Drug Policy

Drug Policy

Drug policy is a favourable public policy which is mainly associated with drug control measures. It is categorically designed by the Office of the National Drug Control Policy to help strengthen efforts that are essential in preventing drug use among communities. The policy also aims to seek early intervention opportunities necessary for the healthcare sector.  According to the drug policy also play a significant role in integrating treatment for disorders that are associated with substance use into healthcare and expand the need support for recovery.  Examining the drug policy and its stakeholder, as well as long-term and short-term implications relevant to the stakeholders, is a paramount measure in contemporary society.

Drug policy is a policy that the government mainly uses to offer control and regulations of different psychoactive substances, especially those that cause physical and mental dependence as well as addiction. According to Csete et al. (2016), the government also designed the policy to incorporate laws that can be used to regulate trade, use of illicit substances, and their distributions. The drug policy covers a broader spectrum, ranging from rug classification to legal punishments that one might be exposed to due to drug treatment or activity in different situations.

Potential Stakeholder and their Long and Short Term Implications

The police: Although the policy is mainly controlled by the government, which ensures that everything is safe and sound. The drug policy has potential stakeholders who provide that those proper measures are in place for its use. The most common stakeholder is the police.  The police ensure that the development implications seeking to establish new licenses premises are done by following the outlined laws and regulations governing the system. The police also ensure that the liquor and license submission are appropriately maintained based on the described requirements (Csete et al., 2016). Similarly, as law and order contenders, the policy ensures that drug use and application in all social places are correctly made based on the outline regulations. Overall, the police ensure that the market and trade does not involve in illegal transactions and drugs that might cause mayhem to the users.

The Community: Secondly, the wider community which includes local business persons, religious officials, local health personnel, parents, local police, among others. These consist of all members of the community who work hand in hand with the police and the government to ensure that proper measures are in place and are followed to limit drug use among them. Though the community is not an integral stakeholder, they provide that the use of drug and businesses around it are done based on the outlined guidelines. Remarkably, they ensure that there is a proper balance between illegal drugs and the right ones. Similarly, the community provides a rehabilitation center where victims of drug abuse may be given appropriate care and treatment. The community, in conjunction with the health professionals, the public policy, the public council, and other integral bodies, ensure that the general public is not exposed to dangers that might jeopardize their relationships due to drug use. They also ensure that all drugs are appropriately evaluated before allowed for use among people, and an in-depth law is in place to protect members from substance misuse.

Challenges in Crafting Drug Policy: The use of the drug has drastically changed in the recent past, making it hard to comprehend better measures to eradicate it. The introduction of new regulatory frameworks has tried to raise significant discussions that can be used to address issues associated with drug and substance abuse. In the formulation of policy to address the menace, there has been a significant challenge that has been incurred. Close attention reveals that drug use and trade require a community effort to resolve. However, there has been an increased incidence of laxity that has, in turn, expose people to various setbacks in their attempts to create a sound law to govern substance use.

Mass Incarceration: Although the policy tends to evaluate the possible causes and consequences associated with the drugs, it has been noted that at different stages, there have been significant variations leading to an increased chance in the formulation a proper measure. In most cases, the drug policy has been faced with considerable difference in the cause of drug abuse and its possible consequences as the use among people have been charged with increased incarceration activities among members,

New Regulatory Frameworks: The new regulatory framework has been used to pay more attention to particular drug use and for specific purposes. As a result, most people have clanged to these new measures and avoided the negative implications associated with such approaches (Gudiksen & King, 2019). The process of limited efforts had been put in place to prevent people from the abuse of drugs. For instance, as opposed to the adverse effects that are associated with Cannabis Sativa and the need to formulate a better law to govern its usage, the new regulatory framework has made it famous as recreational and therapeutic purposes.


Csete, J., Kamarulzaman, A., Kazatchkine, M., Altice, F., Balicki, M., Buxton, J., … & Hart, C. (2016). Public health and international drug policy. The Lancet387(10026), 1427-1480.

Gudiksen, K. L., & King, J. S. (2019). The Burden of Federalism: Challenges to State Attempts at Controlling Prescription Drug Costs. Journal of Legal Medicine39(2), 95-120.

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Prepared by: Mary H. Maguire, California State University, Sacramento Kim Schnurbush, California State University,Sacramento

Psychology of Drugs and Abuse

Drug Addiction May Be Hereditary, Study Suggests

Steve Connor

Learning Outcomes

After reading this article, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the role of genetics in drug addiction. • Identify the contribution of self-control to drug addiction.

The human brain may be “wired up” for addictive behav- iour according to a study that shows how some people are more likely than others to become addicted to crack cocaine.

Scientists have found specific abnormalities in the brains of regular cocaine users which are likely to have been present in early childhood rather than coming about as a result of the drug misuse.

The researchers also found similar abnormalities in the brothers and sisters of cocaine addicts—even though the sib- lings were not themselves drug users—but did not find the same brain patterns in the general population.

The discovery of specific brain abnormalities in the families of drug addicts suggests a genetic basis for addictive behav- iour. But it also implies that some people can overcome this predisposition to remain free of drugs, said Karen Ersche of the University of Cambridge.

“Cocaine is a highly addictive drug but only some people get hooked on it. However, your chances of getting hooked rise about eight times if you have a family member who is addicted,” Dr Ersche said.

“Our findings suggest that drug addiction is not a failure of character or a life-style choice. It’s a problem with the brain.

If your brain is wired for addiction it’s easier for the drugs to take over, but the good thing is that this is not inevitable,” she said.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council and published in the journal Science, used hospital scanners to anal- yse the brains of 50 cocaine addicts and compared them against the brain scans of their nonaddicted siblings. As an overall con- trol, the researchers also scanned the brains of 50 unrelated, healthy volunteers.

The scans showed that both the addicts and their siblings shared defects in the nerve fibres that communicate with the front part of the brain, the temporal cortex, which is known to be involved in controlling impulsive behaviour.

Previous research has shown that drug addiction is linked with brain abnormalities involved with self control but it was not known whether the drug misuse was the cause or the result of the irregularities in the brain.

“Given that some forms of drug addiction are thought to develop out of bad habits that get out of control, it’s intriguing that siblings who don’t abuse drugs show similar brain abnor- malities as the ones who have been abusing drugs for many years,” Dr Ersche said.

“Our findings now shed light on why the risk of becoming addicted to drugs is increased in people with a family history of drug or alcohol dependence—parts of their brains underlying self-control abilities work less efficiently,” she said.

“The use of drugs such as cocaine further exacerbates this problem, paving the way for addiction to develop from occa- sional use,” she added.

The next stage of the research is to find out why the drug- free siblings were able to avoid getting hooked on drugs.



Drug Addiction May Be Hereditary, Study Suggests by Steve Connor

They may have developed other interests that led them away from drug taking, or have been influenced by older family members.

“While we still have more work to do to fully address the reasons why some family members show a greater resilience against addiction, our results will provide the scientific basis for the development of more effective prevention and treatment for people at risk,” Dr Ersche said.

Professor Les Iversen of the University of Oxford said: “These new findings reinforce the view that the propensity to addiction is dependent on inherited differences in brain cir- cuitry, and offer the possibility of new ways of treating high- risk individuals to develop better ‘self control’.”

Critical Thinking

  1. Discusswhytheriskforbecomingaddictedtodrugsis increased in those with a family history of drug dependence.

Analyze two different theories that explain the onset of drug addiction.

Internet References

National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence


National Institute on Drug Abuse


Connor, Steve, “Drug Addiction May Be Hereditary, Study Suggests,” The Independent, February 3, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Independent. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


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what are your thoughts on the current drug penalty laws

what are your thoughts on the current drug penalty laws?Do they seem “fair” in light of other crimes, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, etc? (use research to backup your argument) How has the war on drugs impacted prison populations? Are there any dangers associated with the drug penalties and prison overpopulation? What about the cost to the states and taxpayers? Are we not tough enough on drugs? What are the states and federal government doing to address these issues? ( Research places like California to see how they are dealing with prison overpopulation of non-violent offenders.) Please be sure to meet the requirements for posting in the discussion board. For more specifics, please refer to to the directions provided in the Start Here tab in eCampus. Do not forget your works cited. Since the above-mentioned web links/articles are all required for this discussion, you must include them in your works cited. Any additional research must be included in your sources as well.
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Health Complications among Drug and Substance Abusers

Over the years, substance abuse treatment approaches been focusing on eliminating or reducing the use of psychoactive materials, a trend that has ignored the adverse health issues. Disregarding the impacts of substance abuse and focusing on underlying issues has resulted in an ever-growing burden of drug-related deaths and blood-borne diseases. Epidemiologists have established a significant association between use of psychoactive materials and new patterns of viral infections such as Hepatitis B and C, and HIV/AIDS (Guarino, Marsch, Deren, Straussner, & Teper, 2015). The growing concern of drug abuse has also influenced the incidence of diseases such as wound botulism and tetanus. The adverse health impacts have informed a number of solutions. Some of the popular evidenced-based approaches include matrix model, family behavior therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management interventions, and 12-step facilitation therapy. While the efficacy of the approaches has been confirmed by the current stock of knowledge, they have not addressed the health needs of drug abusers, with many scholars suggesting that the plans are rigid in their approach, whereas the substance abuse trends are highly evolving. The supposition is supported by the contemporary effects of drug addiction, where they continue to have a significant toll on individual health and social functions in spite of massive public health spending (Degenhardt et al., 2013).
The prevalence of substance abuse has remained persistently high. The trend is explained by Alhyas et al. (2015) in their suggestion that the current generation is using psychoactive materials for the desired outcome, unlike the 20th-century abusers who did not understand the effects of indulging in drugs. The 21st-century youths are abusing substances as part of the exploratory behavior, even when they have full knowledge of the side effects. The trend has resulted in legislative measures where some states are legalizing previously outlawed substances such as Marijuana (Huddleston, 2016). However, the strategies only address the socioeconomic implications and not drug-usage complications and deaths. Against this backdrop, practitioners are starting to embrace harm reduction strategies to offset both socioeconomic and adverse health effects at both individual and community level. Harm limiting strategies are evidence-based approaches of keeping up with the dynamics of drug abuse. With the traditional methods having failed to address relative risks linked with substance abuse, focusing on offsetting the adverse effects and complications does not only offer a promising future, but also reduced mortality, negative behaviors, and morbidity rates (Toumbourou et al., 2007).
The problem-oriented approach is congruent with the principles of evidence-based practice where the focus should not only be embracing proven policies and interventions, but also adopting methods and procedures that are linked to the dynamism of the problem. Its focus is informed by trends in substance abuse, where many people continue to use drugs with full knowledge of its negative implications for the physical and psychosocial functioning (Sederer, 2016). The behavioral trend has led to a scholarly conclusion that drug will remain part of the humanity, where users will keep furthering their experiments to exploit perceived benefits such as enhancing pleasure and easing discomfort (Coon & Mitterer, 2013). The surmise is supported by recent trends, where the rate of use of opioids for non-medical purposes has been on the rise (Longo, Compton, Jones, & Baldwin, 2016). Although the impact of the misuse is a well-understood subject, individuals continue to use opioids. The trend is against the natural responses when human beings avoid harmful substances. Schatz (2016) associates the trend to Hollywood culture, where drug-related phenomenon such as sexual prowess, curiosity, enjoyment, boldness, confidences, and sound sleep are praised. With the concept of global village scenario having been realized through advanced transport and communication system, Manza (2016) suggest that the number of drug users will keep increasing as advanced technologies have resolved inaccessibility. The trend necessitates the need for a change in focus from limiting the use of substance abuse to harm minimizing strategies (van Amsterdam & van den Brink, 2013).
Harm Minimization Strategies as Evidence-Based Interventions for Drug and Substance Abusers
One of the evidence-based approaches to addressing adverse health effects and social dysfunction associated with drug abuse is harm minimization strategies. The interventions focus on empowering substance users and cushioning them against complications and the risk of contracting illnesses (Ruan et al., 2013). Harm minimization procedures entail neutralizing risks in drug taking as well as addressing elements that can affect the quality of life. The evidence-based practices are effective in addressing unprecedented effects of substance abuse such as blood-borne viruses, overdose, unintentional injury, premature drug-related death, septicemia, and dental health among others (Hickman, De Angelis, Vickerman, Hutchinson, & Martin, 2015). The issues calls for revisiting drug policies, where harm minimizing approaches should be integrated into comprehensive care plans for drug abuse treatments (van Amsterdam & van den Brink, 2013).
Harm reduction approaches entail embracing practical ideas and strategies to offset the risk and negative health impacts arising from drug use. Like other patient-centered public health and psychosocial interventions, harm minimizing strategies adopts a non-judgmental approach with drug users and the community being active participants in shaping procedures and programs around substance abuse (Harmreduction.org, 2016). The evidence-based and cost-conscious practices do not only focus on drug use control but also improving the quality of life of involved parties. The harm minimization model is informed by a widely explored supposition that substance abuse is a behavior that is influenced by a myriad of factors. The underlying elements are utilized in the execution of the activities such as peer education, counseling, overdose prevention, need and syringe programs, voluntary HIV testing, wound care, enlisting in substance abuse treatment programs, pharmacotherapy for addiction cases, and primary health care including treatment for STIs and viral diseases.
The rationale for the set of interventions is informed by Roizens 4-L model, where harm minimization action plans are structured to address livelihood aspects, health effects, legal issues, and relationship issues emanating from substance abuse (Hussein, 2008). Similarly, the proposition of Thorleys model on patterns of use and drug-related complications finds huge applicability in limiting the impacts of drug addiction at both individual and community level (Hussein, 2008). Based on the two theoretical frameworks, harm minimization approaches focus on the three behavioral levels of 1) substance acquisition, 2) usage, and 3) withdrawal stage. At the acquisition level, harm minimization approaches focus on addressing violence and criminality associated with accessing psychoactive materials from the market.
Intervening at the drug abuse stage entails offsetting complications that are related to drug use. A key area of focus at the usage level is dosage and route of administration. The centrality of the two aspects is evidence-based, where the current body of literature reveals that most of the complications are contributed by the dosage as well as the route of administration. For instance, intravenous injections have been classified as the riskiest strategy as it compromises the integrity of the skin as a primary line of defense, exposing victims to opportunistic pathogens. It also leads to open wounds, vein problems, and abscesses (Del Giudice, 2004). The stage is linked to viral infections such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDs, making awareness campaigns and health education a critical cog. The health promotion methods create awareness on disease transmission and ways of effective prevention and educate users on safety procedures such as disposal of sterile and well as non-sterile materials. Uses of injectable are discouraged to offset the spread of blood-borne infections.
Harm minimization at the withdrawal level seeks to address physical symptoms as well as psychosocial aspects associated with quitting drugs. The stage focuses on establishing supportive tools and environment where professional, families and drug users interact to modify behaviors. To prevent withdrawal complications and setbacks, the intervention provides alternatives such as pharmacological antagonist drugs (Farr?, Galindo, & Torrens, 2014). The drug-substitution approach does not only reduce address usage-related risks but also initiates the road to recovery.
Identification of Measurement Outcomes for Identified Interventions
The rationale of the health promotion is ingrained in the Ron Roizen?s model, where effects of psychoactive substances are abbreviated as 4Ls (Liver, Lover, Livelihood, and Law). The four categories will be the parameters of monitoring and evaluation procedures to assess the level of efficacy of the health promotion intervention. The four categories are informed by the WHO definition of health, where it?s a state of holistic mental, physical, and social well-being and not the absence of disease or infirmity. Evaluating the four pillars is thus critical in assessing the effectiveness of the intervention in attaining complete wellbeing.
The liver category captures all aspects of personal health. The primary measurement areas are physical parameters such as engagement in activities of daily living, diet and nutrition, sleep patterns, and temperament. Visual aspects such as bodily injuries and hygiene are also important in assessing the impacts of the intervention on the health of the victims.
Lover and livelihood focus on psychosocial effects of substance abuse. A critical issue is interactional behaviors between the victim and friends, intimate partners, and family members. Another livelihood measurement outcome is engagement in activities of daily living, including professional practices and non-professional aspects. The legal issues explore observable behavioral trends such as violence.
Utilization of epidemiology principles and terminology
a) Prevalence has been used to describe the extensiveness of drug abuse as well as effects such as drug-related deaths and blood-borne diseases.
b) Incidence has been adopted to highlight new patterns of viral diseases such as Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, wound botulism, and tetanus infections. The terminology is used to highlight the risk of contracting the disease when one is a drug abuser.
c) Risk has been used to describe the potential of substance abuse in increasing susceptibility to bloodborne diseases
d) The rate has used to predict a downward change in frequency of the current mortality, negative behaviors, and morbidity cases if harm minimization strategies are fully embraced.
e) Mortality rate has been used to describe deaths emanating from drug abuse and associated complications
Implications of the project for the APN clinical practice
The health promotion project offers a valuable learning experience on sociomedical realities. The elements explored challenges the traditional perspective of disease causation, where only pathogens were considered in the etiopathophysiology of infections. The project offers valuable lessons on the expansiveness of the public health, where history, social, and political issues are also determinants of health. The contribution of social issues in therapeutic area challenges advanced practice nurses to adopt a broad perspective of caregiving, where history and culture should be the epicenter of nursing research and interventions to empower the community to take control over their lives. The realization that holistic functioning can be affected by an array of issues informs area of future engagement to assess impacts of sociomedical subjects such as sexuality, homelessness, immigration, and aging in the public health.
The project has also offered invaluable lessons on the importance of inter-professional collaborations in public health. While the health promotion intervention focuses on adverse health outcomes of drugs abuse, the models and proposition adopted to inform the arguments of the project are informed by anthropological, psychological, and well as sociological postulations.

Alhyas, L., Al Ozaibi, N., Elarabi, H., El-Kashef, A., Wanigaratne, S., & Almarzouqi, A. et al. (2015). Adolescents perception of substance use and factors influencing its use: a qualitative study in Abu Dhabi. JRSM Open, 6(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2054270414567167
Coon, D. & Mitterer, J. (2013). Psychology (p. 210). Boston: Cengage Learning.
Degenhardt, L., Whiteford, H., Ferrari, A., Baxter, A., Charlson, F., & Hall, W. et al. (2013). Global burden of disease attributable to illicit drug use and dependence: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, 382(9904), 1564-1574. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(13)61530-5
Del Giudice, P. (2004). Cutaneous complications of intravenous drug abuse. Br J Dermatol, 150(1), 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2004.05607.x
Farr?, M., Galindo, L., & Torrens, M. (2014). Addiction to Hallucinogens, Dissociatives, Designer Drugs and ?Legal Highs?. Textbook Of Addiction Treatment: International Perspectives, 567-596. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-88-470-5322-9_27
Guarino, H., Marsch, L., Deren, S., Straussner, S., & Teper, A. (2015). Opioid Use Trajectories, Injection Drug Use, and Hepatitis C Virus Risk Among Young Adult Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union Living in New York City. Journal Of Addictive Diseases, 34(2-3), 162-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10550887.2015.1059711
Hickman, M., De Angelis, D., Vickerman, P., Hutchinson, S., & Martin, N. (2015). Hepatitis C virus treatment as prevention in people who inject drugs. Current Opinion In Infectious Diseases, 28(6), 576-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/qco.0000000000000216
Huddleston, J. (2016). This Map Shows How Legalized Marijuana Is Sweeping the U.S.. Fortune. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from http://fortune.com/2016/06/29/legal-marijuana-states-map/
Hussein, R. (2008). Alcohol and Drug Misuse ; A handbook for students and health professionals. Routledge.
Longo, D., Compton, W., Jones, C., & Baldwin, G. (2016). Relationship between Nonmedical Prescription-Opioid Use and Heroin Use. New England Journal Of Medicine, 374(2), 154-163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/nejmra1508490
Manza, J. (2016). Marijuana: a gateway drug that keeps growing stronger. Eehealth.org. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from https://www.eehealth.org/blog/2016/09/marijuana-addiction-teens
Principles of Harm Reduction – Harm Reduction Coalition. (2016). Harmreduction.org. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from http://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction/
Ruan, Y., Liang, S., Zhu, J., Li, X., Pan, S., & Liu, Q. et al. (2013). Evaluation of Harm Reduction Programs on Seroincidence of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and Syphilis Among Intravenous Drug Users in Southwest China. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 40(4), 323-328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/olq.0b013e31827fd4d4
Schatz, J. (2016). Hollywood culture perpetuates drug abuse (February 6, 2014 issue) « Collegian. Clubs.lasalle.edu. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from http://clubs.lasalle.edu/collegian/2014/02/06/hollywood-culture-perpetuates-drug-abuse-february-6-2014-issue/
Sederer, L. (2016). Ask Dr. Lloyd | Why Are Psychoactive Drugs So Popular?. Askdrlloyd.com. Retrieved 4 October 2016, from http://www.askdrlloyd.com/blog/view/addictions,%20drugs,%20substance%20abuse
Toumbourou, J., Stockwell, T., Neighbors, C., Marlatt, G., Sturge, J., & Rehm, J. (2007). Interventions to reduce harm associated with adolescent substance use. The Lancet, 369(9570), 1391-1401. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(07)60369-9
Van Amsterdam, J. & van den Brink, W. (2013). The high harm score of alcohol. Time for drug policy to be revisited?. Journal Of Psychopharmacology, 27(3), 248-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881112472559

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What are the risks and benefits of the off-label drug?

What are the risks and benefits of the off-label drug?

Home>Psychology homework helpPSYRecommend one FDA-approved drug, one off-label drug, and one nonpharmacological intervention for treating your chosen disorder in older adults or pregnant women.Explain the risk assessment you would use to inform your treatment decision  making. What are the risks and benefits of the FDA-approved medicine?

What are the risks and benefits of the off-label drug?

risks and benefits of the off-label drug?

What are the risks and benefits of the off-label drug?Explain whether clinical practice guidelines exist for this disorder, and if so, use them to justify your recommendations. If not, explain what information you would need to take into consideration.Support your reasoning with at least three current, credible scholarly resources, one each on the FDA-approved drug, the off-label, and a nonpharmacological intervention for the disorder.

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Drug and polymers relating to prostate biology essay

Tamsulosin hydrochloride, a sulfamoylphenethylamine-derivative, alpha -adrenoceptor blocker with improved specificity for the alpha 1A-adrenoceptors of the prostate, and is normally used to handle BPH ( benign prostate hyperplasia ) . Drug molecule is commercially available in a racemic mixture of 2 isomers, and is pharmacologically related to Prazosin, Cardura and Hytrin. Though, distinct these drugs, tamsulosin have a higher affinity for the alpha-1A- sympathomimetic receptors, which are largely situated in vascular smooth musculus part. Some pharmacological Surveies prove that tamsulosin has approximately 12 times greater affinity for alpha-1 sympathomimetic receptors in the prostate than in the aorta, which might ensue in a decreased frequence of inauspicious cardiovascular effects.

Mechanism of action ( MOA ) : All alpa-adrenergic blockers produce important autumn of blood force per unit area in patients with indispensable high blood pressure. Tamsulosin is a selective adversary for alpha-1A and alpha-1B-adrenoceptors in the prostate status, prostate capsule, prostate urethra and vesica cervix. At least three distinguishable alpha1-adrenoceptor subtypes have been identified: I±-1A, I±-1B and I±-1D ; their distribution differs between tissue and human variety meats. About 70 % of the I±1-receptors in human prostate are of the I±-1A subtype. Blocking of these receptors causes relaxation of smooth musculuss in the prostate and vesica cervix, and therefore curtail urinary escape in work forces.

Absorption: Absorption of tamsulosin HCI from capsules incorporating 0.4 milligram is basically complete ( & gt ; 90 % ) following unwritten disposal under fasting conditions.

Toxicity: LD50 = 650 mg/kg ( in rats )

Protein binding: Approximately 94 % -99 %

Biotransformation: Tamsulosin HCI is widely metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver ; nevertheless, the pharmacokinetic profile of the metabolites in worlds has non been well-known.

t1/2: Elimination half life is 5-7 hours.

Path of riddance: Tamsulosin hydrochloride is widely metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzyme in the liver and less than 10 % of the dosage was excreted in urine unchanged. Metabolites of tamsulosin hydrochloride undergo broad junction to sulfate or glucuronide predating to nephritic elimination. On disposal of the radiolabeled dosage of tamsulosin hydrochloride to 4 healthy voluntaries, approximately 97 % of the administered radiation was recovered, with urine ( 76 % ) stand foring the primary path of elimination compared to fecal matters ( 21 % ) within 168 hours.

Volume of distributions: 16 L [ endovenous disposal to ten healthy male grownups ]

Clearance: 2.88 L/h

Table 6: Drug- Drug interactions




Use of Tamsulosin and Alfuzosin Concomitantly may consequences in linear antihypertensive effects. By and large this therapy is non recommended here.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4/2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Cimetidine induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Clarithromycin induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Clozapine induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like cocaine induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Cyclosporine induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4/2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Isoniazid induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4/2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Ketoconazole induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Norfloxacin induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP2D6 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Pioglitazone induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Verapamil induction and alteration of dosage.


Metamorphosis and clearance of tamsulosin may be reduced by CYP3A4 inhibitor. Changes in inauspicious effects were monitored in conditions like Tetracycline induction and alteration of dosage.

Table 7: List of marketed sublingual tablets



Isosorbide Dinitrate







Fentanyl ( as citrate )







Subutex 2mg and 8mg SUBLINGUAL TABLETS

Suboxone 2mg and 8mg SUBLINGUAL TABLETS

zolpidem tartrate

Edluar 5mg or 10mg SUBLINGUAL TABLETS



FROM: http/ : dailymed.nlm.nih.gov


Official web site of the Drug Bank: Tamsulosin hydrochloride ( DB00706 ) .


4.2.1 ETHYLCELLULOSE ( Raymond et al. , 2003 )

Nonproprietary Name callings

BP: Ethylcellulose

PhEur: Ethylcellulosum

USPNF: Ethylcellulose


Aquacoat ECD ; Aqualon ; E462 ; Ethocel ; Surelease.

Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number

Cellulose ethyl ether [ 9004-57-3 ]

Chemical construction

Ethyl cellulose, CAS # : 9004-57-3

Figure 6: Structure of ethyl cellulose

Functional class

Coating agent ; seasoning fixative ; tablet binder ; tablet filler ; viscousness increasing agent.

Typical belongingss

Density: 0.4gm/cm3

Glass passage temperature: 129-1330C

Specific gravitation: 1.12-1.15g/cm3

Viscosity: 5-100m Ps ( 7-100cp )


Ethyl cellulose is practically indissoluble in glycerol, propene ethanediol and water.ethyl cellulose that contains less than 46.5 % of ethoxy group is freely soluble in trichloromethane, methylacetate, tetrahydrofuran, aromatic hydrocarbons and ethanol.freely soluble in ethyl alcohol, ethyl ethanoate, methyl alcohol and methylbenzene.

