Drugs and Drug Policy in America

A Documentary History

by Steven R. Belenko, ed.


Explores highly controversial issues surrounding drug use, drug abuse, and the legalization of drugs.

Print Flyer

March 2000


Pages 416
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/U.S. Public Policy and Administration
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Debates over the use and abuse of drugs, the laws controlling drugs in this country, and the question of whether or not certain drugs should be legally available have inflamed Americans since the 19th-century, and continue to flourish as America attempts to rage its war on drugs. Students can trace the history and development of these arguments, as well as the reactions to them, through this unique collection of over 250 primary documents. Court cases, speeches, laws, opinion pieces, and other documents bring to life the controversies surrounding the issues. Explanatory introductions to documents aid users in understanding the various arguments put forth, while illuminating the significance of each document.

Belenko traces the origins and changes in the nature of drug use and abuse in this country, as well as drug policy. Students can follow the evolution of the laws that have limited access to drugs such as cocaine and opium that were once legal in this country, as well as read the differing opinions in recent history on whether or not certain drugs such as marijuana ought to be legally available. The carefully chosen documents reflect the fact that our government's decisions have not always ended public controversy about how to deal with drug related problems and the very real consequences of addiction. The introductory and explanatory text help readers understand the nature of the conflicts, the issues being litigated, the social and cultural pressures that have shaped the debates, and the manner in which the passions of individual people have affected our drug policies.

Topic Centers

Timeline of Key Events in American Drug Policy
American Drug Policy in the 19th Century
The Early Expansion of Federal Drug Control
The Harrison Act
Supreme Court Decisions on the Harrison Act
Overview of State Anti-Drug Laws
Marijuana Policy: The Early Years
American Drug Policy to World War II
Drug Policy from World War II through the 1950s: The Escalation of Punishment
The Medicalization of Addiction: Drug Treatment and Anti-Drug Policy
Drug Policy in the 1960s and 1970s: A Changing View
Marijuana Policy after the 1960s
Crack Cocaine and Drug Policy from the 1980s
The Debate over Drug Legalization
Suggested Readings



The major value of this book is its quick reference to primary documents for students to start their research projects....The work is highly recommended for large public, school, and academic libraries.—ARBA

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