Eldredge, a former Reagan campaigner and entrepreneur, believes that America's War on Drugs is an utter failure, and he pleads for legalization. Arguing that nothing seems to have been learned from the experiment with Prohibition, he points out the negative impacts of the drug war on crime rates, corruption, prison crowding, public health, civil liberties, and race relations. He proposes that the government sell illicit drugs in a system similar to state liquor stores, with the profits used for treatment and education. He argues that realizing there will always be a market for mind-altering substances will permit us to search for a "good" realistic solution rather than the "perfect" chimera of total interdiction. Eldredge's suggestions are not novel, but his book is a concise review of the case for legalization of drugs. Recommended.--Gregor A. Preston, formerly with Univ. of California Lib., Davis
A slim but helpful volume examining the inadequacy of current US drug policies and how these policies might be changed. In the view of the author, an entrepreneur, onetime Reagan campaign chairman, and son of an alcoholic, prohibition as the foundation of our approach to controlling drug use has failed. "The need," he maintains, "is for education, not incarceration, treatment, not torment." Drugs should be legal and state-controlled, with the profits from sales going to education programs on the harm drugs may do, treatment for addicts desiring it, and research into the causes of addiction. There is nothing particularly new here; amid a growing literature calling for an end to drug prohibition, many of Eldredge's themes are often better, more deeply covered elsewhere. Still, two things are notable. The first, as he emphatically declares, is the fact that Eldredge is a "white, conservative Republican who has passed the Medicare milestone." No liberal or aging hippie is he, indicating perhaps how widespread is the discontent with current US drug policies. The second item of note is the author's excellent analysis of what these current policies have done or may do to civil liberties. In the name of "zero tolerance," Congress proposed a law to create an arctic gulag for convicted drug offenders (fortunately, never passed). Warrantless searches and the unconstitutionalþto the authorþseizure of property take the place of due process. The random and capricious use of drug testing, though of course not always unreasonable, further threatens our individual liberties. The author concludes with the simple points that people have always wanted mind-altering substances and always will,and that this demand will always be met, either legally or illegally. Given these truths, the prohibition approach to drug control is not worth the cost to our civil liberties. A good summary of and introduction to a libertarian perspective on drugs, freedom, and the role of the state.