Drug release through ethyl cellulose surfacing dose signifiers can be controlled by diffusion mechanism and is a map of wall thickness and surface country of surfacing thickness.

Stability and storage

It is a stable and somewhat hygroscopic stuff, and is chemically immune to bases and some salt solutions.

Ethyl cellulose is stored at a temperature non transcending 320C in a dry country off from all beginnings of heat.


Incompatible with paraffin wax and microcrystalline wax.


Ethyl cellulose is manufactured by handling purified cellulose with an alkali solution, followed by ethylation of the base cellulose with chloroethane.

Applications in pharmaceutical preparations

Hydrophobic coating agent for tablets and capsules

To modify the release of drug

To dissemble the unpleasant gustatory sensation of drug

To better the stableness of preparations

Thickening agent in picks, lotions and gels

In cosmetics and nutrient merchandises

Binder in tablets

Table 8: Uses of ethyl cellulose


Concentration ( % )


10-20 %

Sustained release tablet coating

3-20 %

Tablet coating

1-3 %

Tablet granulation

1-3 %


Non toxic, non allergic, non irritant stuff

Managing safeguards

Ethyl cellulose is combustible, and hence it is of import to forestall dust of ethyl cellulose from making potentially explosive degrees in air besides it is irritant to eyes.

4.2.2 Pectin ( www.iscanmy food.com )

A. pectin ( from greek-pektiko, ” congealed, curdled ” ) is a structural heterropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell wall of tellurian workss. It was foremost stray and described in 1825 by henri braconnot. It is produced commercially as a white to light brown pulverization, chiefly extracted from citrous fruit fruits and is used in nutrient as jelling agent peculiarly in jams and gelatins. It is besides used in fillings, Sweet, as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a beginning of dietetic fibre.

B. Biology

In works cells, pectin consists of a complex set of polyoses that are present in most primary cell walls and peculiarly abundant in the non-woody parts of tellurian workss. Pectin is present throughout primary cell walls but besides in the in-between gill between works cells where it helps to adhere cells together.

The sum, construction and chemical composing of pectin differs between workss, with in a works over clip and in different parts of a works. During maturing, pectin is broken down by the enzymes pectinase and pectinesterase ; in this procedure the fruit becomes softer as the in-between gill interruptions down and cells become detached from each other. A similar procedure of cell separation caused by pectin dislocation occurs in the abscission zone of the leafstalks of deciduous workss at leaf autumn.

In human digestion, pectin goes through the little bowel more or less integral.pectin is therefore a soluble dietetic ingestion of pectin has been shown to cut down blood cholesterin degrees. The mechanism appears to be an addition of viscousness in the enteric piece of land, taking to a decreased soaking up of cholesterin from gall or nutrient.

In the big bowel and colon, microorganisms degrade pectin and liberate short-chain fatty acids that have positive influence on wellness ( prebiotic consequence )


The characteristic construction of pectin is a additive concatenation of alpha- ( 1-4 ) -linked D-galacturonic acid that forms the pectin-back bone, a gay galactturonan. Into this anchor, there are parts where galacturonic acid is replaced by ( 1-2 ) -linked L-rhamnose. From the rhamnose residues, sidechains of assorted impersonal sugars branch off. This type of pectin is called rhamnogalacturonan. Up to every 25th galacturonic acid in the chief concatenation is replaced with rhamnose. Some streaches consist of jumping galacturonic acid and rhamnose- ” hairy parts ” , others with lower denseness of rhamnose- ” smooth parts ” . The impersonal sugars are chiefly D-galactose, L-arabinose and D-xylose, the types and proportions of impersonal sugars changing with the beginning of pectin.

Rhamnogalacturonans ( RGs ) are a group of closely related cell wall pectic polyoses that contain a anchor of the reiterating disaccharide: 4 ) -a-D-GalpA- ( 1,2 ) -I±-L-Rhap- ( 1,2 ) . The term rhamnogalecturonan I ( RG-I ) is typically used to mention to this pectin polyose.

Another structural type of pectin is rhamnogalacturonan II ( RG-II ) , which is a less frequent composite, extremely branched polyose.

Isolated pectin has a molecular weight of typically 60-130,000 g/mol, changing with beginning and extraction conditions.

In nature, around 80 % of carboxyl groups of galactronic acid are esterified with methyl alcohol. This proportion is decreased more or less during pectin extraction. The ratio of esterified to non-esterified galacturonic acid determines the behaviour of pectin in nutrient applications. This is why pectins are classified as high-VS. Low-ester pectins or in short HM vs. LM- pectins, with more or less than half of all the galacturonic acid esterified.

The non-esterified galacturonic acid units can be either free acids ( carboxyl groups ) or salts with Na, K or Ca. The salts of partly esterified pectins are called pectinates, if the grade of esterification is below 5 % the salts are called pectates, the indissoluble acerb signifier, and pectic acid.

Some workss like sugar Beta vulgaris, murphies and pears contain pectins with acetylated galacturonic acid in add-on to methyl esters. Acetylation prevents formation but increases the stabilizing and emulsifying effects of pectin.

Chemical construction

hypertext transfer protocol: //sci-toys.com/ingredients/pectin_2.gif

Figure 7: Structure of pectin

D. Beginnings and production

Apples, Cydonia oblonga, plums, Ribes uva-crispas, oranges and other citrous fruit fruits contain much pectin, while soft fruits like cherries, grapes and strawberries contain small pectin.

Typical degrees of pectin in workss are ( fresh weight )

Apples, 1-1.5 %

Apricot,1 %

Cherries,0.4 %

Oranges, 0.5-3.5 %

Carrot approx. 1.4 % citrous fruit Peels,30 %

The chief raz-materials for pectin production are dried citrus Peel or apple pomance, both byproducts of juice production.pomance from sugar Beta vulgaris is besides used to a little extent.

Applications of pectin in pharmaceutical preparations ( www.mdpi.com/journal/molecules. )

1 ) As an excipients in many different types of dose signifiers such as movie coating of colon-specific drug bringing systems when assorted with ethyl cellulose.

2 ) Micro particulate bringing systems for ophthalmic readyings and matrix type transdermic spots.

3 ) As a high possible hydrophilic polymeric stuff for controlled release matrix drug bringing systems, but its aqueous solubility contributes to premature and fast release of the drug from these matrices.

4 ) Depending on the type and construction of the pectin molecule, pectins can gel in assorted ways. Geling can be induced by acid or cross-linking with Ca ion or by reaction with alginate. When a pectin solution is titrated with acid, the ionisation of carboxylate groups on pectins is pent-up doing pectin molecules to no longer drive each other over their full ironss. The pectins can therefore tie in over a part of their ironss to organize acid-pectin gels. Gel organizing systems have been investigated widely for sustained drug bringing.

5 ) A mixture of xyloglucan with pectin resulted in an in situ gel organizing system with sustained paracetamol drug bringing in rats.

4.2.3 Povidone ( Raymond et al. , 2003 )

Nonproprietary Name callings:

BP: Povidone

JP: povidone

ph Eur: povidone

USP: povidone


E1201 ; Kollidon ; plasdone ; poly [ 1- ( 2-oxo-1-pyrolidinyl ) ethene ] ; polyvidone ; polyvinylpyrrolidone ; pvp ; 1-vinyl-2-pyrrolidonone polymer.

Chemical name and CAS Registry figure

1-Ethenyl-2-pyrrolidinone homopolymer [ 9003-39-8 ]

Chemical construction

chemical construction

Figure 8: Structure of polyvinyl pyrrolidone

Functional class:

Disintegrant ; disintegration assistance ; suspending agent ; tablet binder.

Typical belongingss:

Acidity/alkalinity: pH 3.0-7.0 ( 5 % w/v aqueous solution ) .

Density ( majority ) :0.29-0.39g/cm3for plasdone

Density ( tapped ) : 0.39-0.54g/cm3

Density ( true ) : 1.180 g/cm3


20 g/s for povidone k-15

16g/s for povidone k-29/32

Melting point:

Softens at 150A°c

Moisture content:

Povidone is really hygroscopic, important sums of wet being absorbed at low comparative humidnesss.

Particle size distribution:

Kollidon 25/30: 90 % & gt ; 50I?m, 50 % & gt ; 100I?m, 5 % & gt ; 200 I?m

Kollidon 90: 90 % & gt ; 200I?m, 95 % & gt ; 250I?m.


Freely soluble in acids, trichloromethane, ethyl alcohol, ketones, methyl alcohol and H2O ; practically indissoluble in quintessence, hydrocarbons and mineral oils. In H2O, the concentration of a solution is limited merely by the viscousness of the ensuing solution, which is a map of the k-value.

Viscosity ( dynamic ) :

The viscousness of aqueous povidone solutions depends on both the concentration and the molecular weight of the polymer employed.

Table 9: Dynamic viscousness of 10 % w/v aqueous povidone ( kollidon ) solutions at 20I?0c


Dynamic viscousness ( thousand dad s )











Stability and storage conditions:

Povidone darkens to some extent on warming at 1500 degree Celsius, with a decrease in aqueous solubility. It is stable to a short rhythm of heat exposure around 110-1300c steam sterilisation of an aqueous solution does non change its belongingss. Aqueous solutions are susceptible to model growing and accordingly necessitate the add-on of suited preservatives.

Povidone may be stored under ordinary conditions without undergoing decomposition or debasement. However, since the pulverization is hygroscopic. It should be stored in an air tight container in a cool, dry topographic point.


Povidone is compatible in solution with broad scope of inorganic salts, natural and man-made rosins, and other chemicals. It forms molecular adducts in solution with sulfathiazole, Na salicylate, salicylic acid, Phenobarbital, tannic acid, and other compounds ; the efficaciousness of some preservatives, e.g. , sodium ethylmercurithiosalicylate, may be adversely affected by the formation of composites with povidone.

Methods of industry:

Povidone is manufactured by the Reppe procedure. Acetylene and methanals are reacted in the presence of a extremely active Cu acetylide accelerator to organize butynediol, which is hydrogenated to butanediol and so cyclodehydrogenated to organize butyrolactone. Pyrrolidone is produced by responding butyrolactone with ammonium hydroxide. This is followed by a vinylation reaction in which pyrrolidone and ethyne are reacted under force per unit area. The monomer, vinyl pyrrolidone, is so polymerized in the presence of a combination of accelerators to bring forth povidone.

Application in pharmaceutical preparation:

1 ) Povidone solutions are used as binders in wet granulation procedures.

2 ) Povidone is besides added to pulverize blends in the dry signifier and granulated in situ by the add-on of H2O, intoxicant or hydroalcoholic solutions.

3 ) Povidone is used as a solubilizer in unwritten and parenteral preparations ( to heighten disintegration of ill soluble drugs from solid-dosage signifiers )

4 ) Povidone solution may besides used as surfacing agents.

5 ) Used as a suspending, stabilising or viscousness increasing agent in a figure of topical and unwritten suspensions and solutions.

Table 10: Uses of povidone


Concentration ( % )

Carrier for drugs


Distributing agent

Up to 5

Eye beads


Suspending agent

Up to 5

Tablet binder, dilutants ( or ) coating agent



Non-toxic, nonirritant and no sensitisation. Temporary acceptable day-to-day consumption for povidone has been set by the WHO at up to 25 mg/kg organic structure weight

LD50 ( mouse, IP ) : 12g/kg

Managing safeguards ;

Observe normal safeguards appropriate to the fortunes and measure of stuff handled. Eye protection, Gloves and a dust mask are recommended.

4.2.4 I?- cyclodextrin ( Raymond et al. , 2003 )

Non proprietary names:

BP: Betadex

PhEur: Beta dexum

USP NF: Beta dex


I?- cyclodextrins: beta-cycloamylose ; beta-dextrin ; cavamax W7 drug company ; Cyclo heptaamylose ; cyclo heptaglucan ; cyclo maltoheptose ; Kleptose.

Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number

I?- cyclodextrin [ 7585-39-9 ]

Empirical expression

I?- cyclodextrin C 42H70O35

Chemical construction

Degree centigrades: UserssandeepDesktopUntitledBETA CYCLODEXTRIN.png

Figure 9: Structure of I?-cyclodextrin


Cylcodextrins are cyclic oligosaccharides incorporating at least sox D- ( + ) -Glucopyranose units attached by I± ( 1a†’4 ) glucoside bonds.

Cyclodextrins occurs as white, practically odorless, all right crystalline pulverizations, holding a somewhat sweet gustatory sensation, some derived functions occurs as formless pulverizations.

Molecular weight:


Functional class:

Solubilizing agent ; stabilising agent.

Typical Properties:

Compressibility: 21.0-44.0 % for I?- cyclodextrin

Density ( majority ) : 0.523g/cm3

( Tapped ) : 0.754g/cm3

( True ) : — –

Melting point: 255-265o degree Celsius

Moisture content: 13.0-15.0 % W/W

Particle size distribution: 7.0-45.0I?m


I?- Cyclodextrin: soluble 1 in 200 parts of propene ethanediol, 1 in 50 0f H2O at 20o degree Celsiuss,

1 in 20 at 50o degree Celsiuss ; practically indissoluble in propanone, ethyl alcohol ( 95 % ) and methylene chloride.

Specific rotary motion [ I± ] 025: I?- cyclodextrin: +162.0o

Surface tenseness ( at 25oc ) :

I?- Cyclodextrin: 71mN/m ( 71 dynes/cm ) .


The activity of some anti microbic preservatives in aqueous solution can be reduced in the presence of hydroxyl propyl- I?-cyclodextrin.

Method of industry:

Cyclodextrin are manufactured by the enzymatic debasement of amylum utilizing specialised bacteriums. For illustration, I?- cyclodextrin is produced by the action of the enzyme cyclodextrin glucosyl transferase upon amylum or a starch hydrolysate. An organic dissolver is used to direct the reaction that produces I?- cyclodextrin, and to forestall the growing of micro-organisms during the enzymatic reaction. The indissoluble composite of I?- cyclodextrin and organic dissolver is separated from the non-cyclic amylum, and the organic dissolver is removed in vacuo so that less than 1ppm of dissolver remains in the I?- cyclodextrin. The I?- cyclodextrin is so C treated and crystallized from H2O, dried and collected.

Applications in pharmaceutical preparations:

1. I?- cyclodextrin used in unwritten tablet preparations, both in moisture granulations and direct compaction processes.

2. I?- cyclodextrin is considered to be non-toxic when administered orally, and is chiefly used in tablet and capsule preparation.

3. I?- cyclodextrin ( least soluble ) is able to organize inclusion composites with a no. of molecules of pharmaceutical involvement.

4. I?- cyclodextrin is nephrotoxic and should non be used in parenteral preparation.


Basically non-toxic and non-irritant stuff.

Severe nephrotoxicity observed by I?- cyclodextrin.

No grounds to propose that cyclodextrins are mutagenic or teratogenic.

Managing safeguards:

Cyclodextrins are all right organic pulverizations and should be handled in a well-ventilated environment.

Attempts should be made to restrict the coevals of dust, which can be explosive.

4.2.5 Hydroxy propylmethyl cellulose ( Raymond et al. , 2003 )


Benecel HPMC ; Cellulose hydroxyroylmetyhl ether ; E464 ; HPMC ; Methocel ; Metolose ; Pharma coat ; Spectracel 6 ; Tylopur.

Non- proprietary Name callings:

USP and BP: Hypermellosee

JP: Hydroxy propyl metyl cellulose

Ph.Eur: Hyperrmellosum.

Chemical name and CAS register name:

Cellulose, 2-hydroxypropyl methyl quintessence [ 9004-65-3 ]

Chemical construction

Degree centigrades: UserssandeepDesktopFile Hypromellose.png – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia_filesHypromellose.png

Figure 10: Structure of Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose

Molecular weight:



Odourless, tasteless, white/creamy, white coloured hempen or farinaceous pulverization.

Functional class:

Coating agent, movie former, rate-controlling polymer for sustained release ; stabilising agent ; suspending agent ; tablet binder ; viscousness increasing agent.

Applications in pharmaceutical engineering:

1. Widely used in unwritten and topical preparations

2. In unwritten merchandises as tablet binder ( 2-5 % ) in movie coating and as drawn-out release matrix.

3. High viscousness classs may be used to retard the release of drugs from a matrix at degrees

of 10- 80 % w/w in tablets and capsules.

4. Used as a suspending and inspissating agent in topical solutions, peculiarly ophthalmic

( 0.45- 1 % w/w ) readyings.

5. Besides used as an emulsifier, suspending agent and stabilising agent in topical gels

and unctions.

6. Used in industry of capsules as an adhesive in plastic patchs and as a wetting agent for difficult contact lenses.

Typical belongingss:


Soluble in cold H2O but indissoluble in trichloromethane, ethyl alcohol ( 95 % ) and ether, but soluble in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and methylene chloride, mixture of methyl alcohol and CH2Cl2, mixture of H2O and intoxicant.

Ph: 5.5- 8 for 1 % w/w aqueous solution.

Melting point:

Browns at 190-200oc ; chars at 225-230o degree Celsius.

Glass passage temperature ; 170-180oc


Tapped: 0.557g/cc

Majority: 0.341g/cc

Stability and storage conditions:

It is stable stuff although it is hygroscopic after drying. It should be stored in a well closed container, in a cool and dry topographic point.


With oxidising agents


Non-toxic and non-irritant stuff although inordinate unwritten ingestion may hold a laxative consequence.

Table 11: Methocel Application Grid:



Classs used

Bulk laxatives

High viscousness classs of methocel K premium can be used efficaciously for their H2O keeping belongings

A4M, K4M, K100M

Creams, Gels and unctions

Good prurience at low concentrations, good solution lucidity.

A4M, K4M, E4M, F4M,

Ocular readyings

Good prurience at low concentrations, good solution lucidity



Efficient thickener, good suspension of solids

A4M, K4M, E4M, F4M


Good microbial opposition, good suspension of solids

A15C, A4M, K4M, K15M, F4M


Good microbial opposition, good suspension of solids

A15LV, E15LV, E5LV

Film former

Clarity, adhesion, tensile strength

E15LV, E5LV, E6LV, E50LV

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Order 682374 Drug Addiction Chemicals that harm with pleasure

Order 682374 Drug Addiction Chemicals that harm with pleasure.

  Type of paper Research Paper
  Subject Psychology
  Number of pages 8
  Format of citation APA
  Number of cited resources  5
  Type of service  Writing

Define drug addiction.  Compare the various routes of drug administration. Explain the ways in which drugs can influence the nervous system and how they are eliminated from the body.  Explain how the body can become tolerant to a drug and how a person can be physically dependent on a drug. Explain drug tolerance and described conditioned drug tolerance and compensatory drug responses. Describe the health hazards associated with five commonly used drugs. What was the early research on drug addiction and what are the current approaches to mechanisms of addiction.

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Use of Theory in Health Communication Design Print Page Introduction The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is used in nearly 80% of the school districts in the United States in 54 other countries around the world and is taught to 36000000 studen

Use of Theory in Health Communication Design Print Page Introduction The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is used in nearly 80% of the school districts in the United States in 54 other countries around the world and is taught to 36000000 studen.

Use of Theory in Health Communication Design Print Page Introduction The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is used in nearly 80% of the school districts in the United States, in 54 other countries around the world, and is taught to 36,000,000 students each year. Therefore, it’s important to know if this highly popular program is effective in reducing alcohol and drug use. –David J. Hanson Many health communication campaigns are ineffective or unsuccessful. As a health educator, how might you avoid creating an ineffective health communication campaign? Consider for example that most of the ineffective health communication campaigns have one thing in common. They are not based on any type of theoretical framework or model. This is unfortunate given that there are many effective health education theories and models that can help make your health communication campaign successful. As a health educator you may be required to develop a health communication campaign that is based on comprehensive applicable conceptualizations such as the social marketing framework regarding the “4 Ps” of marketing (Price, Product, Place, and Promotion) or the Communication-Persuasion Matrix. Additionally, there are many health behavioral models that may also be integrated to help tailor messages and provide cues to action. Some of the more common behavioral models used when creating health communication campaigns include the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change), Theory of Reasoned Action, Social Cognitive Theory, and the Health Belief Model. In reviewing the scientific literature, health educators are able to determine how to use these models for specific health topics and populations. This week, you examine and review the theoretical frameworks used in creating health communication campaigns. You also create a health communication campaign brochure using the Stages of Change health behavioral model. Required Resources Readings Hatchell, A.C., Bassett-Gunter, R.L., Clarke, M., Kimura, S., & Latimer-Cheung, A. E. (2013). Messages for men: The efficacy of EPPM-based messages targeting men’s physical activity. Health Psychology, 32(1), 24–32. Noar, S. M., & Van Stee, S. K. (2012). Designing messages for individuals in different stages of change. In H. Cho (Ed.), Health communication message design: Theory and practice (pp. 209–229). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. (Chapter 12 in the course text) National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Pink book: Making health communication programs work. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, Office of Communications. Making health communication programs work. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.gov “Overview” (pp. 11) “Stage 1: Planning Strategy Development” (pp.15–51) “Stage 2: Developing and Pretesting Concepts, Messages, and Materials” (pp. 53–89) Week 5 Discussion Print Page Critiquing Health Communication Materials In last week’s Assignment, you conducted a literature review examining effective health communication campaigns. As you explored this week, the majority of effective health communication campaigns integrate health behavior theories and models. As a health educator, how will you determine which health behavior theory or model is most appropriate when creating a health communication campaign? For this Discussion, consider your literature review from last week. Select a stage of change pertaining to your selected health topic. Then, develop a tri-fold brochure for your health communication campaign that demonstrates your selected stage of change. Remember to create a brochure that is appropriate for your target population and includes a health message that will support your overall health communication campaign for the course. Post by Day 3 a brief description of the brochure that you plan to develop for your selected health topic including the draft of the brochure that you created. Explain why you selected the stage of change and how this stage of change is incorporated into your brochure. Be specific and provide examples.

Use of Theory in Health Communication Design Print Page Introduction The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is used in nearly 80% of the school districts in the United States in 54 other countries around the world and is taught to 36000000 studen

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What are the opportunities and risks of applying the controlled delivery method in investigating drug trafficking networks?

What are the opportunities and risks of applying controlled
delivery methods in investigating drug trafficking networks?

Instruction: Using PowerPoint, make a presentation based on the crime scene
investigation of a controlled drug trafficking delivery below. To complete the
task, ensure that you:
(i) Give details of methods that investigators would use in
performing this operation.
(ii) Illustrate each step with diagrams, pictures and/or sketches.
(iii) Illustrate the equipment and tools necessary for an undercover
(iv) Include what investigative response would be necessary to carry
out the undercover operation.
(v) Complete the presentation between 15-25 minutes.
Date administered: April 22, 2021 – Due date: April 29, 2021
(vi) Your video should be on when making your presentation.
(vii) Avoid continuous reading from the screen, and engage in discussion
when answering each question.
On 13 June 2011, the French authorities requested the help of the
Moroccan Direction Générale de la Sûreté Nationale – the countries’
national security agency – to organize a controlled delivery. This
operation sought to dismantle a criminal organization specialized in drug
trafficking between Morocco and the Paris region in France. The
investigation established that the head of the criminal organization had
appointed a French national to supervise the transport of an unknown
number of controlled drugs. The drug was concealed in an oil cargo, in an
“Iveco” van. On 18 June 2011, the police forces of the Tanger-Med
seaport eased the transit of the van. Once it reached Séte, in Southern
France, the van was closely monitored until reaching the location of the
cargo’s unloading. As a result of this controlled delivery, 11 people were
apprehended in several cities in France, and a large quantity of cannabis
resin was seized.

Significant feature

A successful controlled delivery operation in a drug trafficking case
Questions to consider:

  1. What are the opportunities and risks of applying the controlled
    the delivery method in the investigation of drug trafficking networks? (3
  2. What factors led to a successfully controlled delivery investigation?
    Identify the evidence in the case and any additional evidence. (4
  3. What conditions must be met by law enforcement before the
    implementation of a controlled delivery technique? Can this be
    classified as entrapment? (5 marks)
  4. What are the forensic implications on evidence for a drug-related
    crime? (4 marks)
  5. Consider the laws of search, arrest, and seizure on how law
    enforcement apprehended 11 people. (4 marks)

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What is the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism?

What is the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism?.

1. Explain the history of opium use.

2. What is the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism?

3. What is the connection between the Opium Wars and the outlawing of the nonmedical use of opiates?

4. Why did attitudes toward marijuana change during the 1960s.

British naval assault on a Chinese port during the first Opium War (1839–1842)

After reading this chapter, you will:

  • ▸ Know the popular prejudices against racial and ethnic groups that determined drug policy
  • ▸ Know the history of Prohibition
  • ▸ Understand why policy toward opiates that did not change until 1914
  • ▸ Know why cocaine never proved as popular as opiates until the 1960s
  • ▸ Recognize how marijuana emerged as a symbol of nonconformity and eventually a political issue
  • ▸ Know the history of the use of amphetamines
  • ▸ Know the history of the use of barbiturates and tranquilizers
  • ▸ Know the history of the use of hallucinogen
  • ▸ Understand why drugs became a major political issue from the 1960s through the 1980s
  • ▸ Appreciate why drugs as a political issue became dormant

The Drug War as Eugenics

Erik Roskes (2012), a forensic psychiatrist, refers to the “War on Drugs” as eugenics: the practice of ridding the human species of unfit biological stock, largely through sterilization. This was a popular practice in the United States well into the twentieth century. In North Carolina, for example, between 1929 and 1974 more than 7,600 persons were sterilized. Dr. Roskes refers to the drug war as eugenics without surgery: the mass incarceration for drug-related offenses of persons who disproportionately come from segments of society that suffer various, often multiple, deprivations: social deprivation, educational deprivation, nutritional deprivation, cultural deprivation, cognitive deprivation.

 “There was little interest [at the end of the 19th century] in suppressing a business that was so profitable for opium merchants, shippers, bankers, insurance agencies and governments. Many national economies were as dependent on opium as the addicts themselves. Indeed, what Karl Marx described as ‘the free trade in poison’ was such an important source of revenue for Great Powers that they fought for control of opium markets.”

Antonio Maria Costa (20093)

The history of drug use and attempts at its control provides insight into the complexity of more contemporary control, enforcement, and social issues on this subject. As with many attempts at historical analyses, we are handicapped by the lack of adequate data on a number of items, particularly the extent of drug use at earlier periods in our history and of alcohol use during Prohibition. Providing an empirically based analysis of changing policies with respect to drugs is difficult without the ability to measure the effect of these changes, and, in fact, we cannot provide such measurements.

