States history, including The War on Drugs (NYU Press, 2021), The Age of Great Dream: America in the 1960s (Hill and Wang 1994), Sloan Rules (University of Chicago Press 2005), Crack (Cambridge 2019), The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism (Princeton, 2010), and Taken Hostage.

Table of Contents

Introduction David Farber 1

Part I Background

1 The Advent of the War on Drugs David Farber 17

Part II Supply and Demand

2 Drug Dealers David Farber 37

3 The Mexico-Chicago Heroin Connection Elaine Carey 64

4 Cultivating Cannabis, Excepting Cannabis Michael Polson 92

Part III The Domestic Front

5 The Local War on Drugs Peter C. Pihos 131

6 Cannabis Culture Wars Emily Dufton 159

7 Psychedelic Wars: LSD as Mental Medicine in a Battle for Hearts and Minds Lucas Richert Erika Dyck Alexis Turner 186

Part IV The International Front

8 The War on Drugs in Mexico Aileen Teague 215

9 The War on Drugs in Afghanistan James Bradford 242

Part V The Alternative to War

10 Between the Free Market and the Drug War David Herzberg 273

11 The Pharma Cartel Kathleen Frydl 303

Acknowledgments 343

About the Editor 345

About the Contributors 347

Index 351

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