   Policy decisions, as we shall see in this chapter, have frequently been based on perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes with little empirical foundation. They have often reflected popular prejudices against a variety of racial and ethnic groups.1 Indeed, race, religion, and ethnicity have been closely identified with the reaction to drugs in the United States: the Irish and alcohol; the Chinese and opium; African-Americans and cocaine; Mexicans and marijuana. “What we think about addiction very much depends on who is addicted” (Courtwright 1982, 3). And sometimes policy has reflected concern over issues of international, rather than domestic, politics. Because the earliest drug prohibitions in the United States reflected a concern with alcohol, we begin our examination with a history of that substance.

Alcohol and the Temperance Movement

Drinking alcoholic beverages for recreational purposes has an ancient history, with records of such use dating back more than 5,000 years. The Bible records that Noah planted a vineyard and drank of the wine “and was drunken” (Genesis 9, 21). Later we are told that the daughters of Lot made their father drunk with wine to trick him into propagating the family line (Genesis 19, 32–36). This unseemly use of alcohol could certainly serve as an object lesson against its use, but the practice of drinking alcoholic beverages appears near universal.

   The citizens of the United States have traditionally consumed large quantities of alcohol. “Early Americans drank alcohol at home and at work, and alcohol was ever-present in colonial social life” (W. L. White 1998, 1). When he retired from politics, George Washington started a whiskey business. In 1785, Dr. Benjamin Rush, the Surgeon General of the Continental Army and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, authored a pamphlet decrying the use of high-proof alcohol, which he claimed caused, among other maladies, moral degeneration, poverty, and crime. This helped to fuel the move toward prohibition and inspired the establishment in 1808 of the Union Temperance Society, the first of many such organizations (Musto 1998). The Society was superseded by the American Temperance Union in 1836, and the work of the Union was supported by Protestant churches throughout the country. But the movement was divided over appropriate goals and strategies: Should moderation be preached, or should abstinence be forced through prohibition? “Between 1825 and 1850, the tide turned toward abstinence as a goal and legal alcohol prohibition as the means” (W. L. White 1998, 5).

   The abstinence view differs from the modern alcoholism movement in that it maintained that alcohol is inevitably dangerous for everyone: “Some people might believe they can drink moderately, but it is only a matter of time before they encounter increasing problems and completely lose control of their drinking.” Thus, “as strange as it seems to us today, the temperance message thus was that alcohol is inevitably addicting, in the same way that we now think of narcotics” (Peele 1995, 37).

   Opposition to alcohol was often intertwined with nativism, and efforts against alcohol and other psychoactive drugs were often a thinly veiled reaction to minority groups. (The early temperance movement, however, was strongly abolitionist.) Prohibitionists were typically rural, white Protestants antagonistic to urban Roman Catholics, particularly the Irish, who used the social world of the saloon to gain political power in large cities such as New York and Chicago (Abadinsky 2013).

   The temperance movement made great progress everywhere in the country, and it often coincided with the anti-immigrant sentiment that swept over the United States during the 1840s and early 1850s. In 1843, this led to the formation in New York of the American Republican Party, which spread nationally as the Native American Party, or the “Know-Nothings.” (Many clubs were secret, and when outsiders inquired about the group, they were met with the response “I know nothing.”) Allied with a faction of the Whig Party, the Know-Nothings almost captured New York in 1854, and they did succeed in carrying Delaware and Massachusetts. They also won important victories in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, and California. In 1855, the city of Chicago elected a Know Nothing mayor; and prohibition legislation was enacted in the Illinois legislature only to be was defeated in a public referendum that same year (Asbury 1950). That same year about a third of the United States had prohibition laws, and other states debated their enactment (Musto 1998). Slavery and abolition and the ensuing Civil War subsequently took the place of temperance as the day’s most pressing issue (Buchanan 1992).

   In 1869, the Prohibition Party attempted, with only limited success, to make alcohol a national issue. In 1874, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was established. Issues of temperance and nativism arose again strongly during the 1880s, leading to the formation of the American Protective Association, a rural-based organization that was strongly anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic. In 1893, the Anti-Saloon League was organized.

   Around the turn of the century, these groups moved from efforts to change individual behavior to a campaign for national prohibition. After a period of dormancy, the prohibition movement was revived in the years 1907 to 1919 (Humphries and Greenberg 1981). By 1910, the Anti-Saloon League had become one of the most effective political action groups in U.S. history; it had mobilized Protestant churches behind a single purpose: to enact national prohibition (Tindall 1988). In 1915, nativism and prohibitionism fueled the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and this time the KKK spread into Northern states and exerted a great deal of political influence. During World War I, an additional element, anti-German xenophobia, was added because brewing and distilling were associated with German immigrants (Cashman 1981).

   Big business was also interested in prohibition. Alcohol contributed to industrial inefficiency, labor strife, and the saloon, which served the interests of urban machine politics:

  • Around 1908, just as the Anti-Saloon League was preparing for a broad state-by-state drive toward national prohibition, a number of businessmen contributed the funds essential for an effective campaign. The series of quick successes that followed coincided with an equally impressive number of wealthy converts, so that as the movement entered its final stage after 1913, it employed not only ample financing but a sudden urban respectability as well. Substantial citizens now spoke about a new discipline with the disappearance of the saloon and the rampaging drunk. Significantly, prominent Southerners with one eye to the Negro and another to the poorer whites were using exactly the same arguments. (Wiebe 1967, 290–291)

   Workmen’s compensation laws also helped to stimulate business support for temperance. Between 1911 and 1920, forty-one states had enacted workmen’s compensation laws, and Sean Cashman (1981) points out: “By making employers compensate workers for industrial accidents the law obligated them to campaign for safety through sobriety. In 1914, the National Safety Council adopted a resolution condemning alcohol as a cause of industrial accidents” (6).

National Prohibition

Acrimony between rural and urban America, between Protestants and Catholics, between Republicans and (nonsouthern) Democrats, between “native” Americans and more recent immigrants, and between business and labor reached a pinnacle with the 1919 ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States—Prohibition became federal law. According to Chambliss (1973), prohibition was accomplished by the political efforts of an economically declining segment of the American middle class: “By effort and some good luck this class was able to impose its will on the majority of the population through rather dramatic changes in the law” (10). Andrew Sinclair (1962) notes “national prohibition was a measure passed by village America against urban America” (163). We could add that it was also passed by much of Protestant America against Catholic (and, to a lesser extent, Jewish) America (Sinclair 1962Gusfield 1963): “Thousands of Protestant churches held thanksgiving prayer meetings. To many of the people who attended, prohibition represented the triumph of America’s towns and rural districts over the sinful cities” (Coffey 1975, 7). Mississippi was the first state to ratify Prohibition.

   The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the thirty-sixth state, Nebraska, on January 16, 1919. According to its own terms, the amendment became effective on January 16, 1920. Ten months after ratification, over a veto by President Woodrow Wilson, Congress passed the National Prohibition Act, usually referred to as the Volstead Act after its sponsor, Congressman Andrew Volstead of Minnesota. The Volstead Act strengthened the language of the amendment and defined as intoxicating all beverages containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol; it also provided for federal enforcement. Thus, the Prohibition Bureau, an arm of the Treasury Department, was created, soon becoming notorious for employing agents on the basis of political patronage.

   In addition to being inept and corrupt, bureau agents were a public menace. By 1930, 86 federal agents and 200 civilians had been killed, many of them innocent women and children. Prohibition agents set up illegal roadblocks and searched cars; drivers who protested were in danger of being shot. Agents who killed innocent civilians were rarely brought to justice; when they were indicted by local grand juries, the cases were simply transferred, and the agents escaped punishment (Woodiwiss 1988). The bureau was viewed as a training school for bootleggers because agents frequently left the service to join their wealthy adversaries.

   The response of a large segment of the American population also proved to be a problem. People do not necessarily acquiesce to new criminal prohibitions, and general resistance can be fatal to the new norm (Packer 1968). Moreover, primary resistance or opposition to a new law such as Prohibition can result, secondarily, in disregard for laws in general—negative contagion. During Prohibition, notes Sinclair (1962), a “general tolerance of the bootlegger and a disrespect for federal law were translated into a widespread contempt for the process and duties of democracy” (292). This was exemplified by the general lawlessness that reigned in Chicago:

  • Banks all over Chicago were robbed in broad daylight by bandits who scorned to wear masks. Desk sergeants at police stations grew weary of recording holdups—from one hundred to two hundred were reported every night. Burglars marked out sections of the city as their own and embarked upon a course of systematic plundering, going from house to house night after night without hindrance…. Payroll robberies were a weekly occurrence and necessitated the introduction of armored cars and armed guards for the delivery of money from banks to business houses. Automobiles were stolen by the thousands. Motorists were forced to the curbs on busy streets and boldly robbed. Women who displayed jewelry in nightclubs or at the theater were followed and held up. Wealthy women seldom left their homes unless accompanied by armed escorts. (Asbury 1950, 339)

   The murder rate in the United States went from 6.8 per 100,000 persons in 1920 to 9.7 in 1933, the year Prohibition was repealed (Chapman 1991c), after which it began to decline. And while the United States had local organized crime before Prohibition, there were no large crime syndicates (King 1969). Pre-Prohibition crime, insofar as it was organized, centered on corrupt political machines, vice entrepreneurs, and, at the bottom, gangs. The “Great Experiment” of Prohibition provided an opportunity for organized crime, especially violent forms, to blossom into an important force. Prohibition acted as a catalyst for the mobilization of criminal elements in an unprecedented manner, unleashing a heightened level of competitive violence and reversing the order between the criminal gangs and the politicians. It also led to an unparalleled level of criminal organization (Abadinsky 2013). In 1933, when the repeal of Prohibition left a critical void in their business portfolios, criminal organizations turned to the drug trade.

Opium: A Long History

In addition to alcohol, the earliest “war against drugs” in the United States was its response to opium. Opium is the gum from the partially ripe seedpod of the opium poppy. There is no agreement on where the plant originated, and a great deal of debate surrounds its earliest use as a drug, which might date back to the Stone Age. The young leaves of the plant have been used as an herb for cooking and as a salad vegetable, and its small, oily seeds, which are high in nutritional value, can be eaten, pressed to make an edible oil, baked into poppy seed cakes, ground into poppy flour, or used as lamp oil. As a vegetable fat source “the seed oil could have been a major factor attracting early human groups to the opium poppy” (Merlin 1984, 89). Archaeologists have discovered ancient art relics that may depict opium use in Egyptian religious rituals as early as 3500 BCE (Inverarity, Lauderdale, and Field 1983). By 1500 BCE, the Egyptians had definitely discovered the medical uses of opium: It is listed as a pain reliever in the Ebers Papyrus (Burkholz 1987). From Egypt its use spread to Greece (R. O’Brien and Cohen 1984). Opium is discussed in Homer’s works, the Iliad and the Odyssey (circa 700 BCE), and the term opium is derived from the Greek word opion, meaning the juice of the poppy (Bresler 1980). Hippocrates (460–357 BCE), the “father of medicine,” recommended drinking the juice of the white poppy mixed with the seed of the nettle.

   Opium was used by doctors in classical Greece and ancient Rome, and Arab traders brought it to China for use in medicine. Later, the Crusaders picked it up from Arab physicians and brought it back to Europe where it became a standard medicine. Opium is mentioned by Shakespeare in Othello and by Chaucer, Sir Thomas Browne, and Robert Burton. In the early sixteenth century, the physician Paracelsus made a tincture of opium—powdered opium dissolved in alcohol—that he called laudanum, a popular medication until the end of the nineteenth century (R. O’Brien and Cohen 1984).

   Two centuries ago, opium was generally available as a cure for everything. It was used much like aspirin; every household had some, usually in the form of laudanum. Naturally, the general availability of opium and the medical profession’s enthusiasm for it helped to create addicts, some of them very famous, such as the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) and the essayist Thomas De Quincy (1785–1859), who wrote Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). At the time medicine was primitive, doctors had no concept of addiction, and opium became the essential ingredient of innumerable remedies dispensed in Europe and America for the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, rheumatism, diabetes, malaria, cholera, fevers, bronchitis, insomnia, and pain of any kind (Fay 1975). There was nothing to alert patients to the dangers of the patent medicines they were prescribed or to prepare them for the side effects. As a result, no more stigma was attached to the opium habit than to alcoholism; it was an unfortunate weakness, not a vice. Wherever it was known, opium use was both medicinal and recreational (Alvarez 2001).

   In explaining the popularity of opium, Terry and Pellens (1928) state: “When we realize that the chief end of medicine up to the beginning of the [nineteenth] century was to relieve pain, that therapeutic agents were directed at symptoms rather than cause, it is not difficult to understand the wide popularity of a drug which either singly or combined so eminently was suited to the needs of so many medical situations” (58).

   Opium is a labor-intensive product. To produce an appreciable quantity requires repeated incisions of a great number of poppy capsules: about 18,000 capsules—one acre—to yield twenty pounds of opium (Fay 1975). Accordingly, supplies of opium were rather limited in Europe until the eighteenth century, when improvements in plantation farming increased opium production. Attempts to produce domestic opium in the United States were not successful. While the poppy could be grown in many sections of the United States, particularly the South, Southwest, and California, labor costs and an opium gum that proved low in potency led to a reliance on imported opium (H. W. Morgan 1981).

   As the primary ingredient in many “patent medicines” (actually secret formulas that carried no patent at all) opiates were readily available in the United States until 1914, and quacks prescribed and promoted them for general symptoms as well as for specific diseases. People who were not really ill were frightened into the patent medicine habit (Young 1961). Patients who were actually sick received the false impression that they were on the road to recovery. Of course, because there was often little or no scientific medical treatment for even the mildest of diseases, a feeling of well-being was at least psychologically, and perhaps by extension physiologically, beneficial. However, babies born to opiate-using mothers were often small and experienced the distress of withdrawal. Harried mothers often responded by relieving them with infant remedies that contained opium.

The first significant piece of prohibitionary drug legislation in the United States was enacted by the city of San Francisco in 1875; the ordinance prohibited the operation of opium dens, commercial establishments for the smoking of opium.

   The smoking of opium was popularized by Chinese immigrants, who brought the habit with them to the United States. During the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries they also operated commercial opium dens that often attracted the attention of the police, “not because of the use of narcotics but because they became gathering places for thieves, footpads [highwaymen] and gangsters.” In fact, “opium dens were regarded as in a class with saloons and, for many years, were no more illegal” (Katcher 1959, 287).

Morphine and Heroin

At the end of the eighteenth century (Latimer and Goldberg 1981) or early in the nineteenth (Bresler 1980Nelson et al. 1982Merlin 1984Musto 1987), a German pharmacist poured liquid ammonia over opium and obtained an alkaloid, a white powder that he found to be many times more powerful than opium. Friedrich W. Serturner named the substance morphium after Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams; ten parts of opium can be refined into one part of morphine (Bresler 1980). It was not until 1817, however, that articles published in scientific journals popularized the new drug, resulting in widespread use by doctors. Quite incorrectly, as it turned out, the medical profession viewed morphine as an opiate without negative side effects.

   By the 1850s, morphine tablets and a variety of morphine products were readily available without prescription. In 1856, the hypodermic method of injecting morphine directly into the bloodstream was introduced to U.S. medicine. The popularity of morphine rose during the Civil War, when the intravenous use of the drug to treat battlefield casualties was rather indiscriminate (Terry and Pellens 1928). Following the war, morphine use among ex-soldiers was so common as to give rise to the term army disease. Nevertheless, “Medical journals were replete with glowing descriptions of the effectiveness of the drug during wartime and its obvious advantages for peacetime medical practice” (Cloyd 1982, 21). Hypodermic kits became widely available, and the use of unsterile needles by many doctors and laypersons led to abscesses or disease (H. W. Morgan 1981).

   In the 1870s, morphine was exceedingly cheap, cheaper than alcohol, and pharmacies and general stores carried preparations that appealed to a wide segment of the population, whatever the individual emotional quirk or physical ailment. Anyone who visited nearly any physician for any complaint, from a toothache to consumption, would be prescribed morphine (Latimer and Goldberg 1981), and the substance was widely used by physicians themselves. Morphine use in the latter part of the nineteenth century was apparently widespread in rural America (Terry and Pellens 1928).

   Starting in the 1870s, doctors injected women with morphine to numb the pain of “female troubles” or to turn the “willful hysteric” into a manageable invalid. By the 1890s, when the first drug epidemic peaked, female medical addicts reportedly made up almost half of all addicts in the United States. In the twentieth century the drug scene shifted to underworld elements of urban America, the disreputable “sporting class”: prostitutes, pimps, thieves, gamblers, gangsters, entertainers, active homosexuals, and youths who admired the sporting men and women (Stearns 1998).

   In 1874, a British chemist experimenting with morphine synthesized diacetylmorphine, and the most powerful of opiates came into being: “Commercial promotion of the new drug had to wait until 1898 when the highly respected German pharmaceutical combine Bayer, in perfectly good faith but perhaps without sufficient prior care, launched upon an unsuspecting world public this new substance, for which they coined the trade name ‘heroin’ and which they marketed as—of all things—a ‘sedative for coughs’” (Bresler 1980, 11). Jack Nelson and his colleagues (1982) state that heroin was actually isolated in 1898 in Germany by Heinrich Dreser, who was searching for a nonhabit- forming pain reliever to take the place of morphine. Dreser reportedly named it after the German word for hero, heroisch. Opiates, including morphine and heroin, were readily available in the United States until 1914. In 1900, 628,177 pounds of opiates were imported into the United States (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970). The President’s Commission on Organized Crime (PCOC) (1986) notes that between the Civil War and 1914 there was a substantial increase in the number of people using opiates. This was the consequence of a number of factors:

  • ▸ The spread of opium smoking from Chinese immigrants into the wider community
  • ▸ An increase in morphine addiction as a result of its indiscriminate use to treat battlefield casualties during the Civil War
  • ▸ The widespread administration of morphine by hypodermic syringe
  • ▸ The widespread use of opium derivatives by the U.S. patent medicine industry
  • ▸ Beginning in 1898, the marketing of heroin as a safe, powerful, and nonaddictive substitute for the opium derivatives morphine and codeine

China and the Opium Wars

Until the sixteenth century, China was a military power whose naval fleet surpassed any that the world had ever known. A fifteenth-century power struggle ultimately led to a regime dominated by Confucian scholars; in 1525, they ordered the destruction of all oceangoing ships and set China on a course that would lead to poverty, defeat, and decline (Kristoff 1999).

   In 1626 a British warship appeared off the coast of China, and its captain imposed his will on Canton (now Guangzhou) with a bombardment. In response to the danger posed by British ships the emperor of China opened the city of Canton to trade, and Britain granted the British East India Company a monopoly over the China trade. Particularly important to this trade was the shipping of tea to England. By the 1820s, the trade situation between England and China paralleled trade between the United States and Japan. Although British consumers had an insatiable appetite for Chinese tea, the Chinese desired few English goods. The British attempted to introduce alcohol, but a large percentage of Asians have enzyme systems that make drinking alcohol extremely unpleasant. Opium was different (Beeching 1975). Poppy cultivation was an important source of revenue for the Mughal emperors (Muslim rulers of India between 1526 and 1857). When the Mughal Empire fell apart, the British East India Company salvaged and improved the system of state control of opium. In addition to the domestic market, the British supplied Indian opium to China.

   Opium was first prohibited by the Chinese government in Peking (Beijing) in 1729, when only small amounts of the substance were reaching China. Ninety years earlier, tobacco had been similarly banned as a pernicious foreign article. Opium use was strongly condemned in China as a violation of Confucian principles, and for many years the imperial decree against opium was generally supported by the population (Beeching 1975). In 1782, a British merchant ship’s attempt to sell 1,601 chests of opium in China resulted in a total loss, as no purchasers could be found. By 1799, however, a growing traffic in opium led to an imperial decree condemning the trade. Latimer and Goldberg (1981) doubt that opium addiction was extensive or particularly harmful to China as a whole. The poorer classes, the authors note, could afford only adulterated opium, which was unlikely to produce addiction. “Just why the Chinese chose to obtain their supplies from India,” states Peter Fay (1975, 11–12), “is no clearer than why, having obtained it, they smoked it instead of ate it.” In the end, he notes, the Chinese came to prefer the Indian product to their own. However, because the preference was to smoke opium, it had to be specially prepared by being boiled in water, filtered, and boiled again until it reached the consistency of molasses, thereby becoming “smoking opium.”

   Like the ban on tobacco, the one on opium was not successful (official corruption was endemic in China). As consumption of imported opium increased and the method of ingestion shifted from eating to smoking, official declarations against opium increased, and so did smuggling. “When opium left Calcutta, stored in the holds of country ships and consigned to agents in Canton, it was an entirely legitimate article. It remained an entirely legitimate article all the way up to the China Sea. But the instant it reached the coast of China, it became something different. It became contraband” (Fay 1975, 45). In fact, the actual shipping of opium to China was accomplished by independent British or Parsee merchants. Thus, notes Beeching (1975), “the Honourable East India Company was able to wash its hands of all formal responsibility for the illegal drug trade” (26).

   Opium furnished the British with the silver needed to buy tea. Because opium was illegal in China, however, its importation—smuggling—brought China no tariff revenue. Before 1830, opium was transported to the coast of China, where it was offloaded and smuggled by the Chinese themselves. The outlawing of opium by the Chinese government led to the development of an organized underworld; gangs became secret societies—triads—that still move heroin out of the Far East to destinations all over the world (Latimer and Goldberg 1981) (discussed in Chapter 9). The armed opium ships were safe from Chinese government intervention, and the British were able to remain aloof from the smuggling itself.

   In the 1830s, the shippers grew bolder and entered Chinese territorial waters with their opium cargo. The British East India Company, now in competition with other opium merchants, sought to flood China with cheap opium and drive out the competition (Beeching 1975). In 1837, the emperor ordered his officials to move against opium smugglers, but the campaign was a failure, and the smugglers grew even bolder. The following year the emperor changed his strategy and moved against Chinese traffickers and drug users, as only a total despot could do, helping to dry up the market for opium. As a result, the price fell significantly (Hanes and Sanello 2005).

The First Opium War.   In 1839, in dramatic fashion, Chinese authorities laid siege to the port city of Canton, confiscating and destroying all opium awaiting offloading from foreign ships. The merchantmen agreed to stop importing opium into China, and the siege was lifted. The British merchants petitioned their own government for compensation and retribution. The reigning Parliamentary Whig majority was very weak, however, and compensating the opium merchants was not politically or financially feasible. Instead, the cabinet, without Parliamentary approval, decided on a war that would result in the seizure of Chinese property (Fay 1975).

   In 1840, a British expedition attacked the poorly armed and poorly organized Chinese forces. In the rout that followed, the Chinese emperor was forced to pay $6 million for the opium his officials had seized and $12 million as compensation for the war. Hong Kong became a Crown colony, and the ports of Canton, Amoy (Xiamen), Foochow (Fuzhou), Ningpo, and Shanghai were opened to British trade. Opium was not mentioned in the peace (surrender) treaty, but the trade resumed with new vigor. In a remarkable reversal of the balance of trade, by the mid-1840s China had an opium debt of about 2 million pounds sterling (Latimer and Goldberg 1981). In the wake of the First Opium War, China was laid open to extensive missionary efforts by Protestant evangelicals, who, although they opposed the opium trade, viewed saving souls as their primary goal. Christianity, they believed, would save China from opium (Fay 1975). Unfortunately, morphine was actively promoted by Catholic and Protestant missionaries as an agent for detoxifying opium addicts (Latimer and Goldberg 1981).

Second Opium War.   The Second Opium War began in 1856, when the balance of payments once again favored China. In that year a minor incident between the British and Chinese governments was used as an excuse to force China into making further treaty concessions. This time the foreign powers seeking to exploit a militarily weak China included Russia, the United States, and particularly France which was jealous of the British success. Canton was sacked, and a combined fleet of British and French warships sailed right up the Grand Canal to Peking and proceeded to sack and burn the imperial summer palace, a complex of 200 buildings spread over eighty square miles of carefully landscaped parkland with extensive libraries and priceless works of art (Hanes and Sanello 2005).

   The emperor was forced to indemnify the British 20,000 pounds sterling, more than enough to offset the balance of trade which was the real cause of the war. A commission was appointed to legalize and regulate the opium trade (Latimer and Goldberg 1981) that increased from less than 59,000 chests a year in 1860 to more than 105,000 by 1880 (Beeching 1975). Until 1946 the British permitted the use of opiates in its Crown colony of Hong Kong, first under an official monopoly and, after 1913, directly by the government (Lamour and Lamberti 1974). During Japan’s occupation of China, which began a few years before its attack on Pearl Harbor, large amounts of heroin were trafficked by the Japanese army’s “special services branch,” which helped to finance the cost of the occupation (Karch 1998).

The Chinese Problem and the American Response

Chinese laborers were originally brought into the United States after 1848 to work in the gold fields, particularly in those aspects of mining that were most dangerous because few white men were willing to engage in blasting shafts, placing beams, and laying track lines in the gold mines. Chinese immigrants also helped to build the Western railroad lines at pay few whites would accept—known as “coolie wages.” After their work was completed, the Chinese were often banned from the rural counties; by the 1860s they were clustering in cities on the Pacific coast, where they established Chinatowns—and where many of them smoked opium.

   The British opium monopoly in China was challenged in the 1870s by opium imported from Persia and cultivated in China itself. In response, British colonial authorities, heavily dependent on a profitable opium trade, increased the output of Indian opium, causing a price decline that was aimed at driving the competition out of business. The resulting oversupply increased the amount of opium entering the United States for the Chinese population.

   Beginning in 1875, there was an economic depression in California. As a result, the first significant piece of prohibitionary drug legislation in the United States was enacted by the city of San Francisco. “The primary event that precipitated the campaign against the Chinese and against opium was the sudden onset of economic depression, high unemployment levels, and the disintegration of working-class standards of living” (Helmer 1975, 32). The San Francisco ordinance prohibited the operation of opium dens, commercial establishments for the smoking of opium, “not because of health concerns as such, but because it was believed that the drug stimulated coolies into working harder than non-smoking whites” (Latimer and Goldberg 1981, 208). Throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, Chinese Americans were demonized, particularly in the West (Pfaelzer 2007).

   Depressed economic conditions and xenophobia led one Western state after another to follow San Francisco’s lead and enact anti-Chinese legislation that often included prohibiting the smoking of opium. The anti-Chinese nature of the legislation was noted in some early court decisions. In 1886, an Oregon district court, responding to a petition for habeas corpus filed by Yung Jon, who had been convicted of opium violations, stated: “Smoking opium is not our vice, and therefore it may be that this legislation proceeds more from a desire to vex and annoy the ‘Heathen Chinese’ in this respect, than to protect the people from the evil habit. But the motives of legislators cannot be the subject of judicial investigation for the purpose of affecting the validity of their acts” (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970, 997).

   “After 1870 a new type of addict began to emerge, the white opium smoker drawn primarily from the underworld of pimps and prostitutes, gamblers, and thieves” (Courtwright 1982, 64). During the 1890s Chicago’s Chinatown was located in the notorious First Ward, whose politicians grew powerful and wealthy by protecting almost every vice known to humanity. But First Ward alderman John “Bathhouse” Coughlin “couldn’t stomach” opium smokers and threatened to raid the dens himself if necessary. There was constant police harassment, and in 1894 the city enacted an antiopium ordinance. By 1895, the last of the dens had been raided out of business (Sawyers 1988).

   Anti-Chinese efforts were supported and advanced by Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) as part of his effort to establish the American Federation of Labor. The Chinese served as scapegoats for organized labor that depicted the “yellow devils” as undercutting wages and breaking strikes. Anti-opium legislation was also fostered by stories of white women being seduced by Chinese white slavers through the use of opium.2 In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act banned the entry of Chinese laborers into the United States. (It was not until 1943, when the United States was allied with China in a war against Japan, that citizenship rights were extended to Chinese immigrants, and China was then permitted an annual immigration of 105 individuals.)

   In 1883, Congress raised the tariff on the importation of smoking opium. In 1887, apparently in response to obligations imposed on the United States by a Chinese-American commercial treaty negotiated in 1880 and becoming effective in 1887, Congress banned the importation of smoking opium by Chinese subjects. Americans, however, were still permitted to import the substance, and many did so, selling it to both Chinese and American citizens (PCOC 1986). The Tariff Act of 1890 increased the tariff rate on smoking opium to $12 per pound, resulting in a substantial increase in opium smuggling and the diversion of medicinal opium for manufacture into smoking opium. In response, in 1897 the tariff was reduced to $6 per pound (PCOC 1986).

   During the nineteenth century, opiates were not associated with crime in the public mind. While some people may have frowned on opium use as immoral,

  • employees were not fired for addiction. Wives did not divorce their addicted husbands or husbands their addicted wives. Children were not taken from their homes and lodged in foster homes or institutions because one or both parents were addicted. Addicts continued to participate fully in the life of the community. Addicted children and young people continued to go to school, Sunday School, and college. Thus, the nineteenth century avoided one of the most disastrous effects of current narcotics laws and attitudes: the rise of a deviant addict subculture, cut off from respectable society and without a road back to respectability. (Brecher 1972, 6–7)

The Pure Food and Drug Act

National efforts against opiates (and cocaine) were part of a larger campaign to regulate drugs and the contents of food substances; in 1879, a bill was introduced in Congress to accomplish national food and drug regulation. These efforts were opposed by the Proprietary Association of America, which represented the patent medicine industry. The medical profession was more interested in dealing with quacks within the profession than with quack medicines, and the American Pharmaceutical Association was of mixed mind: Its members, in addition to being scientists, were merchants who found the sale of proprietary remedies bulking large in their gross income (J. H. Young 1961). Toward the end of the nineteenth century the campaign for drug regulation was assisted by agricultural chemists who decried the use of chemicals to defraud consumers into buying spoiled canned and packaged food. In 1884, state-employed chemists formed the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists to combat this widespread practice. They began to expand their efforts into nonfoodstuffs, including patent medicines.

   The nation’s newspapers and magazines made a considerable amount of money from advertising patent medicines. Toward the turn of the century, however, a few periodicals, in particular Ladies Home Journaland Collier’s, began vigorous investigations and denunciations of patent medicines. Eventually, the American Medical Association (AMA, founded in 1847), which was a rather weak organization at the close of the nineteenth century because the vast majority of doctors were not members (Musto 1973), began to campaign in earnest for drug regulation.

   U.S. Senate hearings on the pure food issue gained a great deal of newspaper coverage and aroused the public (J. H. Young 1961). The dramatic event that quickly led to the adoption of the Pure Food and Drug Act, however, was the 1906 publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Sinclair, in a novelistic description of the meat industry in Chicago, exposed the filthy, unsanitary, and unsafe conditions under which food reached the consumer. Sales of meat fell by almost 50 percent, and President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched two investigators to Chicago to check on Sinclair’s charges. Their “report not only confirmed Sinclair’s allegations, but added additional ones. Congress was forced by public opinion to consider a strong bill” (Ihde 1982, 42). The result was the Pure Food and Drug Act, passed later that same year, which required medicines to list certain drugs and their amounts, including alcohol and opiates.

China and the International Opium Conference

The international U.S. response to drugs in the twentieth century is directly related to trade with China. To increase influence in China and thus improve its trade position, the United States supported the International Reform Bureau (IRB), a temperance organization representing over thirty missionary societies in the Far East, which was seeking a ban on opiates. As a result, in 1901 Congress enacted the Native Races Act, which prohibited the sale of alcohol and opium to “aboriginal tribes and uncivilized races.” The provisions of the act were later expanded to include “uncivilized elements” in the United States proper: Indians, Eskimos, and Chinese (Latimer and Goldberg 1981).

   As a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines were ceded to the United States. At the time of Spanish colonialism opium smoking was widespread among Chinese workers on the islands. Canadian-born Reverend Charles Henry Brent (1862–1929), a supporter of the IRB, arrived in the Philippines as the Episcopal bishop during a cholera epidemic that began in 1902 and that reportedly had led to an increase in the use of opium. As a result of his efforts, in 1905 Congress enacted a ban against sales of opium to Filipino natives except for medicinal purposes. Three years later the ban was extended to all residents of the Philippines. It appears that the legislation was ineffective, and smoking opium remained widely available (Musto 1973). “Reformers attributed to drugs much of the appalling poverty, ignorance, and debilitation they encountered in the Orient. Opium was strongly identified with the problems afflicting an apparently moribund China. Eradication of drug use was part of America’s white man’s burden and a way to demonstrate the New World’s superiority” (H. W. Morgan 1974, 32).

   Bishop Brent proposed the formation of an international opium commission to meet in Shanghai in 1909. This plan was supported by President Theodore Roosevelt, who saw it as a way of assuaging Chinese anger at the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (Latimer and Goldberg 1981). The International Opium Commission, chaired by Brent and consisting of representatives from thirteen nations, convened in Shanghai on February 1. Brent was successful in rallying the conferees around the U.S. position that opium was evil and had no nonmedical use. The commission unanimously adopted a number of vague resolutions; the most important (Terry and Pellens 1928):

  • 1. Each government to take action to suppress the smoking of opium at home and in overseas possessions and settlements
  • 2. Opium has no use outside of medicine and, accordingly, that each country should move toward increasingly stringent regulations concerning opiates
  • 3. Measures should be taken to prevent the exporting of opium and its derivatives to countries that prohibit its importation

   Only the United States and China, however, were eager for future conferences, and legislative efforts against opium following the conference were generally unsuccessful. Southerners were distrustful of federal enforcement, and the drug industry was opposed. Efforts to gain Southern support for antidrug legislation focused on the alleged use of cocaine by African Americans—the substance was reputed to make them uncontrollable. Although tariff legislation with respect to opium already existed, Terry and Pellens (1928) note that its purpose was to generate income. The first federal legislation to control the domestic use of opium was passed in 1909 as a result of the Shanghai conference. “An Act to prohibit the importation and use of opium for other than medicinal purposes” failed to regulate domestic opium production and manufacture, nor did it control the interstate shipment of opium products, which continued to be widely available through retail and mail order outlets (PCOC 1986).

   A second conference was held in The Hague in 1912, with the United States, Turkey, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Japan, Russia, Italy, Germany, Persia, the Netherlands, and China in attendance. A number of problems stood in the way of an international agreement: Germany wished to protect her burgeoning pharmaceuticals industry and insisted on a unanimous vote before any action could be agreed upon; Portugal insisted on retaining the Macao opium trade; the Dutch demanded to maintain their opium trade in the West Indies; and Persia and Russia wanted to keep on growing opium poppies. Righteous U.S. appeals to the delegates were rebuffed with allusions to domestic usage and the lack of laws in the United States (Latimer and Goldberg 1981). Nevertheless, the conference managed to put together a patchwork of agreements known as the International Opium Convention, which was ratified by Congress on October 18, 1913. The signatories committed themselves to enacting laws aimed at suppressing the use of opium, morphine, and cocaine as well as drugs prepared or derived from these substances (PCOC 1986). On December 17, 1914, the Harrison Act, which represented this country’s attempt to carry out the provisions of the Hague Convention, was approved by President Woodrow Wilson.

The Harrison Act

The Harrison Act provided that any person who was in the business of dealing in drugs covered by the act, including the opium derivatives morphine and heroin, as well as cocaine, was required to register annually and to pay a special annual tax of $1. The statute made it illegal to sell or give away opium or opium derivatives and coca or its derivatives without a written order on a form issued by the commissioner of revenue. People who were not registered were prohibited from engaging in interstate traffic in the drugs, and no one could possess any of the drugs who had not registered and paid the special tax, under a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of no more than $2000. Rules promulgated by the Treasury Department permitted only medical professionals to register, and they had to maintain records of the drugs they dispensed. Within the first year more than 200,000 medical professionals registered, and the small staff of Treasury agents could not scrutinize the number of prescription records that were generated (Musto 1973).

   It was concern with federalism—constitutional limitation on the police powers of the central government—that led Congress to use the taxing authority of the federal government to control drugs. While few people today would question the Drug Enforcement Administration’s right to register physicians and pharmacists and control what drugs they can prescribe and dispense, at the beginning of the twentieth century federal authority to regulate narcotics and the prescription practices of physicians was generally thought to be unconstitutional (Musto 1998). In 1919, use of taxing authority to regulate drugs was upheld by the Supreme Court:

  • If the legislation enacted has some reasonable relation to the exercise of the taxing authority conferred by the Constitution, it cannot be invalidated because of the supposed motives which induced it…. The Act may not be declared unconstitutional because its effect may be to accomplish another purpose as well as the raising of revenue. If the legislation is within the taxing authority of Congress—that is sufficient to sustain it. (United States v. Doremus 249 U.S. 86)

   The Harrison Act was enacted with the support of the AMA and the American Pharmaceutical Association, both of which had grown more powerful and influential in the first two decades of the twentieth century, since the medical profession had been granted a monopoly on dispensing opiates and cocaine. The Harrison Act also had the effect of imposing a stamp of illegitimacy on the use of most narcotics, fostering an image of the immoral and degenerate “dope fiend” (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970). At this time, according to Courtwright’s (1982) estimates, there were about 300,000 opiate addicts in the United States. But, he notes, the addict population was already changing. The medical profession had, by and large, abandoned its liberal use of opiates—imports of medicinal opiates declined dramatically during the first decade of the twentieth century—and the public mind, as well as that of much of the medical profession, came to associate heroin with urban vice and crime. In contrast with opiate addicts of the nineteenth century, opiate users of the twentieth century were increasingly male habitués of pool halls and bowling alleys, denizens of the underworld, and they typically used heroin (Acker 2002Kinlock; Hanlon, and Nurco 1998). As in the case of minority groups, this marginal population was an easy target of drug laws and drug law enforcement.

Drug Prohibition

Drug laws reflect the decision of some persons that other persons who wish to consume certain substances should not be permitted to act on their preferences. Nor should anyone be permitted to satisfy the desires of drug consumers by making and selling the prohibited drug…. [The] most important characteristic of the legal approach to drug use is that these consumptive and commercial activities are being regulated by force.

Source: Barnett 1987, 73.

   The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was placed in charge of upholding the Harrison Act, and in 1915, 162 collectors and agents of the Miscellaneous Division of the IRS were given the responsibility for enforcing drug laws. In 1919, the Narcotics Division was created within the Bureau of Prohibition with a staff of 170 agents and an appropriation of $270,000. The Narcotics Division, however, was tainted by its association with the notoriously inept and corrupt Prohibition Bureau and suffered from a corruption scandal of its own: “The public dissatisfaction intensified because of a scandal involving falsification of arrest records and charges relating to payoffs by, and collusion with, drug dealers” (PCOC 1986, 204). In response, in 1930 Congress removed drug enforcement from the Bureau of Prohibition and established the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) as a separate agency within the Department of the Treasury. “Although the FBN was primarily responsible for the enforcement of the Harrison Act and related drug laws, the task of preventing and interdicting the illegal importation and smuggling of drugs remained with the Bureau of Customs” (PCOC 1986, 205).

Case Law Results

In 1916, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a physician (Dr. Moy) who had provided maintenance doses of morphine to an addict (United States v. Jin Fuey Moy 241 U.S. 394). In 1919, however, the Court ruled that a prescription for morphine issued to a habitual user not under a physician’s care that was intended not to cure but to maintain the habit is not a prescription and thus violates the Harrison Act (Webb v. United States 249 U.S. 96). However, private physicians found it impossible to handle the large drug clientele that was suddenly created; they could do nothing “more than sign prescriptions” (Duster 1970, 16).

   In United States v. Behrman, the Court ruled that a physician was not entitled to prescribe large doses of proscribed drugs for self-administration even if the addict was under the physician’s care, stating: “Prescriptions in the regular course of practice did not include the indiscriminate doling out of narcotics in such quantity as charged in the indictments” (United States v. Behrman 258 U.S. 280, 289, 1922). In 1925, the Court limited the application of Behrman when it found that a physician who had prescribed small doses of drugs for the relief of an addict did not violate the Harrison Act (Linder v. United States 268 U.S. 5). In reversing the physician’s conviction, the Court distinguished between Linder and excesses shown in the case of Behrman:

  • The enormous quantities of drugs ordered, considered in connection with the recipient’s character, without explanation, seemed enough to show prohibited sales and to exclude the idea of bona fide professional activity. The opinion [in Behrman] cannot be accepted as authority for holding that a physician, who acts fide bona and according to fair medical standards, may never give an addict moderate amounts of drugs for self-administration in order to relieve conditions incident to addiction. Enforcement of the tax demands no such drastic rule, and if the Act had such scope it would certainly encounter grave constitutional guarantees.

   In fact, the powers of the Narcotics Division were clear and limited to the enforcement of registration and record-keeping regulations. “The large number of addicts who secured their drugs from physicians were excluded from the Division’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, the public’s attitude toward drug use,” notes Dickson (1977), “had not much changed with the passage of the Act—there was some opposition to drug use, some support of it, and a great many who did not care one way or the other. The Harrison Act was actually passed with very little publicity or news coverage” (39).

   Bonnie and Whitebread (1970) note the similarities between the temperance and antinarcotics movements: “Both were first directed against the evils of large scale use and only later against all use. Most of the rhetoric was the same: These euphoriants produced crime, pauperism and insanity.” However, “the temperance movement was a matter of vigorous public debate; the anti-narcotics movement was not. Temperance legislation was the product of a highly organized nationwide lobby; narcotics legislation was largely ad hoc. Temperance legislation was designed to eradicate known evils resulting from alcohol use; narcotics legislation was largely anticipatory” (976). In fact, notes Morgan (1981), comparisons between alcohol and opiates—until the nature of addiction became clear—were often favorable to opium. It was not public sentiment that led to antidrug legislation; nevertheless, the result of such legislation was an increasing public perception of the dangerousness of certain drugs (Bonnie and Whitehead 1970). As we will see, this perception was fanned by officials of the federal drug enforcement agency.

Narcotic Clinics and Enforcement

Writing in 1916, Pearce Bailey (1974, 173–174) noted that the passage of the Act “spread dismay among the heroin takers”:

  • They saw in advance the increased difficulty and expense of obtaining heroin as a result of this law; then the drug stores shut down, and the purveyors who sell heroin on the street corners and in doorways became terrified, and for a time illicit trade in the drug almost ceased… . Once the law was established the traffic was resumed, but under very different circumstances. The price of heroin soared [900 percent, and was sold in adulterated form]. This put it beyond the easy reach of the majority of adherents, most of whom do not earn more than twelve or fourteen dollars a week. Being no longer able to procure it with any money that they could lay their hands on honestly, many were forced to apply for treatment for illness brought about by result of arrest for violation of the law.

   Beginning in 1918, narcotics clinics opened in almost every major city. Information about them is sketchy (Duster 1970), and there is a great deal of controversy over their operations. While they were never very popular with the general public, most clinics were well run under medical supervision (H. W. Morgan 1981). While some clinics were guilty of a variety of abuses, the good ones enabled addicts to continue their normal lives without being drawn into the black market in drugs (Duster 1970). The troubled clinics, however, such as those in New York, where the number of patients overwhelmed the medical staff, generated a great deal of newspaper coverage, resulting in an outraged public.

   Following World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, xenophobia and prohibitionism began to sweep the nation. The United States severely restricted immigration, and alcohol and drug use was increasingly associated with an alien population. In 1922, federal narcotics agents closed the drug clinics and began to arrest physicians and pharmacists who provided drugs for maintenance. At issue was Section 8 of the Harrison Act, which permitted the possession of controlled substances if prescribed “in good faith” by a registered physician, dentist, or veterinarian in accord with “professional practice.” The law did not define “good faith” or “professional practice.” Under a policy developed by the federal narcotics agency, thousands of people, including many physicians—more than 25,000 between 1914 and 1938 (W. L. White 1998)—were charged with violations: “Whether conviction followed or not mattered little as the effects of press publicity dealing with what were supposedly willful violations of a beneficent law were most disastrous to those concerned” (Terry and Pellens 1928, 90). “Once a strict antidrug policy had been established, both the public’s and policymakers’ curiosity about the details of a drug’s biological effects faded. Federal scientists also feared their research findings might conflict with official policies, so they avoided some areas of investigation” (Musto 1998, 62).

   The medical profession withdrew from dispensing drugs to addicts, forcing them to look to illicit sources and giving rise to an enormous illegal business in drugs. People who were addicted to opium smoking eventually found their favorite drug unavailable—the bulky smoking opium was difficult to smuggle—and turned to the more readily available heroin that was prepared for intravenous use and would produce a more intense effect (Courtwright 1982). The criminal syndicates that resulted from Prohibition added heroin trafficking to their business portfolios. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, profits from bootlegging disappeared accordingly, but drug trafficking remained as an important source of revenue for organized criminal groups. (Drug trafficking is discussed in Chapter 9). Law enforcement efforts against drugs have proven as ineffectual as efforts against alcohol during Prohibition, with similar problems of corruption.

   The federal government shaped vague and conflicting court decisions into definitive pronouncements reflecting the drug enforcement agency’s own version of its proper role: “American administrative regulations took on the force of ruling law” (Trebach 1982, 132). The drug agency also embarked on a vigorous campaign to convince the public and Congress of the dangers of drugs and thereby to justify its approach to the problem of drug use. According to Bonnie and Whitebread (1970, 990), the existence of a separate federal narcotics bureau “anxious to fulfill its role as crusader against the evils of narcotics” has been the single major factor in the legislative history of drug control in the United States since 1930.

   The actions of the federal government toward drug use must be understood within the context of the times. The years immediately following World War I were characterized by pervasive attitudes of nationalism and nativism and by a fear of anarchy and communism. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, a police strike in Boston (see Russell 1975), and widespread labor unrest and violence were the backdrop for the infamous Palmer Raids of 1919, in which Attorney General A. Mitchel Palmer, disregarding a host of constitutional protections, ordered the arrest of thousands of “radicals.” That same year the Prohibition Amendment was ratified, and soon legislation ended large-scale (legal) immigration. Drug addiction—morphinism/heroinism—was added to the un-American “isms” of alcoholism, anarchism, and communism (Musto 1973). In 1918, there were only 888 federal arrests for narcotics law violations; in 1920, there were 3,477. In 1925, the year the clinics were closed, there were 10,297 (Cloyd 1982). “During the 1920s and 1930s,” notes Speaker (2001), “newspaper and magazine accounts of narcotics problems, and the propaganda of various anti-narcotics organizations used certain stock ideas and images to construct an intensely fearful public rhetoric about drugs. Authors routinely described drugs, users, and sellers as ‘evil,’ described sinister conspiracies to undermine American society and values, credited drugs with immense power to corrupt users, and called for complete eradication of the problem” (1).

   According to W. White (1998), Treasury Department opposition to prescribing drugs for addicts was based on a belief in the prevailing propaganda of the day with respect to alcohol treatment. “The Treasury Department opposed ambulatory treatment because, for many patients, it turned into sustained maintenance, and also because the remaining inebriate hospitals and asylums of the day were still boasting 95 percent success rates. After all, leaders of the Treasury Department argued, why should someone be maintained on morphine when all he or she had to do was to take the cure? It was through such misrepresentation of success rates that the inebriate asylums and private treatment sanitariums contributed inadvertently to the criminalization of narcotic addiction in the U.S.” (113).

   In 1923, legislation was introduced to curtail the importation of opium for the manufacture of heroin, resulting in a ban on heroin in the United States. (In 1956, Congress declared all heroin to be contraband.) Among the few witnesses who testified before Congress, all supported the legislation. The AMA had already condemned the use of heroin by physicians, and the substance was described as the most dangerous of all habit-forming drugs, some witnesses arguing that the psychological effects of heroin use serve as a stimulus to crime. Much of the medical testimony, in light of what is now known about heroin, was erroneous, but the law won easy passage in 1924 (Musto 1973). A pamphlet published the same year by the prestigious Foreign Policy Association summarized contemporary thinking about heroin (cited in Trebach 1982):

  • ▸ It is unnecessary in the practice of medicine.
  • ▸ It destroys all sense of moral responsibility.
  • ▸ It is the drug of the criminal.
  • ▸ It recruits its army among youths. (48)

   The use of opiates, except for narrow medical purposes, was now thoroughly criminalized, both in law and in practice. The law defined drug users as criminals, and the public viewed heroin use as the behavior of a deviant criminal class.

The Uniform Drug Act

Until 1930, efforts against drugs were primarily federal. Only a few states had drug control statutes, and these were generally ineffective (Musto 1973). At the urging of federal authorities, many states enacted their own antidrug legislation. By 1931, every state restricted the sale of cocaine, and all but two restricted the sale of opiates. State statutes, however, were far from uniform. As early as 1927, this lack of uniformity, combined with the growing hysteria about dope fiends and criminality, resulted in several requests for a uniform state narcotics law. The diversity of state drug statutes was not an anachronism. The need for greater uniformity in state statutes was recognized in the first half of the nineteenth century, when a prominent New York attorney, David Dudley Field (1805–1894), campaigned for a uniform code of procedure for both civil and criminal matters. During the 1890s the American Bar Association set up the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, whose efforts resulted in a variety of uniform codes that were adopted by virtually all jurisdictions (Abadinsky 2008).

   A uniform drug act for the states was the goal of both the Committee on the Uniform Narcotic Act and representatives of the AMA because doctors wanted uniformity of legal obligations. Their first two drafts copied a 1927 New York statute that listed coca, opium, and cannabis products as habit-forming drugs to be regulated or prohibited. Because of opposition to its inclusion on the habit-forming list, cannabis was dropped from later drafts with a note indicating that each state was free to include cannabis or not in its own legislation without affecting the rest of the act. The final draft also used the 1927 New York statute as a model and included suggestions from the newly appointed commissioner of the FBN, Harry Anslinger. The draft was adopted overwhelmingly by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, to which each governor had appointed two representatives. By 1937, thirty-five states had enacted the Uniform Drug Act, and every state had enacted statutes relating to marijuana. Despite propagandizing efforts by the FBN, “The laws went unnoticed by legal commentators, the press and the public at large” (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970, 1034).

   The lack of public concern is related to the demographics of drug use, which was concentrated in minority, lower-class areas and the criminal subculture. Before the Harrison Act there was considerable use in rural areas; the South, where drugs often substituted for alcohol in dry areas, used more opiates than other parts of the country. After the Harrison Act addicts in rural areas were attended to quietly by sympathetic doctors. Heroin was heavily concentrated in urban areas of poverty. For example, during the early decades of the twentieth century heroin use in New York was heaviest in the Jewish and Italian areas of the Lower East Side. As these two groups climbed the economic ladder and moved out, they were replaced by African Americans looking for affordable housing and this group then became the basis of the addict population (Helmer 1975). Demographics intensified the problem; African Americans had a higher birthrate than Jews and Italians, and an extraordinary number of youngsters were sixteen years old, the age of highest risk for addiction. After World War II, the white ethnic population became increasingly suburban and the inner city became increasingly black and Hispanic—a new vulnerable population in a drug-infested environment.

   Pointing to the similarities between the prohibition against alcohol and that against other drugs, David Courtwright (1982) asks why, since both reform efforts had ended in failure, did the public withdraw its support for one and increase its support of the other? “One factor (in addition to economic and political considerations) must have been that alcohol use was relatively widespread and cut across class lines. It seemed unreasonable for the government to deny a broad spectrum of otherwise normal persons access to drink. By 1930 opiate addiction, by contrast, was perceived to be concentrated in a small criminal subculture; it did not seem unreasonable for that same government to deny the morbid cravings of a deviant group” (144).

   World War II had a dramatic impact on the supply of heroin in the United States. The Japanese invasion of China interrupted supplies from that country, while the disruption of shipping routes by German submarines and attack battleships reduced the amount of heroin moving from Turkey to Marseilles to the United States. When the United States entered the war, security measures “designed to prevent infiltration of foreign spies and sabotage to naval installations made smuggling into the United States virtually impossible.” As a result, “at the end of World War II, there was an excellent chance that heroin addiction could be eliminated in the United States” (A. W. McCoy 1972, 15). Obviously, this did not happen (the reasons will be discussed later) and “by the 1980s, an estimated 500,000 Americans used illicit opioids (mainly heroin), mostly poor young minority men and women in the inner cities” (Batki et al. 2005, 13).

   The contemporary heroin market has moved well past its urban roots, becoming established in America’s suburbs where it is frequently used by adolescents (C. Buckley 2009). Sources of the drug vary, but can be grouped into three broad categories:

  • 1. Local suburban youngsters who search out heroin connections for personal use in inner-city locations. Eventually, they begin to bring additional quantities back home for sale. This phenomenon has been seen in suburban Nassau County, on New York’s Long Island (Wolvier, Martino, Jr., and Bolger 2009). “The heroin being sold on Long Island is deadlier and cheaper than ever. A bag on the street costs about $6 or $7, cheaper than a pack of cigarettes. What makes the situation even more dangerous is the misconception among users that snorting or sniffing heroin, rather than injecting it, will not lead to addiction” (“Heroin on Long Island” 2009, 22).
  • 2. Low-level urban dealers who recognize suburban locations as both lucrative and less competitive, markets they can more easily monopolize. This phenomenon has been experienced in suburbs across the Northeast (Calefati 2008).
  • 3. Mexican drug cartels that dispatch small cells to take advantage of fertile suburban markets. The cells take orders over disposable mobile phones and use a system of dispatchers to deliver the drugs to various rendezvous points such as a shopping center parking lot. Cell members, often-illegal immigrants, stay in one location for four or five months and are then rotated as replacements arrive. This has been experienced in suburban Ohio locations (Archibold 2009b). Distributors in New Jersey are targeting customers in smaller towns and rural areas to gain market share. Heroin availability has increased in Upstate New York, which has led to a corresponding increase in the number of urban and suburban youths from outlying rural counties traveling to Albany, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga Counties to obtain the drug for personal use (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009f).


Cocaine is found in significant quantities only in the leaves of two species of coca shrub that are indigenous to certain sections of South America, though they have been grown elsewhere. “For over 4,000 years among the native Andean population the coca leaf has been used in ancient rituals and for everyday gift giving. Holding spiritual, economic, and cultural significance, coca is seen as an important medium for social integration and human solidarity in the face of adverse conditions” (Wheat and Green 1999, 42). To the Incas the plant was of divine origin and was reserved for those who believed themselves descendants of the gods. In Bolivia it is drunk as mate (coca tea), and the leaves are chewed for hours by farmers and miners along with an alkaloid that helps to release the active ingredients. “The result is similar to a prolonged caffeine or tobacco buzz. But it is more than that. It improves stamina, is a sacred symbol central to community life and provides essential nutrients” (Wheat and Green 1999, 43).

   European experience with chewing coca coincided with Spanish exploration of the New World. While the early Spanish explorers, obsessed with gold, referred to coca leaf chewing with scorn, later reports about the effects of coca on Indians were more enthusiastic. Nevertheless, the chewing of coca leaves was not adopted by Europeans until the nineteenth century (Grinspoon and Bakalar 1976). A “mixture of ignorance and moral hauteur played an important role in the long delay between the time Europeans first became acquainted with cocaine—in the form of coca—and the time they began to use it” (Ashley 1975). The coca leaves tasted bitter and were favored by pagans—Peruvian Indians—“an obviously inferior lot who had allowed their great Inca Empire to be conquered by Pizarro and fewer than two hundred Spaniards” (3). Early records indicate that the effects of coca—stamina and energy—were ascribed not to the drug but to a pact the Indians had made with the devil or simply to delusion—the Indian is sustained by the belief that chewing coca gives him extra strength.

Nineteenth Century

Alkaloidal cocaine was isolated from the coca leaf by German scientists in the decade before the American Civil War, and the German chemical manufacturer Merck began to produce small amounts (Karch 1998). Scientists experimenting with the substance noted that it showed promise as a local anesthetic and had an effect opposite that caused by morphine. Indeed, at first cocaine was used to treat morphine addiction, but the result was often a morphine addict who was also dependent on cocaine (Van Dyke and Byck 1982). Enthusiasm for cocaine spread across the United States, and by the late 1880s a feel-good pharmacology based on the coca plant and its derivative cocaine emerged, as the substance was hawked for everything from headaches to hysteria. “Catarrh powders for sinus trouble and headaches—a few were nearly pure cocaine—introduced the concept of snorting” (Gomez 1984, 58). Patent medicines frequently contained significant amounts of cocaine

   One very popular product was the coca wine Vin Mariani, which contained two ounces of fresh coca leaves in a pint of Bordeaux wine; another, Peruvian Wine of Coca, was available for $1 a bottle through the 1902 Sears, Roebuck catalog. The most famous beverage containing coca, however, was first bottled in 1894, and an advertisement for Coca-Cola in Scientific American in 1906 publicized the use of coca as an important tonic in this “healthful drink” (May 1988b, 29). A 1908 government report listed more than forty brands of soft drinks containing cocaine (Helmer 1975). In contrast to the patent medicines, however, these beverages, including wine and Coca-Cola, contained only small, typically trivial, amounts of cocaine (Karch 1998).

   In 1884, Sigmund Freud began taking cocaine and soon afterward began to treat his friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who had become a morphine addict, with cocaine. The following year, von Fleischl-Marxow suffered from toxic psychosis as a result of taking increasing amounts of cocaine by subcutaneous injection, and Freud wrote that the misuse of the substance had hastened his friend’s death. Although Freud continued the recreational use of cocaine as late as 1895, his enthusiasm for its therapeutic value waned (Byck 1974). Influenced by the writings of Sigmund Freud on cocaine, William Stewart Halstead, surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the “father of American surgery,” began experimenting with the substance in 1884. When he died in 1922 at age 70, Dr. Halstead was still addicted to cocaine despite numerous attempts at curing himself (W. L. White 1998).

   After the flush of enthusiasm for cocaine in the 1880s, its direct use declined. Cocaine continued to be used in a variety of potions and tonics, but unlike morphine and heroin, it did not develop a separate appeal (H. W. Morgan 1981). Indeed, it gained a reputation for inducing bizarre and unpredictable behavior.

Cocaine in the Twentieth Century

After the turn of the century, cocaine, like heroin, became identified with the urban underworld and, in the South, with African Americans. “As with Chinese opium, southern blacks became a target for class conflict, and drug use became one point of tension in this larger sociopolitical struggle” (Cloyd 1982, 35). The campaign against cocaine took on bizarre aspects aimed at winning support for antidrug legislation among Southern politicians, who traditionally resisted federal efforts that interfered with their concept of states’ rights. Without any research support, a spate of articles alleged widespread use of cocaine by African Americans, often associating such use with violence and the rape of white women (Helmer 1975). Ultimately, notes Jerald Cloyd (1982, 54), “Southerners were more afraid of African-Americans than of increased federal power to regulate these drugs.” At the time of the Harrison Act there was considerable discussion—but no evidence—of substantial cocaine use by blacks in Northern cities (H. W. Morgan 1981).

   As with opiates, the legal use of cocaine was affected by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and finally by the Harrison Act in 1914. Before this federal legislation many states passed laws restricting the sale of cocaine, beginning with Oregon in 1887. By 1914, forty-six states had such laws, while only twenty-nine had similar laws with respect to opiates (Grinspoon and Bakalar 1976). With its dangers well known, by the end of World War I, the medical community had largely lost interest in cocaine (Karch 1998), and in 1922 Congress officially defined cocaine as a narcotic and prohibited the importation of most cocaine and coca leaves. This caused an increase in law enforcement efforts, and the price of cocaine increased accordingly. In 1932, amphetamines became available, and this cheap, legal stimulant helped to further decrease user interest in cocaine (Cintron 1986).

   In the United States, from 1930 until the 1960s, there was limited demand for cocaine and, accordingly, only limited supply. Cocaine use was associated with deviants at the fringes of society—jazz musicians and the denizens of underworld—and sources were typically diverted from medical supplies. During the late 1960s and early 1970s attitudes toward recreational drug use became more liberal because of the wide acceptance of marijuana. Cocaine was no longer associated with deviants, and the media played a significant role in shaping public attitudes:

  • By publicizing and glamorizing the lifestyle of affluent, upper-class drug dealers and the use of cocaine by celebrities and athletes, all forms of mass media created an effective advertising campaign for cocaine, and many people were taught to perceive cocaine as chic, exclusive, daring, and nonaddicting. In television specials about cocaine use, scientists talked about the intense euphoria produced by cocaine and the compulsive craving that people (and animals) develop for it. Thus, an image of cocaine as being extraordinarily powerful, and a (therefore desirable) euphoriant was promoted. (Wesson and Smith 1985, 193)

   Cocaine became associated with a privileged elite, and the new demand was sufficient to generate new sources. Refining and marketing networks outside of medical channels led to the development of the Latin American criminal organizations discussed in Chapter 9.

   During the 1980s, a new form of cocaine-called crack—became popular in a number of cities, particularly New York. Its popularity dramatically altered the drug market at the consumer level: Both users and sellers were much younger than was typical in the heroin business. Younger retailers and a competitive market increased the level of violence associated with the drug business. The appearance of this new form of cocaine, which is smoked, set off a frenzy of media interest. Elected officials responded by increasing penalties for this form of the substance as opposed to the powdered form, which is typically sniffed—a drug scare.

   Steven Belenko (1993) reports that drug scares have four common elements:

  • 1. The scope of the problem is never as great as originally portrayed in the media.
  • 2. Despite the media portrayals, compulsive use and addiction are not inevitable consequences of using the drug.
  • 3. The violent behavior associated with the use of the drug is not as common as initially believed, nor is it necessarily caused by the drug.
  • 4. The popularity of the particular drug waxes and wanes over time, and prevalence rates do not continue to increase. (24)

   By 1987, the rapid expansion of crack use stopped, and by 1989 its popularity began to diminish. The hysteria with which the media and public officials had greeted this “new scourge” was subjected to research and reflection: “Crack itself was never instantly addictive or totally devastating as asserted by the media, political speeches, and statements of public policy. In particular, it did not draw the naive and young in droves into this new and dangerous lifestyle.” Indeed, crack use was centered in those populations in which drug use has always been endemic: the urban underclass (B. D. Johnson, Golub, and Fagan 1995, 291).

   Cocaine has very limited medical use as a local anesthetic for ear, nose, and throat surgery. Its early use, however, led to the development of procaine (Novocain), which in 1905 was introduced into medicine and continues to be used today, particularly in dentistry (Snyder 1986). Novocain and other synthetic drugs have, for the most part, replaced cocaine as a local anesthetic. Coca leaves are legally imported into the United States by a single chemical company, which extracts the cocaine for pharmaceutical purposes. The remaining leaf material, which contains no psychoactive agents, is prepared as a flavoring for Coca-Cola.


Cannabis sativa L., the hemp plant from which marijuana and hashish are derived, grows wild throughout most tropical and temperate regions of the world; it has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years for a variety of purposes including the manufacture of rope and paint. There is interest in the cultivation of hemp for its fiber, particularly in the American apparel and paper industries.

   Marijuana’s use as an intoxicant was brought to Africa by Arab traders, and the plant was introduced into Brazil through the slave trade in the 1600s. The word marijuana (sometimes spelled “marihuana”) is derived from the Spanish term for any substance that produces intoxication: maraguano. Until the early 1900s, recreational use of marijuana was popular chiefly among Mexican laborers in the Southwest and certain fringe groups such as jazz musicians (Weisheit 1990).

   In the past, most of the cannabis growing wild in the United States derived from plants originally cultivated for their fiber rather than their drug content, so their psychoactive potency was quite weak (Peterson 1980). Entrepreneurial horticulturists in the United States now produce more powerful strains of the plant.

Early Marijuana Legislation and Literature

Bonnie and Whitebread (1970) state that the most prominent influence in marijuana legislation was racism: State laws against marijuana, they argue, were often part of a reaction to Mexican immigration. Before 1930, sixteen states with relatively large Mexican populations had enacted anti-marijuana legislation. “Chicanos in the Southwest were believed to be incited to violence by smoking it” (Musto 1973, 65). Jerome Himmelstein (1983) argues, however, that the “crucial link between Mexicans and federal marihuana policy was not locally based political pressure from the Southwest, but a specific image of marihuana that emerged from the context of marihuana use by Mexicans and was used to justify anti-marihuana legislation. Because Mexican laborers and other lower-class groups were identified as typical marihuana users, the drug was believed to cause the kinds of antisocial behavior associated with those groups, especially violent crime” (29). Because of marijuana’s association with suspect marginal groups—Mexicans, artists, intellectuals, jazz musicians, bohemians, and petty criminals—it became an easy target for regulation (Morgan 1981). In the eastern United States, marijuana was erroneously believed to be addictive and there was fear that it would serve as a substitute for narcotics that were outlawed by the Harrison Act.

   In light of more contemporary research into marijuana, the hysterical anti-marijuana literature that was produced during the 1930s can often seem amusing. Rowell and Rowell (1939) wrote, for example, that marijuana “seems to superimpose upon the user’s character and personality a devilish form. He is one individual when normal, and an entirely different one after using marijuana” (49). According to these authors, marijuana “has led to some of the most revolting cases of sadistic rape and murder of modern times.” In 1936, the FBN presented a summary of cases that illustrate “the homicidal tendencies and the generally debasing effects which arise from the use of marijuana” (Uelmen and Haddox 1983, 11). The 1936 motion picture Reefer Madness showed a horrifying portrait of the marijuana user and was often featured at college marijuana parties during the 1960s.

   “It is clear,” note Bonnie and Whitebread (1970, 1021–1022), “that no state undertook any empirical or scientific study of the effects of the drug. Instead they relied on lurid and often unfounded accounts of marijuana’s dangers as presented in what little newspaper coverage the drug received.” By 1931, twenty-two states had marijuana legislation that was often part of a general-purpose statute against narcotics (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970). Despite its being outlawed, marijuana was never an important issue in the United States until the 1960s: “It hardly ever made headlines or became the subject of highly publicized hearings and reports. Few persons knew or cared about it, and marihuana laws were passed with minimal attention” (Himmelstein 1983, 38).

   The FBN, operating on a Depression era budget, was reluctant to take on the additional responsibilities that would result from outlawing marijuana at the federal level. Harry J. Anslinger, FBN commissioner from 1930 until his retirement in 1962, hoped that the states would act against marijuana, leaving the bureau free to concentrate on heroin and cocaine. To get the states to act, the FBN dramatized the dangers of marijuana. But in such trying economic times, the states were reluctant to take on additional work, and the FBN’s own propaganda forced it to act (Himmelstein 1983).

   At the urging of Anslinger, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Because of uncertainty about the federal government’s ability to outlaw marijuana, the act placed an exorbitant tax on cannabis—$100 an ounce—rather than prohibiting the substance outright. This tax act was a result of three days of congressional hearings that Bonnie and Whitebread (1970, 1054) characterize as “a case study in legislative carelessness.” Commissioner Anslinger was able to orchestrate an undocumented and hysterical presentation before the House Ways and Means Committee on the dangers of marijuana, and the floor debate on the bill, Bonnie and Whitebread argue, represented a near-comic example of dereliction of legislative responsibility. Anslinger and Tompkins (1953) maintained that marijuana was “a scourge which undermines its victims and degrades them mentally, morally, and physically” (20–21). The AMA’s opposition to the bill was ridiculed by members of the Ways and Means Committee. Marijuana was being treated as just another narcotic (Bonnie and Whitebread 1970). The states followed the federal lead and increased their penalties for drug violations, including marijuana. In 1951, penalties for possession and trafficking in marijuana were substantially increased— along with those for other controlled substances—with the passage of the Boggs Act (discussed below).

Counterculture Use and Changing Laws

During the 1960s, public attitudes toward marijuana underwent considerable change. A nonconformist counterculture, whose members were often from the white middle class, emerged. The rebellious nature of the hippies encouraged greater experimentation with sex and drugs, marijuana in particular. In fact, note Lidz and Walker (1980), marijuana use helped to tie together diverse interests: civil rights, antiwar, and antiestablishment groups and individuals. Its primary importance was as a membership ritual for an otherwise very diffuse and disorganized culture. No longer confined to minority or subcultural groups—Chicanos, African Americans, beatniks, musicians—marijuana soon found widespread acceptance among people of the middle and upper classes. This led to significant scientific inquiry into the effects of marijuana, and toward the latter part of the 1960s it became clear that whatever its dangers might be, the substance was simply not in the same class as heroin or cocaine on any important pharmacological dimension. Young, white, middle-class users, however, like their ghetto counterparts, were being subjected to the significant penalties that obtained for heroin and cocaine.

   The rise of middle-class marijuana users offered the public a new view of the phenomenon in Lifemagazine’s October 31, 1969, issue. Marijuana was the lead story, and the magazine presented photographs of white, middle-class people enjoying marijuana in a variety of congenial social settings. Also included was an in-depth story of a young man from Nashville, Tennessee, a long-distance runner and prep school graduate attending the University of Virginia on an athletic scholarship. He was arrested for possession of three pounds of marijuana and in a Virginia state court received a sentence of twenty years in prison. The same issue of Life contains an article by the former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), James L. Goddard (1969), who stated: “Our laws governing marijuana are a mixture of bad science and poor understanding of the role of law as a deterrent force. They are unenforceable, excessively severe, scientifically incorrect and revealing our ignorance of human behavior” (34). The following year Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and R. Sargent Shriver III, juveniles at the time, were arrested for possession of marijuana. Public pressure soon caused legislators to reconsider state and federal penalties for marijuana.

   “As of 1965, marihuana laws still bore the mark of the harsh legislation of the 1950s. Simple possession carried penalties of two years for the first offense, five for the second, and ten for the third” (Himmelstein 1983, 103). By the end of the 1960s, penalties on the state level had been significantly reduced. However, the Comprehensive Drug Use Prevention and Control Act of 1970 established five schedules for controlled substances, and marijuana, along with heroin, was placed in the highest category, Schedule I.

   In 1972, the presidentially appointed National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Use recommended that possession of marijuana for personal use or noncommercial distribution be decriminalized. The following year Oregon became the first state to abolish criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, replacing incarceration with relatively small fines. In 1975 California made possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a citable misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $100, and there were no increased penalties for recidivists. By 1978, eleven states had decriminalized marijuana. Despite vigorous opposition at the federal level, a number of states authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana.


Manufactured under the trade name Benzedrine, in 1932 amphetamine was marketed as an inhalant, and subsequently in tablet form, for use as a nasal decongestant. It was introduced into clinical use during the 1930s and eventually offered as a “cure-all” for just about every ailment. Between 1932 and 1946, there were thirty-nine generally accepted medical uses for amphetamines, including the treatment of schizophrenia, morphine addiction, low blood pressure, and caffeine and tobacco dependence (D. E. Smith 1979). “Amphetamines were unique: never before had a powerful psychoactive drug been introduced in such quantities in so short a period of time, and never before had a drug with such a high addictive potential and capability of causing long-term or irreversible physical and psychological damage been so enthusiastically embraced by the medical profession as a panacea or so extravagantly promoted by the drug industry” (Grinspoon and Hedblom 1975, 13).

   By the end of the decade, as their stimulating properties became widely known, amphetamines were used primarily as analeptics—stimulating drugs. Many amphetamine-based inhalants appeared on the market and were widely available without prescription. These quickly became the subject of widespread use. During World War II, British, German, and Japanese governments issued amphetamines to soldiers to elevate mood and to counteract fatigue and pain, and U.S. military personnel were exposed to their use through contact with the British military. During the Korean conflict the United States authorized the distribution of amphetamines to military personnel. The first major wave of use appeared when American servicemen in Korea and Japan mixed the substance with heroin to create “speedballs,” which were taken intravenously (Grinspoon and Hedblom 1975).

   Amphetamines were widely prescribed in the 1950s and 1960s as an aid in dieting, leading to use by housewives taking “diet pills.” Ralph Weisheit and William White (2009, 29) note that a surge in amphetamine use in the United States began with a core of people exposed through medicine or the military and then “spread outward into the mainstream population through new forms of the drug, excessive drug supply (from overproduction), and overprescribing.” “Pep pills” moved from the beatnik subculture, to students and long-distance truck drivers as an aid in staying awake, and then to the wider population.

   In the 1960s, the FDA launched a widespread anti-amphetamine campaign with the slogan “Speed Kills” (R. O’Brien and Cohen 1984); in 1971, federal laws restricted the conditions under which amphetamines could be prescribed. During the late 1980s, the smokable crystal methamphetamine, called ice, appeared on the drug scene. Media and political concern over the possible spread of this new form of drug led to a new drug scare. Widespread use continues, particularly in more rural parts of the country where the drug is often manufactured.


Barbiturates are sedating drugs synthesized from barbituric acid. Barbituric acid was first synthesized in Germany in 1863 by Nobel Prize–winning chemist Adolf von Baeyer. The first barbiturate was synthesized in 1882 but not marketed until 1903 (McKim 1991). Accounts vary as to how barbituric acid acquired its name. In 1903, it was released under the trade name Veronal, a name derived from the Italian city of Verona. It is known generically in the United States as barbital (Wesson and Smith 1977).

   Barbiturates were used to induce sleep, replacing other aids such as alcohol and opiates. Since the appearance of phenobarbital in 1912, thousands of barbituric acid derivatives have been synthesized, although only about a dozen are commonly used; these are marketed under a variety of brand names. Barbiturates were widely prescribed in the United States during the 1930s, when their toxic effects were not fully understood. By 1942 there were campaigns against the nonmedical use of barbiturates, and by the 1950s barbiturates were one of the major drugs of abuse among adults in the United States. In the 1960s, barbiturate use quickly spread to the youth population (R. O’Brien and Cohen 1984). Nonmedical use of barbiturates is usually the result of diverting licit supplies through theft or burglary, forged prescriptions, or illegal manufacture in other countries, particularly Mexico. Supplies diverted from licit sources may be repackaged in nondescript capsules, thus disguising their source (Wesson and Smith 1977).

Tranquilizers and Sedatives

Along with amphetamines and barbiturates, many doctors in the 1960s routinely prescribed a variety of substances to reduce anxiety. Tranquilizers or sedatives, such as Miltown and Valium, enabled millions of housewives to “get by with a little help from their friends.” These substances were the subject of heavy advertising, much of it depicting women in need of relief from tension and anxiety, by drug companies that offered their products as aids in coping with the normal problems of life. Consumers often became so dependent on these substances that they could not function without them, having lost the ability to deal with normal levels of stress. As a result of unfavorable attention by health and consumer organizations and a congressional hearing in 1979, the manufacturers of Valium and other tranquilizers shifted their focus to promote these substances’ ability to ease the stress of modern living. In 1980, the FDA required tranquilizers to be labeled as generally not appropriate for anxiety or tension associated with the stress of everyday life.


Hallucinogens such as LSD became popular during the 1960s, particularly among rebellious college students and people who identified themselves as antiestablishment. Lester Grinspoon (1979) states: “It is impossible to write an adequate history of such an amorphous phenomenon [LSD] without discussing the whole cultural rebellion of the 1960s” (57). LSD was first synthesized in Switzerland in 1938, but its hallucinogenic qualities did not become apparent until its discoverer took his first “trip” in 1943.

   Between 1949 and 1962, the LSD became the focus of research in the United States among a small number of psychiatrists and psychologists for treating psychiatric disorders (Brecher 1972Stevens 1987). The U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency, too, were also interested in this research as well as conducting LSD experiments on soldiers and civilians, usually without their knowledge or consent, to test its suitability for chemical warfare and as a “truth serum” (Henderson 1994a).

   Two psychologists, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert of Harvard experimented with the hallucinogenic mushroom psilocybin. While the “Psilo-cybin Project” began as a scientific endeavor, it ended as casual use of the drug by many friends and acquaintances, including a small clique of psychedelic enthusiasts such as the authors Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and the poet Allen Ginsberg (see Wolfe [1968] for a look at Kesey and his Merry Pranksters’ psychedelic world). Leary began encouraging his psychology students to use psilocybin. Word of their activities spread beyond the Harvard community when it was picked up by newspapers as a result of a story in the Harvard Crimson. Federal agencies began making inquiries. School officials were anxious to rid themselves of Leary and Alpert, so their research and control over psilocybin were placed under a faculty committee while the school awaited the expiration of Leary and Alpert’s teaching contracts. No matter, they had been introduced to LSD.

   In 1963, an editorial attacking LSD appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and in 1965 LSD was outlawed in the United States. Nevertheless, Leary popularized the use of LSD, and as a result of his Harvard connection, LSD gained the attention of the mass media (Grinspoon 1979). As a self-appointed High Priest of LSD (the title of Leary’s book), he traveled widely and lectured on the virtues of using acid to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” LSD use became part of the counterculture and the antiwar movement and “in a major city like Los Angeles,” notes Jay Stevens (1987), “it was as easy to go on an LSD trip as it was to visit Disneyland” (171). “Acid rock” songs such as “White Rabbit” by the Jefferson Airplane, “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan, and the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” became top hits.

Government Action after World War II

In the years immediately before World War II, the FBN seemed to have the drug problem well under control. Commissioner Anslinger released statistics indicating a significant drop in the addict population. Then came the war. Opiate smuggling dwindled, and Americans of an age most susceptible to drug use were in Europe and Asia. Drug use was viewed as unpatriotic as well as illegal. Alcohol, barbiturates, and amphetamines were the substances most widely used during the war years, when the price of opiates increased dramatically. The addict population appeared to reach an all-time low.

   At the end of the war, there was fear of an epidemic of drug use as U.S. soldiers began to return from Far Eastern locations where opiate use was endemic. The epidemic failed to materialize. The FBN became a victim of its own propaganda and apparent success, and Congress would not increase the drug-fighting budget (H. W. Morgan 1981). Then, in 1950 and 1951, a spate of news stories on drug use reported that the use of heroin was spilling out of the ghetto and into middle-class environs, where it was poisoning the minds and bodies of America’s (white) youth. Musto (1973) points out a parallel between the periods following World War I and World War II: Both were characterized by an atmosphere of hostility to radicals and Communists, and both led to punitive sanctions against drug addicts. Any expression of tolerance for radical political ideas or drug addicts was un-American. In a timely stroke of political genius, the FBN linked heroin trafficking to Red China.

   Anslinger accused the People’s Republic of China of selling opium and heroin to the free nations of the world to finance overseas ambitions (Cloyd 1982). As we shall see in Chapter 9, Far Eastern heroin was, and continues to be, the business of Chinese Nationalists, triads, Thais, and Burmese insurgents—not the People’s Republic, which routinely executes drug traffickers. Indeed, “at the time of the Communist takeover in 1949, China was the world’s largest producer and consumer of narcotic drugs” (Lee 1995, 194). The 1949 takeover of the Chinese mainland by the forces of Mao Zedong and the Communist Party eventually led in the elimination of domestic opium production in China.

   On the basis of statistics showing that between 1946 and 1950, there had been a 100 percent increase in the number of arrests related to narcotics laws and that over a five-year period the average age of people committed to Public Health Service hospitals had declined from 37.5 to 26.7 years, Congress concluded that drug addiction was increasing and that penalties for drug trafficking were inadequate. In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which increased penalties for violations of drug laws. Once again, using rather dubious statistical data, Congress concluded that the increased penalties of the Boggs Act had been quite successful in reducing drug trafficking. As a result, in 1956 Congress passed the Narcotic Control Act, which further increased the penalties for drug violations, for example, the sale of heroin to individuals under 18 years of age was made a capital offense; the Act also increased the authority of the FBN and agents of the Customs Bureau (PCOC 1986). State legislatures, responding to the federal initiative, significantly increased penalties for drug violations.

   “Public concern over the problem of drug use, which had been relatively dormant during the 1940s and 1950s, flared again during the 1960s. The intensification of national concern resulted in increasing pressure for federal initiatives in the area. In response to this development, a White House Conference on Narcotics and Drug Use was convened in 1962, which resulted in the establishment of the President’s Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Use (Prettyman Commission) on January 15, 1963” (PCOC 1986, 215). The commission recommended discarding the antiquated legal notion that drug control was simply a taxing measure, and they suggested that the responsibilities of the FBN be transferred to the Department of Justice. On the other hand, the commission recommended that the regulation of marijuana and lawful narcotic drugs be transferred from the FBN to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). It also recommended increasing the number of federal drug agents and enacting legislation for the strict control of nonnarcotic drugs capable of producing psychotoxic effects when used.

   In the 1960s, concern increased over the diversion of dangerous drugs from licit sources. As a result, Congress passed the Drug Use Control Amendments of 1965, which, among other things, mandated record-keeping and inspection requirements for depressant and stimulant drugs throughout the chain of distribution, from the basic manufacturer to (but not including) the consumer. Enforcement of the 1965 legislation was left to a newly created agency within HEW’s Food and Drug Administration: the Bureau of Drug Use Control. The Treasury Department’s monopoly over drug enforcement had ended (PCOC 1986).

A Turn toward Treatment

During the 1960s the medical profession began to reassert itself on the issue of drug use in both treatment and research. Treating disciplines—psychology and social work—and researchers in sociology and public health began to focus on the drug issue as a social problem, not simply a law enforcement problem. The social activism of the 1960s also influenced the perspective on drug use (H. W. Morgan 1981), and a new strategic approach was implemented: reducing demand by rehabilitating large numbers of drug addicts. Arnold Trebach (1982) argues that this approach was facilitated by the resignation of Harry Anslinger as commissioner of the FBN, “which had been accomplished with the active encouragement of the Kennedy brothers [i.e., President John F. and Attorney General Robert F.]” (226). Harry Giordano, a pharmacist and Anslinger’s replacement, shifted drug policy away from a law enforcement model toward a treatment model. The 1963 Prettyman Commission recommended the relaxation of mandatory prison sentences for drug convictions, greater research, and the dismantling of the FBN, whose functions were to be divided between HEW (prevention and treatment), and the Department of Justice (law enforcement).

   In 1961, California established a civil commitment program in which drug addicts were taken into custody and committed—like mentally ill people in need of hospitalization—to a nonpunitive period of confinement and drug treatment. Confinement was followed by a period of aftercare (parole supervision). In 1966, New York established the Narcotic Addiction Control Commission, a large-scale effort whose goal was to confine as many drug addicts as possible under civil commitment statutes. As in California, whose lead New York was following, confinement was followed by a period of parole supervision. (This writer was employed briefly as a senior narcotics parole officer for the Narcotic Addiction Control Commission. This agency, which expended billions of dollars, was dismantled during the 1970s as a very costly failure.)

   Also in 1966, Congress passed the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act, which in lieu of prosecution authorized federal district courts to order the voluntary and involuntary civil commitment of certain defendants who were found to be drug addicts and mandated the Surgeon General to establish rehabilitation and posthospitalization care programs for drug addicts. The legislation also authorized the financing of state efforts to treat addicts.

   Between 1969 and 1974 the number of federally funded drug rehabilitation programs dramatically increased from sixteen at the beginning of 1969 to 926 in 1974. Federal expenditures on drug treatment rose from about $80 million to about $800 million during that period. About half of the 80,000 clients in these programs were being maintained on methadone (Moss 1977).

Comprehensive Drug Use Prevention and Control Act of 1970

As the end of the 1960s approached, alarming statistics of dubious validity about drug use appeared. The drug problem soon became a major political issue. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson decried the fragmented approach to drug law enforcement. With congressional approval, the President abolished the FBN and the Bureau of Drug Use Control and transferred their responsibilities to a newly created agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), in the Department of Justice. Revenue and importation aspects of drug trafficking remained within the IRS and Bureau of Customs. In 1970, President Richard Nixon clarified the responsibilities of the federal agencies involved in drug control, announcing that BNDD “controls all investigations involving violations of the laws of the United States relating to narcotics, marijuana and dangerous drugs, both within the United States and beyond its borders.” Several months later guidelines were promulgated that provided increased authority for customs officials at ports and borders.

   The two-pronged approach to dealing with drug use—reducing availability by investigating and prosecuting traffickers and reducing demand by preventing addiction and treating addicts—was now firm policy. The Comprehensive Drug Use Prevention and Control Act of 1970 authorized HEW to increase its efforts at prevention and rehabilitation through a program of grants to special projects and made the HEW National Institute on Drug Use, the agency with primary responsibility for drug education and prevention activities. The legislation also established five schedules into which all controlled substances could be placed according to their potential for use, imposed additional reporting requirements for manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers; promulgated new regulations for the importation of controlled substances; and established the Commission on Marijuana and Drug Use.

   The 1970 legislation represented a new legal approach to federal drug policy. It was predicated not on the constitutional power to tax, but on federal authority over interstate commerce. The President’s Commission on Organized Crime (1986) notes that this shift had enormous implications for the way in which the federal government would approach drug enforcement in the future. The act “set the stage for an innovation in federal drug law enforcement techniques. That innovation was the assigning of large numbers of federal narcotic agents to work in local communities. No longer was it necessary to demonstrate interstate traffic to justify federal participation in combating illegal drug use” (228). The new approach was upheld by decisions of the Supreme Court, and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted a model act based on the 1970 statutes, which has been adopted by most states.

   A 1973 reorganization plan led to the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) within the Department of Justice. All investigative and enforcement responsibilities for drug control, except those related to ports of entry and borders, were given over to the new agency. In 1982, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was given concurrent jurisdiction with the DEA for drug investigation and law enforcement. In addition, the DEA director was required to report to the director of the FBI, who was given responsibility for supervising drug law enforcement efforts and policies. That same year the Department of Defense Authorization Act contained a provision outlining military cooperation with civilian authorities. This provision was aimed at improving the level of cooperation by delineating precisely what assistance military commanders could provide. It also permits military personnel to operate military equipment that had been loaned to civilian drug enforcement agencies (PCOC 1986).

Drug Scare of the 1980s

As 1980 approached, the lack of public interest in and even tolerance of drug use began to shift as grassroots parent groups began to influence the political landscape. A mother “who later presided over the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, attended a rock concert in 1978 with her two young children and discovered rampant drug use all around them. Her anger, shared by others she contacted, apparently was a major factor in the defeat of her Congressman, … who had sponsored a bill favoring the decriminalization of an ounce of marijuana. That a broad base of parents were antagonistic to drugs and that they were now organizing their political power had been demonstrated” (Musto 1987, 271). With encouragement from Dr. Robert L. DuPont, then director of the National Institute on Drug Use, an “antipot” handbook for parents was published. The antidrug theme was soon picked up by the Reagan Administration.

   The issue of drug abuse is politically safe and useful because no one is in favor of it. During the presidency of Ronald Reagan, drugs again became a major political issue. On June 19, 1986, Len Bias, a basketball star from the University of Maryland, died of a cocaine overdose; on June 27, Don Rogers, a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, also died of a cocaine overdose. These widely reported incidents, occurring within a short time of each other and less than five months before congressional elections, led to an intensification of antidrug efforts, a widespread public relations effort utilizing sports and entertainment personalities whose message to television viewers was “Just Say No!” (to drugs). Not to be outdone, Congress responded with huge allocations to combat this scourge, and politicians scrambled for partisan advantage. “Len Bias’ death brought together the political and human aspects of drug use. His death accentuated that attention placed on drugs after the announcement of the ‘war on drugs.’ Although consensus about the need to ‘do something’ was generally accepted, politicians continued to argue over the best approach” (Merriam 1989, 25).

   The fight against drugs and drug use was an important issue in the presidential campaign of 1988. The heat of the national campaign led to the enactment of an omnibus drug bill (the Anti-Drug Use Act of 1988) in the final days of the 100th Congress. The legislation states: “It is the declared policy of the United States Government to create a Drug-Free America by 1995.” The statute mandated greater controls over precursor chemicals and devices used to manufacture drugs, such as encapsulating machinery. It also created a complex and extensive body of civil penalties aimed at casual users, including fines and ineligibility for federal benefits such as educational loans and mortgage guarantees and/or the loss of a maritime, pilot, or stockbroker license for a number of years. Penalties were enhanced for selling drugs to minors, and a judge was empowered to impose the death penalty for murders committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise or for the murder of a law enforcement officer during an arrest for a drug-related felony.

   The legislation also established the Office of National Drug Control Policy headed by a director (“drug czar”) appointed by the President. The director is charged with coordinating federal drug supply reduction efforts, including international control, intelligence, interdiction, domestic drug law enforcement, treatment, education, and research, and serves as a liaison between the federal government and state and local drug control efforts. The first director was William J. Bennett, who served as drug czar for twenty-two months, using the position primarily as a rhetorical platform to focus attention on the issue of drug use as seen by the administration. His approach attracted extensive media attention, but the powers of the director are so circumscribed that he accomplished little else.

   The medical profession returned to a role in responding to drug use and addiction medicine grew rapidly between the 1960s and 1980s, largely due to the efforts of physicians from New York, California, and Georgia—many were themselves recovering addicts (Freed 2007). Their efforts led to the establishment of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Psychiatrists responded that substance use was often part of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder—comorbidity—that they were uniquely qualified to treat and in 1985, psychiatrists established what is now known as the Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. In 1991, addiction psychiatry became a board-recognized subspecialty under the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (Freed 2007). In 1989, the American Society of Addiction Medicine was admitted to the American Medical Association (AMA) and in 1990 the AMA added addiction medicine to its list of designated specialties.

The Twenty-First Century

The 1990s began a remarkable period of a lack of political interest in drug use. Indeed, as officials began to recognize the extent of prison overcrowding resulting from state and federal drug policies, statutory and administrative remedies were formulated that placed more drug offenders in diversion or drug treatment programs, on probation, and on parole. Laws providing significantly greater prison sentences for the sellers of crack cocaine than for sellers of powdered cocaine came under fire because the former substance is more likely to be used by minorities, the latter by middle-class whites. There is a mandatory five-year minimum for selling 5 grams of crack or 500 grams of powdered cocaine and ten years for selling 50 grams of crack or 5,000 grams of powdered cocaine.

   With the new century, the use of methamphetamine increased, with new supplies coming from Mexico. In some areas methamphetamine became as popular as cocaine. The twenty-first century, too, saw a rise in the use of methamphetamine in rural parts of the United States, while in urban areas crack use has ceased to be an epidemic. Concern over the nonmedical use of prescription medicine has led the government to focus on that problem.

   Marijuana has and still remains readily available, and both its use and sale transcend ethnic, racial, and gender boundaries. Its legalization, too, as well as medical marijuana are common topics in the mainstream media.

   While cocaine still remained the dominant (illegal) drug, heroin, prepared for smoking and snorting, made a comeback, particularly outside its typical core clientele, the urban poor. This revival, which was fueled by the availability of high-grade heroin, particularly from Colombia, is following a pattern set by cocaine in the 1970s. The abundance of heroin is reflected in the purity levels found at the retail level.

Chapter Summary

  • 1. Know the popular prejudices against racial and ethnic groups that determined drug policy:
    • • Race, religion, and ethnicity have been closely identified with the reaction to drugs in the United States: the Irish and alcohol; the Chinese and opium; African-Americans and cocaine; and, finally, Mexicans and marijuana.
    • • Opposition to alcohol was often intertwined with nativism, and efforts against alcohol and other psychoactive drugs were often a thinly veiled reaction to minority groups.
  • 2. Know the history of Prohibition:
    • • The organized movement to prohibit alcohol dates back to 1808.
    • • The abstinence/prohibition view differs from the modern alcoholism movement in that it maintained that alcohol is inevitably dangerous for everyone.
    • • Big business was also interested in prohibition. Alcohol contributed to industrial inefficiency, labor strife, and the saloon, which served the interests of urban machine politics.
    • • Prohibition became effective in 1920 and that year the Volstead Act provided for federal enforcement.
    • • Primary resistance to Prohibition resulted in disregard for laws in general—negative contagion.
    • • Prohibition served to make organized crime a potent force.
    • • When Prohibition ended, criminal organizations became involved in the drug trade.
  • 3. Understand why policy toward opiates did not change until 1914:
    • • During the second half of the nineteenth century, morphine and heroin were widely available.
    • • Opiates were the primary ingredient in many “patent medicines.”
    • • The publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906 led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and an end to the patent medicine industry.
    • • During the nineteenth century, opiates were not associated with crime in the public mind.
    • • Beginning in 1898, heroin was marketed as a safe, nonaddictive substitute for morphine.
    • • The outlawing of the nonmedical use of opiates was a result of the Opium Wars.
    • • The international U.S. response to drugs in the twentieth century is directly related to trade with China.
    • • Foreign, not domestic, issues led to the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914 curtailing the nonmedical use of opiates and coca products.
    • • The Harrison Act represented this country’s attempt to carry out the provisions of the Hague Convention.
    • • Concern with federalism led Congress to use the taxing authority of the federal government to control drugs.
    • • The outlawing of the nonmedical use of opiates resulted in a changed view of opiate users.
    • • Supreme Court decisions found that a doctor who prescribed small doses of drugs for the relief of an addict did not violate the Harrison Act.
    • • Despite Court decisions, federal drug enforcement arrested doctors who prescribed narcotics for addicts and raided drug clinics.
  • 4. Know why cocaine never proved as popular as opiates until the 1960s:
    • • Because it had an effect opposite of opiates, cocaine was used to treat morphine addiction.
    • • By the late 1880s a feel-good pharmacology based on the coca plant and its derivative cocaine emerged.
    • • The initial enthusiasm for cocaine in the 1880s use declined until a reemergence in the 1960s.
    • • Crack cocaine became the subject of a drug scare.
  • 5. Recognize how marijuana emerged as a symbol of nonconformity and eventually a political issue:
    • • During the 1960s public attitudes toward marijuana underwent considerable change. A nonconformist counterculture, whose members were often from the white middle class, emerged.
    • • The change in who was using marijuana in the 1960s led to a change in attitude toward the drug and its users.
    • • In 2012, medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana became political issues.
  • 6. Know the history of the use of amphetamines:
    • • The widespread use of amphetamines in the 1960s was the subject of an FDA campaign and laws restricting its use.
    • • Widespread use in the form of methamphetame continues, particularly in more rural parts of the country where the drug is often manufactured.
  • 7. Know the history of the use of barbiturates and tranquilizers:
    • • Medical use of barbiturates has been largely replaced by benzodiazepines.
  • 8. Know the history of the use of hallucinogens:
    • • LSD was virtually unknown before 1962 when popularized by two Harvard psychologists.
    • • LSD was outlawed despite interest in its medical use.
  • 9. Understand why drugs became a major political issue from the 1960s through the 1980s:
    • • During the 1960s the medical profession began to reassert itself on the issue of drug use in both treatment and research.
    • • Between 1969 and 1974 the number of federally funded drug rehabilitation programs increased dramatically with thousands of heroin addicts being maintained on methadone.
    • • During the presidency of Ronald Reagan drugs again became a political issue and the “war on drugs” was important in the 1988 presidential campaign.
  • 10. Appreciate why drugs as a political issue became dormant:
    • • The 1990s was characterized by a lack of political interest in drug use and the extent of prison overcrowding resulting from drug policies resulted in remedies that placed more drug offenders in diversion or drug treatment programs.
    • • The twenty-first century has been characterized by a rise in the use of methamphetamine in rural parts, while in urban areas crack use has ceased to be an epidemic.
    • • Concern over the nonmedical use of prescription drugs gained government attention.

Review Questions

  • 1. What handicaps historical analysis of drug use?
  • 2. What is the connection between support for Prohibition and nativism?
  • 3. Why did big business support Prohibition?
  • 4. What is negative contagion?
  • 5. What was the patent medicine problem?
  • 6. What is the connection between the Opium Wars and the outlawing of the nonmedical use of opiates?
  • 7. How did the outlawing of the nonmedical use of opiates change the public view of opiate users?
  • 8. What is the connection between the 1906 publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906 and the enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act?
  • 9. What events led to the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914?
  • 10. Why did Congress use the taxing authority of the federal government to control drugs?
  • 11. What did the Supreme Court rule with respect to the Harrison Act?
  • 12. How did federal drug enforcement influence drug policy?
  • 13. Why were amphetamines used by various militaries during wartime?
  • 14. How did World War II impact on heroin use in the U.S.?
  • 15. What led to the decline in interest in cocaine use and its reemergence in the 1960s?
  • 16. What are the common elements of a drug scare?
  • 17. What is the connection between race, religion, and ethnicity have been closely identified with the reaction to drugs in the United States?
  • 18. Why did attitudes toward marijuana change during the 1960s.
  • 19. What led to the increased interest in LSD during the 1960s?
  • 20. What are the elements that characterize the drug problem of the twenty-first century?


Mexican soldiers next to 3.5 tons cocaine found when a jet from Colombia was forced to land by the Mexican Air Force

After reading this chapter, you will:

  • ▸ Appreciate that the law of supply and demand governs the illegal drug market
  • ▸ Know the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism
  • ▸ Understand why Colombia, Mexico, the Golden Triangle, and the Golden Crescent are the source of most of the world’s illegal drugs
  • ▸ Know the many ways to smuggle drugs into the United States
  • ▸ Understand the persons and groups that operate at the retail level of drug trafficking
  • ▸ Appreciate why rural areas have become hospitable to marijuana cultivation and methamphetamine production
  • ▸ Know how and why upper-level drug traffickers engage in money laundering

Underground Railroad

Originating in Tijuana, Mexico, the tunnel ran for almost half a mile, with wooden planks shoring up the earth on all sides. Energy-saving light bulbs illuminated the route, and a motorized cart on railroad tracks provided quick passage to California, where a steel elevator hidden beneath the floor tiles in a warehouse enabled a forty-foot descent to the tunnel’s entrance. Discovered by Mexican authorities in 2011, it is but one of more than a hundred tunnels providing a steady flow of tons of drugs into the United States.

Source:Cave 2011Keefe 2012.

 While opium used to be produced in a huge belt, stretching from China to Indochina, Burma, India, Persia, Turkey and the Balkan countries, the illegal production of opium is now concentrated in Afghanistan (92%). Same for coca. Its leaves used to be cultivated not only in the Andean region but also in several Asian countries including Java (Indonesia), Formosa (Taiwan) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Today coca leaf production is concentrated in three Andean countries: Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

Antonio Maria Costa (20093)

This chapter examines the international and domestic traffic in illegal drugs that by any estimate, is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry with enormous profit-to-cost ratios. For example, heroin can be purchased in 700-gram units in Bangkok, Thailand, for between $7,500 and $9,500 and sold in the United States for $60,000 to $70,000. Because the product is illegal but in great demand, drug trafficking is characterized by a level of free enterprise that Adam Smith never envisioned. It is a market totally devoid of legal constraints in which prices and profits are governed only by the law of supply and demand.

   The business of illegal drugs shares some elements with the business of selling legal products: “It requires lots of working capital, steady supplies of raw materials, sophisticated manufacturing facilities, reliable shipping contractors and wholesale distributors, the all-important marketing arms and access to retail franchises for maximum market penetration” (Brzezinski 2002, 26). Longmire (2011) notes that drug “cartels are run like profit-seeking corporations; so when the market makes a move, so do they.” She points out that “over the years, they have shown an amazing ability to adjust to changing drug-consumer tastes and increasing law enforcement initiatives.” Mexican and Colombia cartels “keep a constant finger on the pulse of U.S. demand for drugs in order to keep their biggest consumer happy” (10).

   As in any major industry there are various functional levels: manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and consumers. Workers in the drug business range from leaders of powerful international cartels to street dealers whose activities support a personal drug habit. At the manufacturing and importation levels, the drug business is usually concentrated among a relatively few people who head major trafficking organizations; at the retail level, it is filled with a large, fluctuating, and open-ended number of dealers and consumers. Because people at the highest levels of the drug trade are often connected by kinship and ethnicity, we will frequently refer to the ethnicity of criminal organizations.

   For decades, the American Mafia controlled heroin trafficked into the United States. In a drug-trafficking network that became known as the “French Connection,” New York City—based American Mafia Families purchased heroin from Corsican sources working with French sailors operating from Marseilles to transship the drug directly to the United States where it was distributed to drug dealers working in low-income, minority communities. However, in 1972, French and U.S. drug agents effectively dismantled the French Connection, ending the American Mafia’s monopoly on heroin distribution in the United States.

   The demise of the French Connection coupled with the subsequent emergence of criminal syndicates based in Mexico and Colombia marked a significant evolution in the international drug trade. These new traffickers introduced cocaine into the United States on a massive scale, launching unparalleled waves of drug crimes and violence. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the foreign crime syndicates continued to increase their wealth and dominance over the U.S. drug trade, overshadowing the domestic Mafia Families.

   Today, at the highest levels of trafficking in illegal drugs destined for the United States are organizations based in Colombia and Mexico who produce and export unprecedented volumes of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana. The trafficking hierarchy maintains control of workers through highly compartmentalized cell structures that separate production, shipment, distribution, money laundering, communications, security, and recruitment. These organizations have at their disposal the most technologically advanced aircraft, vessels, vehicles, radar, communications equipment, and weapons that money can buy. They have established vast counterintelligence capabilities and transportation networks. There is also the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism.

The Terrorism Connection

The globalization of organized crime created a nexus with terrorism. In years past, transnational organized crime “was largely regional in scope, hierarchically structured, and had only occasional links to terrorism. Today’s criminal networks are fluid, striking new alliances with other networks around the world and engaging in a wide range of illicit activities, including cybercrime and providing support for terrorism” (Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime 2011, 3).

   The links between terrorist organizations and drug traffickers can take many forms, ranging from facilitation—protection, transportation, and taxation—to direct trafficking by terrorists to finance activities. Traffickers and terrorists have similar logistical needs in terms of materiel and the covert movement of goods, people, and money. Relationships between drug traffickers and terrorists can be mutually beneficial. Drug traffickers gain from access to terrorists’ military skills and weapons supply; terrorists gain a source of revenue and expertise in illicit transfer and laundering of proceeds. Both bring corrupt officials whose services provide mutual benefits, such as greater access to fraudulent documents, including passports and customs papers. Drug traffickers can also gain considerable freedom of movement when they operate in conjunction with terrorists who control large amounts of territory (Beers and Taylor 2002). This gives rise to the term narcoterrorism—terrorist acts carried out by groups that are directly or indirectly involved in cultivating, manufacturing, transporting, or distributing illegal drugs.

   A number of terrorist groups use drug trafficking to further their political ends—overthrowing governments and imposing their worldview. “It is not particularly uncommon for terrorist groups to recruit some of their members among criminal elements, particularly among individuals who may have special skills or common criminals who contribute to its goals in instrumental, training, and other matters” (Préfontaine and Dandurand 2004, 16). Terrorist and drug-trafficking groups share some attributes, in particular organizational structure such as compartmentalization (see Figure 9.2 on page 231). Terrorist groups and trafficking organizations often have similar requirements for moving people, money, materiel, and weapons across borders and often operate under a similar set of contingencies. The distinction between drug trafficking and terrorism is becoming increasingly blurred, and we see an overlapping, symbiotic relationship between terrorism, drugs, and organized crime (Perl 2000).


Colombia, Center of the World’s Cocaine Trafficking

   Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, for example, have been using heroin to finance their efforts. The Taliban tax poppy farmers and the traders who collect opium paste from them for transport to labs where it is converted into heroin. Truckers pay a transit tariff when heroin is smuggled out of Afghanistan and drug trafficking organizations make large regular payments to the Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s governing body (Schmitt 2009). In Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, there is a long-standing tradition of using heroin trafficking to support insurgencies.

   The Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) raises funds through taxation of the drug trade. In return for cash payments, or possibly in exchange for weapons, some units protect cocaine laboratories and clandestine airstrips in southern Colombia. Some FARC units are involved in limited cocaine laboratory operations, and some are directly involved in local drug trafficking activities, such as controlling cocaine base markets.


Colombians have been able to dominate the cocaine industry for a number of reasons. The President’s Commission on Organized Crime (PCOC) (1986) notes, “Colombia is well-positioned both to receive coca from Peru and Bolivia and to export the processed drug to the United States by air or by sea [and] the country’s vast central forests effectively conceal clandestine processing laboratories and air strips, which facilitate the traffic.” The Colombians “have a momentum by benefit of their early involvement in the cocaine trade” (78–79). In 1968, in an attempt to bolster its domestic economic performance, Colombia proudly established the Institute of Advanced Chemical Research in Bogotá, which started to train top-class chemists, who were later to find lucrative work in the employ of the Medellín and Cali cartels” (Glenny 2008, 245). Then there is a Colombian reputation for violence, which serves to maintain discipline and intimidate would-be competitors (PCOC 1986). The propensity to use violence led to domination of potential Bolivian and Peruvian rivals in the cocaine business.

   Colombia is the only country in the world where the three main plant-based illegal drugs—cocaine, heroin, and marijuana—are produced in significant amounts (Thoumi 2002). A nation of about 45 million persons, Colombia is the only South American country that has both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines (see Figure 9.1). The high Andes divide the country into four regions, with most of Colombia’s population concentrated in green valleys and mountain basins that lie between the Andes ranges; travel between populated areas is difficult (Buckman 2004). It is a nation that has been torn by political strife, with civil wars in 1902 and 1948. “La Violencia,” as the civil war of 1948–1958 is known, cost the lives of about 300,000 people (Riding 1987). It ended when the Liberals and the Conservatives formed the National Front, but several Marxist insurgencies continued to threaten the stability of the central government. Not only was murder frequent, but the methods that were used were often sadistic, such as the corte de corbata—the infamous “Colombian necktie”—in which the throat is cut longitudinally and the tongue is pulled through to hang like a tie. Another practice, no dejar la semilla (“don’t leave the seed”), includes the castration of male victims and the execution of women and children (Wolfgang and Ferracuti 1967).


Compartmentalized Organization

   For many decades, coca leaf was converted to cocaine base in Bolivia and Peru and smuggled by small aircraft or boats into Colombia, where it was refined into cocaine in jungle laboratories. Laboratories have relocated to cities far from cultivation sites to be closer to sources of precursor chemicals and because improved law enforcement methods have facilitated the detection of jungle laboratories. Precursor chemicals are usually manufactured in the United States and Germany; Panama and Mexico serve as major transit sources. Colombian cartels, using dummy companies and multiple suppliers, pay up to ten times the normal prices for these chemicals. Traffickers have also been stealing precursor shipments in transit from the point of entry into Colombia en route to a legitimate end-user.

   Some Colombian traffickers set up laboratories in other Latin American countries and even the United States in response to increased law enforcement in Colombia and the increasing cost of ether, sulfuric acid, and acetone in Colombia. Acetone, sulfuric acid, and ether are widely available for commercial purposes in the United States. While sulfuric acid and acetone have wide industrial use in Colombia, ether does not, and each kilo of cocaine requires seventeen liters of ether. The cost of these chemicals has increased as a result of controls imposed by the Colombian government on their importation and sale and of DEA’s efforts to disrupt the supply of chemicals that are essential in the cocaine refinement process (Hall 2000). Colombia is a relatively large country, and many regions have only a weak federal presence. “While Colombian authorities built suburbs and major highways between cities, they ignored vast sections of the country; much of rural Colombia is isolated by hilly, trackless terrain” (Duzán 1994, 63). Three steep mountain ranges run the length of Colombia, and impenetrable jungle covers the south: “The government didn’t lose control of this half of Colombia; it never had it” (Robinson 1998a, 39). The vacuum left by the central government has proved ideal for coca cultivation and cocaine manufacture because it left areas where only local officials had to be bribed, a cheaper and less risky action than bribery at the federal level (Thoumi 1995). By 1998, Colombia had become the world’s leading coca producer.

   Contesting the FARC for control of poppy- and coca-producing regions are right-wing militias that have proven to be more effective against the guerillas than government forces—and this has endeared them to elements of the population at risk. These militias have reinforced this support by building roads and schools in the areas from which they have driven the guerillas (Forero 2001cGuillermoprieto 2002).

   Pushed westward by Colombian military successes into jungle areas populated primarily by indigenous Indians, some former paramilitary and drug trafficking groups—the two often overlap—abandoned their ideological bent and have forged alliances with their former left-wing enemies. The same groups in other parts continue their violent struggles, but now the goal is control over the drug trade (Romero 2009a).

   Colombia-based cocaine trafficking groups in the United States continue to be organized around “cells” that operate within a given geographic area. Because these cells are based on family relationships or close friendships, outsiders who attempt to penetrate the cell run a high risk of arousing suspicion. Some cells specialize in a particular facet of the drug trade, such as cocaine transport, storage, wholesale distribution, or money laundering. Each cell, which may comprise ten or more individuals, operates with little or no knowledge about the other cells. In this way, should one of the cells be compromised, the operations of the other cells would not be endangered. Figure 9.1 shows the basic structure of the organization used by drug cartels in Columbia, which can be divided in three components:

  • ▸ Cell: Compartmentalization involves cells with about ten members, each operating independently—members of one cell typically do not know members of other cells. Operating within a geographic area, the head of each cell reports directly to a controller.
  • ▸ Controller: Responsible for overall operations of the several cells within a region, the controller reports to central command via cell phone or Internet.
  • ▸ Central Command: Located in a relatively safe haven, the central command oversees and coordinates operations through the controllers.

   A rigid top-down command and control structure is characteristic of these groups. The head of each cell reports to a regional director, who is responsible for the overall management of several cells. The regional director, in turn, reports directly to one of the top drug lords or his designate, based in Colombia. Trusted lieutenants of the organization in the United States have discretion in day-to-day operations, but ultimate authority rests with the leadership in Colombia (Ledwith 2000).

   Traffickers from Colombia use state-of-the-art encryption devices to translate their communications into indecipherable code. This evolving technology presents a significant impediment to law enforcement investigations of criminal activities. In the past, the necessity for frequent communication between drug lords in Colombia and their surrogates in the United States made the drug-trafficking organizations vulnerable to law enforcement wiretaps. Now, however, through the use of encryption technology, the traffickers can protect their electronic business communications from law enforcement interception and hide information that could be used to build criminal cases against them.

   Colombian managers dispatched to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico operate these command and control centers and are responsible for overseeing drug trafficking in the region. Puerto Rico, a 110-mile-long island with the third busiest seaport in North America, is ideal for smugglers, who have fewer problems getting their goods to the United States because shipments from Puerto Rico are not searched by customs agents. Colombians direct networks of transporters that oversee the importation, storage, exportation, and wholesale distribution of cocaine destined for the continental United States. They have franchised to criminals from the Dominican Republic a portion of the midlevel wholesale cocaine and heroin trade on the East Coast of the United States.

   The Dominican traffickers operating in the United States, not the Colombians, are the ones who are subject to arrest, while the top-level Colombians control the organization with sophisticated telecommunications. This change in operations reduces profits somewhat for the syndicate leaders but reduces their exposure to U.S. law enforcement. If arrested, the Dominicans will have little damaging information that can be used against their Colombian masters. Reducing their exposure, together with sophisticated communications, puts the Colombian bosses closer to their goal of operating from a political, legal, and electronic sanctuary.

Heroin Trafficking in Colombia

Colombian entry into heroin is based on demographics. During the 1980s, the popularity of cocaine began to fade among urban professionals, and “cokeheads” tend to burn out after five years. With this dwindling consumer base, the Colombians expanded into Europe but with only limited success—heroin being the hard drug of choice and a market dominated by Pakistani and Turkish groups—and not until recently has cocaine use become popular and thus increased in Europe (The Transatlantic Cocaine Market 2011). So the Colombians diversified, importing poppy seeds, equipment, and expertise from Southwest Asia (Golden Crescent). By 1999, Colombians had become major heroin wholesalers, often selling cocaine and heroin to wholesalers as part of a package deal. Colombian market advantages include geographic proximity to the United States and established distribution networks. They required their Dominican cells in the United States to take a couple of kilos of heroin for every 100 kilos of cocaine to give out free samples to customers—and the strategy worked, creating an entirely new client base for heroin. The purity level of their heroin permits it to be prepared for smoking, ridding the product of its dirty needles and HIV reputation (Brzezinski 2002). Smoking is a less efficient way of ingesting than intravenous use because a lot of the drug literally goes up in smoke. Therefore, only when it is relatively cheap and, therefore, plentiful will smoking heroin predominate.

   Since the 1980s, Colombia has become a leading poppy grower, and Colombians have become major heroin wholesalers. At the end of 1991, police raids in Colombia disclosed thousands of acres of poppy plants (“Colombian Heroin May Be Increasing” 1991). On the mountain slopes of Colombia’s Andean rain forests, guerrillas and drug traffickers grow significant crops. On the hillsides of a reservation in the southern Colombian state of Cauca, at an altitude of 9,000 feet, Guambiano Indians cultivate their most precious crop. Gum from their poppies brings about $115 a pound and represents the difference between food and hunger. Nine other states are known to have poppy plantations (Tamayo 2001).

   By the end of the 1990s, Colombian heroin accounted for more than 50 percent of the drug smuggled into the United States. The high purity level of Colombian heroin—it passes through fewer hands from “the farm to the arm” than the Asian variety—enables ingestion by sniffing and smoking, methods that are much safer than injection, which is the only way to get a potent high with weaker versions of the drug. During the 1980s the Colombian drug lords relied heavily on organized groups from Mexico to transport cocaine into the United States after it was delivered to Mexico from Colombia. Currently, the greatest proportion of cocaine available in the United States is still entering the United States through Mexico. Using their skills as seasoned drug traffickers with a long tradition of polydrug smuggling, crime lords from Mexico soon established cocaine-trafficking routes and contacts. In the late 1980s, Colombia-based organizations, which had paid transporters from Mexico cash for their services, began to pay them in cocaine—in many cases up to half of the shipment. As a result the organizations from Mexico evolved from mere transporters of cocaine to major cocaine traffickers in their own right, and today they pose a grave threat to the United States.

   Mexican organized crime syndicates control the wholesale distribution of cocaine in the western half and the Midwest of the United States and they dominate the drug trade in the Northwestern United States (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009h2009a). The dismantling of major Colombian cartels in Medellín and Cali created opportunities for their Mexican colleagues who began forging direct links with cocaine sources in Bolivia and Peru. In their weakened state, Colombians now have to compete with Mexican organizations for the U.S. market. Mexican organizations “are the greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States; they control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, advanced communications capabilities, and strong affiliations with gangs in the United States” (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009a, 45).


Mexican drug trafficking organizations control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, advanced communications capabilities, and strong affiliations with gangs in the United States, overseeing drug distribution in more than 230 U.S. cities. They are the only drug trafficking organizations operating in every region of the country (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009a20102011).

   Mexico is a nation of more than 100 million people, 75 percent of who live in urban areas. Independence from Spanish rule in 1821 was followed by a series of revolutions, rigged elections, and general turmoil. There was a war with the United States in 1848 and a French invasion and occupation from 1863 to 1867. In still another violent overthrow, Porfirio Diaz came to power in 1876 and ruled Mexico for thirty-five years. Out of the revolution that ousted Diaz emerged Mexico’s dominant political party, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI; pronounced “pree”).

   For decades after its founding, the PRI “was a tool of successive presidents using authoritarian methods to insure one-party rule” (Dillon 1999b, 1). The police forces—federal, state, and local—that evolved out of this atmosphere have been deployed not to protect but to control the population. Furthermore, police officers have been poorly paid, and it is understood that they can supplement their pittance with bribes as long as they remain loyal to the government (Dillon 1996). The PRI ruled Mexico for more than seventy years without any strong opposition, during which time corruption became endemic. As a former governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua stated: “If we put everyone who’s corrupt in jail, who will close the door?” (Aridjis 2012)

   When it ruled Mexico as an elective dictatorship, the PRI “accommodated but regulated the drug cartels” (Padgett 2009, 39). The decline of the PRI and political reform in Mexico brought unintended consequences: In the wake of his election in 2006, President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels and dispatched the military in what has become an increasingly bloody campaign as the traffickers fought back ferociously. As Shirk (2010) notes, “Lacking a unified, overarching hierarchy of corrupt state officials to limit competition, the organization of drug trafficking became more fractionalized” and competitive. With the added effect of government counter-drug efforts, the result is “a more chaotic and unpredictable pattern of violent conflict among organized crime groups than Mexico has ever seen” (11).

   Free-market reforms and its gradual implementation pushed many ordinary Mexicans to find alternative employment. “As the global economy grew, so did a diversified and innovative network of illicit entrepreneurs, and drug trafficking presented the most lucrative of black market opportunities…. Although Mexico had been a longtime source of marijuana, opium, and synthetic drugs for the U.S. market, its rise as a transit point for cocaine created profitable new employment opportunities for the estimated 450,000 people who rely on drug trafficking as a significant source of income today” (Shirk 2011, 7). Despite political changes, Mexico remains in an economic crisis, crime has skyrocketed, and the criminal justice system is in an advanced stage of deterioration—more than 95 percent of violent crimes in Mexico go unsolved—the police are intimidated, corruption endemic, and human rights violations widespread (Padgett 2011). “Torture by the authorities is so common in Mexico that it seemingly fails to shock anyone to whom it has not happened” (Finnegan 2010, 71).

The Economics of Cocaine

Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel can purchase a kilo of cocaine in the highlands of Colombia for about $2,000. As it makes its way north, the market value of that kilo increases. In Mexico, that kilo fetches more than $10,000. Across the U.S. border, that same kilo can sell for $30,000. At the retail per-gram level, it sells for as much as $100,000.

Source:Keefe 201237.

   “Mexican-based trafficking organizations control access to the U.S.-Mexico border, the primary gateway for moving the bulk of illicit drugs into the United States” (National Drug Intelligence Center 2011, 8). They do not expend resources in an attempt to control territory (Molzahn, Ríos, and Shirk 2012). Instead, they “simultaneously use, or are competing for control of various smuggling corridors that they use to regulate drug flow across the border. The value they attach to controlling border access is demonstrated by the ferocity with which rival groups fight over control of key corridors, or ‘plazas’” (National Drug Intelligence Center 2011, 8).

   In 2011, Human Rights Watch accused the Mexican military of engaging in torture, forced disappearances, and extra-judicial killings in its war against organized crime. Corruption and intimidation extend into the media: journalists receive payoffs or threats and avoid offending politicians and the military, or probing the drug business (Bowden 2011). Since 2007, almost seventy Mexican journalists have been murdered (Padgett 2011).

   Mexicans distrust the police while fearing the traffickers, who have resorted to beheadings to terrorize the public. “Along with the widespread fear comes a certain respect. Big-time mobsters are treated like folk heroes in their home regions, their stories told and retold in popular songs” (J. C. McKinley 2007, 10). The popular culture of Mexico is infused with songs and ballads—known as narcocorridos—glamorizing drug trafficking (Downes 2009). Major narcotraficantes are celebrated, along with their subculture of violence. Many songs contain references to an outlaw code of behavior, and narcocorrido music videos depict violence, including torture and the murder of police officers (Dillon 1999a). The songs are filled with unusually explicit lyrics about decapitations and torture, and praise for one drug gang in particular: the Sinaloa cartel and its bosses, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman In the Pacific seaside resort town of Mazatlán, in Sinaoloa State, home of the Sinaloa cartel, tourists can enjoy a “narco-tour.” Tourists—almost all are Mexicans from other parts of the country—pay about $15 an hour to visit the homes of narcotraficantes and scenes of some of their bloody shootouts (Lacey 2009a).

   Charles Bowden (2009) refers to two Mexicos. The first is where the Mexican president is fighting a valiant war on drugs, aided by the Mexican Army and $1.4 billion in U.S. aid. The second is where there is a war for control of drugs, where the police and the military fight for their share of the business. Even imprisonment does little to impede their drug business. Indeed, prisons often serve as a base of cartel operations: “For drug lords, flush with money, life on the inside is often the free-spirited existence they led outside. Inmates look up to them. Guards often become their employees” (Lacey 2009c, 6). In 2009, guards at a northern Mexican prison allowed 53 dangerous inmates, including about a dozen who were drug cartel suspects, to walk out. Once outside, eight men wearing jackets with the federal police insignia escorted them to police cars with flashing lights. The incident was captured on video by prison security cameras (Associated Press 2009a). In 2010, it was disclosed that inmates in a Mexican prison, armed with weapons issued to prison guards, were allowed out at night to carry out drug trafficking-related executions (Malkin 2010).

   In the employ of the Gulf cartel—one of several operating in Mexico—is an assassination unit of former Mexican special forces (Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales) trained in the United States and known as “Los Zetas,” named after the radio call name of their original leader who was killed in 2002. In 2004, the unit’s chief was captured after a gunfight with Mexican agents who found a cache of military-grade automatic weapons and grenades (McKinley 2004a). That same year, a well-organized jailbreak freed five suspected cartel gunman who were being held on murder charges (Reuters 2004a). Their leader, Heriberto Lazcano, 29, known as “El Verdugo” (the Executioner),” is reported to have fed victims to the lions and tigers he keeps on his ranches. Lazcano was part of an elite special forces unit sent to combat drug trafficking on the eastern border that, instead, began working for the Gulf cartel in the late 1990s. In place of their military pay of $700 a month, they are paid $15,000 a month. Their military discipline, training, arsenal, and wiretap capability make them a formidable organization that has expanded into ransom kidnapping and extortion from businesses (Padgett 2005).

   The lethality of the Zetas has been strengthened by their recruitment of Mexican American teenagers, some as young as thirteen, who are trained for months on the use of assault rifles and hand-to-hand combat and placed in comfortable houses on both sides of the border. While awaiting assignments, youngsters receive a retainer of $500 a week and from $10,000 to $50,000 per assassination. There are also perks such as parties with attractive women and luxury cars for outstanding work (McKinley 2009b). “Los Zetas has since expanded beyond its enforcement and security services to become fully engaged in trafficking illicit drugs to the United States (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009d, 9).

Los Zetas and the Sport of Kings

In 2012, after the arrest and indictment of Zetas in New Mexico and Oklahoma, the U.S, State Department warned Americans traveling in Mexico that they could become the subject of retaliatory violence. Those arrested are accused of laundering millions in drug profits through breeding and racing quarter horses in the United States. They are alleged to have moved drug cartel profits to José Treviño Morales and his brother Miguel, a Zeta enforcer known for dismembering victims while they are alive. José and his wife, who own a seventy-acre ranch in Oklahoma, were among those arrested; Miguel is a fugitive for whose capture the DEA has offered a $5 million reward. It is not unusual for Mexican breeders to move their operations to the United States where they do not have to fear competing for large purses.

   Treviño horses competed at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and won lucrative races, including the $1 million All American Futurity in 2010, considered the Kentucky Derby of quarter horses.

Source:G. Tbompson 2012.

   In 2005, hours after being sworn in, a businessman who had volunteered to become Nuevo Laredo’s police chief—no one else wanted the job—was assassinated by men firing assault rifles from an SUV. The federal government responded by sending in the military (Jordon and Sullivan 2005). Later that year, federal authorities arrested fifteen Laredo police officers for abducting people on orders from the Gulf cartel (Iliff 2005). In 2008, gunmen killed the head of the federal organized crime division, and two weeks later the chief of the federal police. Mexican authorities subsequently charged six men with links to the Sinaloa cartel including the man who hired the shooter, a federal police officer (McKinley 2008f2008g). “Mexico has never been particularly adept at bringing criminals to justice,” notes Lacey (2009e), and “the drug war has made things worse. Investigators are now swamped with homicides and other drug crimes that they will never crack. On top of the standard obstacles—too little expertise, too much corruption—is one that seems to grow by the day: fear of becoming the next body on the street” (1).

   The Mexican military has been mobilized to combat the drug cartels, but critics claim the army is a major part of the problem: There is a history of collusion between the armed forces and drug traffickers and the military has been responsible for widespread human rights abuse (Caputo 2009). Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Mexican human rights groups, as well as the U.S. Department of State, have accused the Mexican military of widespread human rights violations that include kidnappings and extra-legal killings (Lacey 2009f).

   Cartel militarization and the Mexican government’s military response have resulted in fierce gun battles. Gunmen have refused to surrender and have ambushed soldiers and police officers. They have corrupted local police departments and assassinated honest police commanders. In 2008, after a violent gun battle with soldiers and police officers in Rio Bravo, Mexican authorities arrested three U.S. citizens, gunmen working for the Gulf cartel who had been recruited from across the border (McKinley 2008h). A few days later in Tijuana, government forces fought a three-hour battle with gunmen who used heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades (McKinley 2008d, 2008e). The group acquired military-grade weapons, including assault weapons and ammunition, in the United States and smuggled them back into Mexico.

Guns, Guns, Guns

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) traced 99,000 firearms recovered by law enforcement authorities in Mexico between 2007 and 2011. ATF found that more than 68,000 were from the United States. The data shows a trend in recovered and submitted crime guns from Mexico, a shift from pistols and revolvers to assault rifles with detachable magazines frequently used by drug trafficking organizations.

   At the end 2009, in a two-hour shootout, Mexican marines killed the wanted drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva; six other traffickers and one marine were also killed. Several hours after the dead marine’s mother attended his memorial service in Mexico City, where she received the Mexican flag covering her son’s coffin, gunmen armed with assault rifles broke into the marine’s home and killed his mother, his aunt, and two siblings (Associated Press 2009c).

   In 2009, after the arrest of a ranking member of La Familia Michoacána, a cultlike gang of methamphetamine traffickers noted for beheading enemies and headquartered in the southwestern state of Michoacán, a series of retaliatory attacks ensued resulting in the killing three federal officers and two soldiers. Several days later, the bodies of twelve military intelligence officers who were investigating La Familia were found bound, blindfolded, and tortured (Malkin 2009“12 Mexican Intelligence Agents Tortured, Slain” 2009).

   In the early 1990s, the Mexicans struck a deal with the Colombians whose cocaine they were moving from Mexico into the United States on a contract basis: For every two kilograms of smuggled cocaine the Mexicans would keep one kilogram as payment in kind (O’Brien and Greenburg 1996Wren 1996). Both sides benefited. The Colombians had an abundance of cocaine, and the Mexicans had a distribution network in the United States that they had previously used for heroin. This arrangement was aided by the North American Free Trade Act, which further opened the already porous borders between the United States and Mexico (See Figure 9.3).

   Better organization and an extensive drug portfolio have enabled Mexican organizations to diversify by dividing operations into heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and now methamphetamine units. In 2012, Mexican authorities found fifteen tons of pure powdered methamphetamine at a ranch outside Guadalajara (Cave 2012).

   Although major international trafficking organizations have traditionally specialized in one substance—heroin or cocaine—in several cases commodity lines have become blurred: Colombians, historically cocaine traffickers, have become involved in the heroin business, while Mexicans, traditionally heroin traffickers, have become major cocaine dealers. The portfolio of Mexican traffickers includes marijuana that some observers believe has become their most lucrative product. Mexican traffickers have relocated many of their outdoor cannabis cultivation operations in Mexico from traditional growing areas to more remote locations in central and northern Mexico, primarily to reduce the risk of eradication and gain easier access to U.S. drug markets (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009c2009m).


Mexico and Bordering States

   As opposed to the instability of the heroin and cocaine markets in the United States, marijuana retains its marketability and profitability. Mexican marijuana is transported to the United States in pickup trucks driven over a ramp that has been placed on border security fences, or though cross-border tunnels. Sometimes they simply throw bales of marijuana over the fence to be retrieved by confederates on the U.S. side. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to substantial tightening of the U.S.-Mexican border that affected marijuana smuggling routes. To avoid smuggling, cartels harvest on the U.S. side, where they lease fertile land such as vineyards or grow and harvest marijuana in national forests (Moore 2009a). As a result, plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams and the growing areas have become polluted with weed and bug sprays banned in the United States as well as rat poison used to keep animals away from the young plants (Cone 2008).

Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia encompasses approximately 150,000 square miles of forested highlands, including the western fringe of Laos, the four northern provinces of Thailand, and the northeastern parts of Myanmar, formerly Burma (see Figure 9.4). These countries emerged from colonial rule with relatively weak central governments, their rural areas inhabited by bandits and paramilitary organizations. Colonial officials, particularly the French, used these organizations and indigenous tribes against various insurgent groups, particularly those that followed a Marxist ideology. As support for overseas colonies dwindled at home, French officials in Southeast Asia utilized the drug trade to finance their anti-insurgent efforts. Golden Triangle opium was shipped to Marseilles, where the Corsican underworld processed it into heroin for distribution in the United States—the “French Connection” discussed earlier.


Major Asian Opium Regions

   The French withdrew from Southeast Asia in 1955, and several years later the United States took up the struggle against Marxist groups there. The Vietnam War is part of this legacy. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) waged its own clandestine war. Again, heroin played a role, for many of the indigenous tribal groups that were organized by the CIA cultivated opium. In Laos and the former South Vietnam, corrupt governments were heavily involved in heroin trafficking, making the substance easily available to U.S. soldiers (A. W. McCoy 19721991). The tradition of using drugs to help finance military efforts continues as various ethnic groups press demands for autonomy from Myanmar. There are dozens of armed ethnic guerrilla groups, and each year sees the creation of one or two more. The most formidable, the United Wa State Army (USWA) controls the Wa State, a semi-autonomous region (Special Region No. 2) in Eastern Burma with a population of more than .5 million persons.

   The UWSA is the military wing of the United Wa State Party and was formed from the remnants of the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) in 1989. The BCP had received support from the People’s Republic of China. After Beijing cut off this aid to improve relations with Myanmar, the BCP, following a long-established precedent in the region, went into the opium business. In 1989, its ethnic rank-and-file Wa tribesmen—fierce warriors whose ancestors were headhunters—rebelled, and the BCP folded as an armed force (Haley 1990). Most Wa political groups reached an accommodation with the Myanmar ruling military junta, but one faction organized as the UWSA. Headquartered on the border of China’s Yunnan Province, the UWSA uses trafficking in heroin—and more recently methamphetamine—as a means of funding efforts against Burmese control (Witkin and Griffin 1994). Ironically, the Wa routinely executes anyone who is caught dealing heroin for local use (Wren 1998b).

   The UWSA has an estimated strength of 20,000 men, with another 30,000 reserves, well armed with ground-to-air missiles and modern communications equipment, mostly from China. The USWA maintains close ties with China and uneasy peace with Myanmar that has unsuccessfully pressed the Wa to disarm. The United States has offered $2 million for anyone who aids in the capture of the Wa drug kingpin who was born in China but has held leadership positions in the Wa government. According to the DEA, the UWSA is financed almost exclusively by drug trafficking, producing heroin and methamphetamine for distribution throughout Southeast Asia and other countries.

   Heroin manufactured in the Golden Triangle is smuggled into China’s Yunnan Province and transported eastward to the coast and beyond. It is also smuggled through the Laos and Vietnam into the Guangxi Autonomous Region and Guangdong Province of China. Other important transit routes bring heroin from the Golden Triangle to major cities on the Southeast Asian peninsula, where it is sold in the illicit markets there or transported to other parts of the world. Golden Triangle heroin also feeds a sizable addict population in China. While Chinese authorities execute scores of drug traffickers and dealers each year, “they are not gaining the upper hand in the war against drug trafficking in the border areas, as more and more traffickers, many of them peasants from interior provinces of China hired as couriers (or “mules”), continue to cross the long and porous border” (Chin and Zhang 2007, 11).

Golden Crescent

The Golden Crescent of Southwest Asia includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Iran (see Figure 9.4). The region has limestone-rich soil, a climate and altitude that are ideal for poppy cultivation, and, like the Golden Triangle, a ready abundance of cheap labor for the labor-intensive production of opium, and the opium poppy grown in Afghanistan has a higher yield than that of Myanmar (World Drug Report 2008). “What crude oil is to the Middle East, poppies are to Afghanistan” (Powell 2007, 31).

   Unlike Southeast Asia, Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and the martial tradition of its tribes kept it free of colonialism. Western interest in this nation of about 27 million was limited until the Soviet invasion. The Pashtuns, a tribal group that populates Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, make up about 40 percent of the inhabitants of Afghanistan. The border dividing Pashtuns in Pakistan from their tribal brethren in Afghanistan was drawn by the British more than a century ago and is generally ignored; there are few border patrols in the region (Ahmed-Ullah 2001).

   “Poppy growing is so uncontrolled that despite millions of aid dollars spent to train anti-drug forces and to help farmers grow other crops, Afghanistan is showing no signs of leaving its position as the world’s biggest producer of opium” (Gall 2006a, 4). It now accounts for more than 90 percent of global opium production. Afghan opium is processed into heroin in local laboratories or shipped to processing plants in Pakistan.

   Afghan heroin destined for Europe is frequently transported across the forbidding Margo desert. Heavily armed convoys traveling at high speeds move their supplies into Iran where thousands of police officers have been killed battling against heavily armed Afghan traffickers (Gall 2005). The traffickers, equipped with antiaircraft missiles, night-vision goggles, and satellite telephones, are better armed than are their opponents in Iranian law enforcement.

   Turkey, which serves as a land bridge to markets in the West for heroin from the Golden Crescent, is fighting a similar battle. Kurdish separatists and Turkish criminal groups have important connections in the Western drug market. They move heroin across the highways of Turkey and into Europe where other criminal organizations, in particular Sicilian Mafia and Neapolitan Camorra groups, distribute the drug throughout the European market.

   In Pakistan, the typical poppy farmer lives in a semiautonomous northern tribal area outside the direct control of the central government in Islamabad. The Pakistani authorities have little control in these areas and must appeal to tribal leaders to move against the region’s dozens of illegal opium-processing laboratories. In northwest Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, an acre of poppies yields about a dozen kilos of opium gum; ten kilos of opium gum can be converted into one kilo of base morphine. The wholesaling is accomplished in lawless border towns such as Landi Kotal, which is about three miles from the Afghan border.

Arrested gunmen from Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and their weapons cache.

   The United States has pressured Pakistan to move against poppy cultivation, but the infusion of hundreds of thousands of Afghan tribesmen into Pakistan has made this difficult if not impossible. Tribesmen in Pakistan are now armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons to protect miles of poppy plants, pledging to die fighting rather than give up their best cash crop. Furthermore, there is a growing domestic market for heroin in Pakistan. While most poppies now grow on the Afghan side of the border and are shipped to Europe and North America in the form of powdered heroin, Pakistan’s heroin-smoking population has grown, with estimates as high as 1 million users.

   The nations of Central Asia that surround Afghanistan, such as Tajikistan, have a predominantly young, rapidly growing, and poverty-stricken population. Add heroin to this mix, and you get an expanding addict population and drug organizations taking advantage of porous borders and easily bribed officials. “The drug business sustains up to 50 percent of the Tajik economy and props up its currency, if only because of the great number of people it employs” (Orth 2002, 168). For many of the warlords who are part of the post-Taliban Afghan government, heroin was the way they supported their armed followers. Islamic terrorist groups also operate in this region, and heroin provides them with an invaluable source of funds. And the connection between drugs and corruption reaches into the highest ranks of the Russian military (Orth 2002).

   In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and U.S. military action against the Taliban government, the poppy once again became an indispensable crop in parts of Afghanistan. A pound of raw opium can be sold for $100 or more, over 100 times what a pound of fruits or vegetables will bring. By 2004, Afghanistan was producing more than three-fourths of the world’s opium—more than 4,000 tons. That same year, the rush to grow poppy caused a glut on the market and a steep decline in its price (Gall 2004Rohde 2004). Opium is so critical to the Afghan economy—roughly one third of the country’s total gross national product—that U.S. officials have been reluctant to engage in an antidrug war that could conflict with efforts to combat terrorism (Ives 2004Schmitt 2004Waldman 2004). America’s military NATO allies in Afghanistan have been reluctant or unwilling to expand their mission into combating drug trafficking that they consider law enforcement (Shanker 2008).

   Wealth from the drug trade has increased the power of regional local warlords, whose militias are a threat to the central government (Schmitt 2004). But high-ranking members of the government are also profiting from the drug trade, as are terrorist groups. Supporters of the U.S.-backed Afghan government are profiting from drugs as are Taliban (Gall 2003; Schweich 2008). In 2005, the United States criticized the Afghan leadership for the government’s failure to curtail poppy cultivation. Antidrug efforts are hampered by a lack of alternative crops for impoverished farmers, and Taliban fighters have joined forces with drug smugglers against the government and Western troops (Cloud and Gall 2005Schmitt 2006).

   By 2008, it was becoming obvious that poverty was not the driving force behind the expansion of poppy cultivation whose growth has largely been confined to the wealthiest parts of Afghanistan: “The starving farmer,” according to Schweich (2008), was a convenient myth that “allowed some European governments avoid involvement with the antidrug effort [and] the Taliban loved it because their propaganda campaign consisted of trotting out farmers whose fields had been eradicated and having them say that they were going to starve” (60). By 2009, it had become apparent that drug trafficking was sustaining the Taliban insurgency, and the U.S, announced that it was expanding military efforts in Afghanistan to include destruction of the opium crop (Filkins 2009). Then, abruptly, late in June 2009, the U.S. announced a new policy: there would be a shift away from eradication of opium fields to interdicting drug supplies. Opium farmers would be aided in making a living through alternative crops while enforcement would focus on intercepting drugs being shipped out of the country (Donadio 2009).

Taliban Heroin

Since the 1990s, Haji Bagcho headed a massive heroin operation that processed the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan’s border region with Pakistan. He supplied more than 100,000 kilograms of heroin annually to more than twenty countries and used his millions in profit to support high-level Taliban commanders. In 2012, after being arrested and extradited from Afghanistan, Bagcho, was tried in federal in Washington, D.C., and received a life sentence.

Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration press release.


Drugs are smuggled into the United States from both source and transshipment countries. Traffickers may use circuitous routes to avoid the suspicion that is normally generated by shipments from source countries. For example, cocaine might be shipped from Colombia to Africa and move from there to Europe and the United States as part of legitimate maritime cargo. Indeed, “traffickers are increasingly using Africa, both east and west, to smuggle cocaine from Latin America into Europe” (Cocaine Trafficking in West Africa 2007Lacey 2006, 4; World Drug Report 2008). Guinea-Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world, is a major transhipment point for Latin American traffickers moving drugs into Europe. There is a barely functioning police force and the country’s military is deeply involved in the drug business—when the front-running candidate for president promised to crack down on the trade, the military staged a coup (Collins 2012).

   Pleasure crafts and fishing vessels blend in with normal maritime traffic, and low-profile vessels made of wood or fiberglass and measuring up to forty feet in length, known as “go fasts” or “cigarette boats”, are difficult to spot and do not readily appear on radar. Smugglers also use aircraft, landing on isolated runways and even highways or dropping their cargo from the air. Motor vehicles use land routes across Canada and Mexico and onto Indian reservations bordering the United States. Often with the aid of Native American criminal groups, the traffickers then move the drugs across national borders into the United States for distribution (Kershaw 2006National Drug Intelligence Center 2008a). The Native American Tohono O’odham Nation reservation in Arizona straddles seventy-five miles of the U.S.-Mexican border and has emerged as a major transit point for drug smuggling, particularly marijuana, a bulky product that cannot be safely smuggled through official border checkpoints. The once placid reservation is now home to tribal members enticed by the financial rewards or fearful of declining the smuggler’s offers (Eckholm 2010). “In addition to the 43 legitimate border crossing points, the Southwest border includes thousands of miles of open desert, rugged mountains, the Rio Grande River, and maritime transit lanes into California and Texas” (Office of National Drug Control Strategy 2009b, 13).

   The length and remoteness of the 1,933-mile-long border between Mexico and the United States make patrolling very difficult and facilitate the transportation of drugs into Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Drugs are also secreted in a variety of motor vehicles and smuggled past official border entry points. Private aircraft make use of hundreds of small airstrips that mark the U.S.-Mexican border and dozens of larger airstrips on the Yucatán Peninsula to move heroin north. Low-flying private aircraft—to avoid radar detection—use numerous privately owned “soft-surface” runways that dot the U.S.-Mexican border and dozens of larger airstrips on the Yucatán Peninsula to move drugs north. Ultralight aircraft are relatively inexpensive and portable and are capable of traveling in excess of seventy miles per hour. Also, it is often difficult for law enforcement officers to identify and interdict the aircraft before the operators deliver their contraband and return to Mexico.

   The United States spent $2.5 billion to build more than 600 miles of border fencing. In response, smugglers rewire ground sensors and extend custom-made ramps on trucks over the fence to drop drugs on the U.S. side, an operation that takes between two and four minutes to complete. Trucks and SUVs that pick up and transport the drugs stop their vehicles and use camouflage tarps whenever lookouts on nearby mountains radio—smugglers erected a string of communication towers—that border patrol agents are nearby. They may wait for days before resuming their journey (Billeaud 2009).

   Drugs are secreted in a variety of motor vehicles and smuggled past official border entry points. More than 30 million personal vehicles and 12 million pedestrians cross the U.S.-Mexico border annually. Drug traffickers also transport drug shipments as airfreight or by courier aboard passenger flights (NDIC 2009). And there are “dope tunnels.”

   Since authorities began keeping records in 1990, dozens of dope tunnels have been found along the Mexican border with the United States—twenty-four were discovered in 2008 (Office of National Drug Control Policy 2009b). Most tunnels discovered by law enforcement officials over the past several years were in Arizona and California. Many tunnels were crudely built and were simple modifications of existing infrastructure, such as drainage systems. However, some were quite elaborate. In 2006, federal agents discovered a tunnel sixty feet below ground that stretched from a warehouse near the international airport in Tijuana to a vacant industrial building in Otay Mesa, California, about twenty miles southeast of downtown San Diego. The tunnel was outfitted with a concrete floor, electricity, lights, ventilation, and groundwater pumping systems. On the Mexican side, officials found a pulley system at the entrance and several thousand pounds of marijuana (Archibold 2006). In 2007, authorities uncovered a 1,300-foot tunnel some fifty feet below the ground linking Tecate, Mexico, with the city of the same name in California. The tunnel began in the floor of a building in Mexico and ended in a large shipping container in California. Passages were illuminated by fluorescent light, and carefully placed pumps kept the tunnel dry. “The neatly squared walls, carved through solid rock, bear the signs of engineering skill and professional drilling tools” (Archibold 2007, 18). In 2010, DEA agents in San Diego uncovered a sophisticated 600-yard underground cross-border tunnel. Approximately thirty tons of marijuana seized in the United States and Mexico have been linked to the tunnel. A crawlspace-sized passageway, the tunnel connected an Otay Mesa warehouse with a similar building in Tijuana, Mexico. The tunnel was equipped with railroad tracks and lighting and ventilation systems (DEA press release, November 3, 2010).

   Drug traffickers also have used submarines: An estimated 6,700 kilograms of cocaine was recovered from a submerged drug smuggling vessel in the Caribbean Sea. The vessel, a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel (SPSS) was interdicted by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter on September 30, 2011, in international waters of the Caribbean some 110 miles off of the coast of Honduras. A similar recovery operation earlier in the year yielded over 6,000 kilograms of cocaine from an interdicted SPSS that also sank in the Caribbean (FBI press release, October 28, 2011).


In 2012, U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents arrested a nineteen-year-old from New York City who arrived aboard a flight from Nigeria via Kenya and Zurich, Switzerland. Customs officers detected inconsistencies with his story about visiting his family in Nigeria. While being questioned, he asked to use the bathroom where he passed fifty-five thumb-sized heroin-filled pellets. Officers took him to a local hospital where he passed an additional thirty-one pellets, also filled with heroin. The eighty-six pellets had a combined weight of more than two pounds and an approximate street value of about $78,000. Several months later, a Nigerian woman was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport after she was found to have swallowed a record 180 packs—about five pounds—of heroin with an approximate street value of $158,999.

Source:WTOP 2012Eames 2012.

   Heroin traffickers use passengers and crew on commercial vessels, particularly cruise ships, to smuggle shipments into ports in South Florida. Cocaine and lesser amounts of South American heroin are moved into Puerto Rico on ferries from the Dominican Republic. In addition, Caribbean traffickers use noncommercial vessels to smuggle cocaine and marijuana into South Florida from the Bahamas and to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic and islands in the Lesser Antilles.

Domestic Drug Business

The farther down on the drug pipeline, the more likely it is that the trafficker will be involved in the sale of more than one substance. At the retail level, the seller may be a “walking drugstore.”

   Below the wholesale level, selling cocaine, heroin, and marijuana is an easy-entry business, requiring only a source and funds. Any variety of groups can come together to deal heroin, such as street gangs, in many urban areas. The enormous profits that accrue in the drug business are part of a criminal underworld in which violence is always an attendant reality. Drug transactions must be accomplished without recourse to the formal mechanisms of dispute resolution that are usually available in the world of legitimate business. This reality leads to the creation of private mechanisms of enforcement. The drug world is filled with heavily armed and dangerous individuals in the employ of the larger cartels, although even street-level operatives are often armed:

  • Regular displays of violence are essential for preventing rip-offs by colleagues, customers, and professional holdup artists. Indeed, upward mobility in the underground economy of the street-dealing world requires a systematic and effective use of violence against one’s colleagues, one’s neighbors, and, to a certain extent, against oneself. Behavior that appears irrationally violent, “barbaric,” and ultimately self-destructive to the outsider, can be reinterpreted according to the logic of the underground economy as judicious public relations and long-term investment in one’s ‘human capital development. (Bourgois 1995, 24)

   These private resources for violence serve to limit market entry, to ward off competitors and predatory criminals, and to maintain internal discipline and security within an organization. Goldstein (1985) reports that violence in the drug trade is sometimes the result of brand deception:

  • Dealers mark an inferior quality heroin with a currently popular brand name. Users purchase the good heroin, use it, then repackage the bag with milk sugar for resale. The popular brand is purchased, the bag is “tapped,” and further diluted for resale.
  •    These practices get the real dealers of the popular brand very upset. Their heroin starts to get a bad reputation on the streets and they lose sales. Purchasers of the phony bags may accost the real dealers, complaining about the poor quality and demanding their money back. The real dealers then seek out the purveyors of the phony bags. Threats, assaults, and/or homicides may ensue (497).

   In the drug business, as Goldstein (1985) notes, norm violations—for example, a street-level dealer failing to return enough money to his superior in a drug network—often result in violence. Violence almost invariably results from the robbery of a drug dealer. No dealer who wants to remain in the business can allow himself to be robbed without exacting vengeance. Death is also the punishment for a norm violation that, although serious, is nevertheless widespread in the drug business: informing. Informing can be the means of eliminating competition or exacting vengeance for the sale of poor-quality dope, but more often, informing results from an attempt to gain leniency from the criminal justice system.

   Occasionally, distinct patterns of injury can be recognized. For example, drug runners—teenagers who carry drugs and money between sellers and buyers—are seen in the emergency room with gunshot wounds to the legs and knees. A more vicious drug-related injury has emerged in the western part of the United States. In this injury, known as “pithing,” the victim’s spinal cord is cut, and he or she is left alive but paraplegic (De La Rosa, Lambert, and Gropper 1990).

   The domestic business of cocaine requires only a connection to a Colombian source and sufficient financing to initiate the first buy. Any variety of people several steps removed from the Colombian source are involved in the domestic cocaine business. Because the cocaine clientele is traditionally at least middle-income, distributors likewise tend to come from the (otherwise) respectable middle class. The popularity of crack, however, dramatically altered the drug market at the consumer level, in particular the age of many retailers. Inciardi and Pottieger (1991), both experienced drug researchers, were shocked by the youthfulness of crack dealers compared with those involved in the heroin business: “While both patterns ensnare youth in their formative years, crack dealers are astonishingly more involved in a drug-crime lifestyle at an alarmingly younger age” (269).

   In several areas of the United States, particularly in New York City and Los Angeles, the relatively stable neighborhood criminal organizations that once dominated the heroin and cocaine trade found new competitors: youthful crack dealers. Entry into the crack trade requires only a small investment since an ounce of cocaine can be converted to 2,500 milligrams of crack. Street gangs or groups of friends and relatives entered the market, often resulting in competition that touched off explosive violence involving the use of high-powered handguns and automatic weapons.

   The dramatic drop in homicides during the 1990s has been linked to the decline of crack (Butterfield 1997). In New York City, according to Egan (1999c), “in communities that used to have more open-air crack markets than grocery stores, where children grew up dodging crack vials and gunfire, the change from a decade ago is startling. On the surface, crack has disappeared from much of New York, taking with it the ragged and violent vignettes that were a routine part of street life” (1). New York’s experience has been replicated in other major cities that had been plagued by the crack epidemic. In a dramatic change in attitude toward crack, “crackheads” became community pariahs. The remaining crack market has moved indoors, or dealers use cellular phones to arrange sales, typically to users who are considerably older than the adolescents who once made up the core of the crack scene.

   Some street gangs have also been expanding their organizations and drug markets to other states. Members of Los Angeles gangs, in particular the “Crips,” have moved into Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and Kansas City as well as smaller cities throughout California. Along with their smaller rival group, the “Bloods,” the Crips moved east with startling speed. “Neither gang is rigidly hierarchical. Both are broken up into loosely affiliated neighborhood groups called ‘sets,’ each with 30 to 100 members. Many gang members initially left Southern California to evade police. Others simply expanded the reach of crack by setting up branch operations in places where they visited friends or family members and discovered that the market was ripe” (Witkin 1991, 51).

   Participants in these drug networks, Mieczkowski (1986) notes, tend to be the most serious drug delinquents hired by adult or older adolescent street drug sellers as runners. They are organized into crews of three to twelve individuals, each member handling a small amount of drugs they receive “on credit” from a supplier. They are expected to return about 50 to 70 percent of the drug’s street value. In addition to distributing drugs, youngsters may act as lookouts, recruit customers, and guard street sellers from customer-robbers. Their drug employment is not steady and interspersed with other crimes such as robbery and burglary. “A relatively small number of youngsters who sell drugs develop excellent entrepreneurial skills. Their older contacts come to trust them, and they parlay this trust to advance in the drug business. By the time they are 18 or 19 they can have several years of experience in drug sales, be bosses of their own crews, and handle more than $500,000 a year” (Chaiken and Johnson 1988, 12).

   Mieczkowski (1986) studied the activities of The Young Boys, Inc., a loosely organized retail heroin group in Detroit. At the center of their activities is a “crew boss,” who receives his supply of heroin from a drug syndicate lieutenant. The crew boss gives a consignment of heroin to each of his seven to twenty recruits, “runners,” typically African American males ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-three years old. Each runner then takes his station on a street adjacent to a public roadway to facilitate purchases from vehicles. To avoid rip-offs and robberies, each crew is guarded by armed men, including the crew boss himself. Runners reported earning about $160 for a workday lasting about ten hours.

   The net profits in heroin for most participants at the street level are rather modest. While dealers typically work long hours and subject themselves to substantial risk of violence and incarceration, their incomes generally range from $1,000 to $2,000 a month. Less successful participants eke out a living that rivals that of minimum wage. Many get involved to support their own drug habits, to supplement earnings from legitimate employment, or both. The sale of cocaine and crack is carried out by thousands of small-time operators who may dominate particular local markets—a public housing complex, city blocks, or simply street corners. Control is exercised through violence. Income is modest considering the dangers of death or imprisonment, and the sellers often work for less than minimum wage—for example, $30 a day for acting as a lookout, or fifty cents for each vial of crack sold. These may add up to $100 to $200 per week for long hours under unpleasant conditions without unemployment compensation, medical insurance, or any of the usual benefits of legitimate employment. A study in Washington, D.C., found that a majority of drug sellers in the sample did not sell drugs on a daily basis. Their median annual income was about $10,000. Those who sold daily earned about $3,600 a month (Reuter, MacCoun, and Murphy 1990).

   At the retail level, sellers frequently deal several different drugs. Heroin dealers added cocaine to their portfolio when that substance started becoming popular at the end of the 1970s. Crack dealers reflected a shift in the market by also selling heroin (Chitwood, Comerford, and Weatherby 1998).

   Chaiken and Johnson (1988) state that small drug sales are common among adult users and some adolescents distribute drugs without being involved in more serious criminal activity. These dealers sell drugs to adolescent friends and relatives less than once a month to support their own drug use, and “most of these adolescents do not consider these activities ‘serious crimes’” (10). They rarely have contact with criminal justice agencies: “Since these youths conceal their illicit behavior from most adults, and are likely to participate in many conventional activities with children their age, criminal justice practitioners can take little direct action to prevent occasional adolescent sellers from distributing drugs and recruiting new users” (11).

   Like more conventional consumer items, drugs sold at the street level often carry a name and/or logo to promote “brand loyalty.” “Among the more important marketing techniques are attractive packaging (stamps), name recognition (brand names), and consumer involvement and camaraderie around drug-consuming activities (product name contests). Moreover, product names … reflect strong, positive attributes and notions of success, strength, power, excitement, and wealth, encourage consumers to make symbolic connections with these products” (Waterston 1993, 117).

Open-Air Markets

Open-air markets represent the lowest level of the drug distribution network and operate in geographically well-defined areas at identifiable times so buyers and sellers can locate one another with ease. Some open-air markets are operated by groups with clear hierarchies and well-defined job functions. Others consist of fragmented and fluid systems populated by small groups of opportunistic entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds.

   The nature of open-air markets makes participants vulnerable to law enforcement and ripoffs. In response to the risks of law enforcement, open markets tend to transform into closed markets where sellers do business only with buyers they know. Intensive law enforcement can quickly transform open markets into closed ones.

   Drug dealing in open-air markets generates or contributes to a wide range of social disorder and drug-related crime in the surrounding community that can have a marked effect on the local residents’ quality of life. However, simply arresting market participants will have little impact in reducing the size of the market or the amount of drugs consumed. This is especially true of low-level markets where if one dealer is arrested, there are, more than likely, several others to take their place. Moreover, drug markets can be highly responsive to enforcement efforts but the form of that response is sometimes an adaptation that leads to unintended consequences, including displacement or increased revenue for dealers with fewer competitors.

   Some researchers challenge the displacement thesis. They argue that police focus on a particular drug market does not cause dealers to “move around the corner.” Drug dealers, like legitimate entrepreneurs, such as auto dealers and restaurants, often find it advantageous to cluster. Clustering draws a larger customer base that, despite competition, profits all participants in the manner of a farmer’s market. It also affords more protection than isolated dealing, the reason why buffalo herd, birds flock, and fish school. Focused police action, therefore, results in a diffusion benefit: drug trafficking becoming less profitable and smaller in size.

Source:Harocopos and Hough 2005Taniguchi, Rengert, and McCord 2009.

   Colombians franchised to criminals from the Dominican Republic a portion of the midlevel wholesale cocaine and heroin trade on the East Coast of the United States. The Dominican trafficking groups, already firmly entrenched as low-level cocaine and heroin wholesalers in the larger northeastern cities, were uniquely placed to assume a far more significant role in this multibillion-dollar business. While Colombian groups remain in control of most of the sources of supply, Dominican organizations are also obtaining cocaine and heroin directly from Mexican sources at the Southwest Border and from sources in the Caribbean in order to lower purchase costs and increase profit margins. As a result of these relationships, Dominicans are also distributing marijuana and ice methamphetamine throughout the East Coast (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009e). The center of the Dominican wholesale drug trade is the uptown Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. In recent years, some of the leaders have slipped out of New York and are running operations from their homeland, where corruption is endemic among airport officials and law enforcement.

   Dominicans have demonstrated the necessary talent for moving large amounts of heroin and crack cocaine. They generally provide top-quality uncut drugs at competitive prices, avoiding the common practice of diluting the product as it passes through the distribution chain. Often operating out of grocery stores, bars, and restaurants in Latino neighborhoods, they employ a variety of marketing gimmicks to move their product. In Philadelphia, they sold heroin packets with lottery tickets attached that a winner could use to claim an additional twelve packets.

   Jamaican organizations distribute marijuana in the New York metropolitan area. They obtain supplies from Mexican distributors, either locally or in southwestern drug markets. Additionally, some transport tons of marijuana from Jamaica aboard maritime conveyances. Jamaicans dominate marijuana distribution in sections of Manhattan, the Bronx, most of Queens (particularly the Jamaican section of southwestern Queens), northern Brooklyn, and sections of northern New Jersey (National Drug Intelligence Center 2009f, 5–6).

   PCP, LSD, methamphetamine, and barbiturates are produced in domestic laboratories, and marijuana is grown in the United States and Canada. The people and groups that manufacture and traffic in these drugs are quite varied: white, rural, working- and middle-class individuals are as likely to be involved as any other racial or ethnic group. For example, there is little or no pattern to marijuana trafficking in the United States. It is an easy-entry business, and a number of relatives, friendship groups, and former military veterans have come together to “do marijuana.”

   In the rural Appalachia, a relatively high poverty rate contributes to an acceptance of cannabis cultivation as a source of income by many local residents Some residents in impoverished communities regard marijuana production as a necessary means of supplementing their low incomes. In many of these communities, cannabis cultivation is a multigenerational trade—young family members are introduced to the trade by older members who have produced marijuana for many years. Appalachia has a highly accessible transportation system, including major roadways that link it to many domestic drug markets ((National Drug Intelligence Center 2009f), 2009).

   Production of methamphetamine has blossomed in parts of rural America. In Texas, labs are located in rural areas and usually set up and run by local residents similar to the operation of small-scale production and distribution of moonshine whiskey during the Prohibition Era (Spence 1989). The number of meth labs seized in North Carolina has increased dramatically and about half have been in the rural mountain area in the western part of the state. Similar activity has been reported in rural communities in Tennessee and Georgia. In 2002, in the state of Washington’s rural Snohomish County, there were more methamphetamine lab seizures than in New York, Pennsylvania, and New England combined (Egan 2002). In farming communities, isolation and the easy availability of one of the drug’s main ingredients, anhydrous ammonia, have spawned methamphetamine production (Butterfield 2004b).

   Outlaw chemists have been stealing anhydrous ammonia, normally used for fertilizer, for converting it into methamphetamine using Birch reduction; that is, the so-called “Nazi method.”1 Anhydrous ammonia is stored as a liquid under pressure; however, it becomes a toxic gas when released to the environment. Anhydrous ammonia can be harmful to individuals who come into contact with it or inhale airborne concentrations of the gas. When stolen, the toxic gas can be unintentionally released, causing injuries to emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, the public, and the criminals themselves. While the labs are inexpensive for dealers to set up, the cost to the taxpayers for cleanup ranges from $5,000 to $100,000 per lab and is accomplished by crews wearing hazardous material suits for protection from fumes and deadly liquids (Brevorka 2002Dewan and Brown 2009).

   According to federal data, there are tens of thousands of contaminated residences whose victims include low-income elderly people whose homes were used surreptitiously by relatives and landlords whose tenants leave them with toxic messes. There are hundreds of vacant and quarantined properties, particularly in Western and Southern states; some purchased by buyers who discovered the contamination as a result of illnesses caused by the toxic residue (Dewan and Brown 2009).

   A report by the United Nations points to a change in the methamphetamine market: “Over the last few years, the methamphetamine market has moved from being a cottage-type industry (with many small-scale manufacturing operations) to more of a cocaine- or heroin-type market, characterized by a higher level of integration and involvement of organized crime groups that control the entire chain from the provision of precursors, to manufacture and trafficking of the end-product” (Amephetamines and Ecstasy2008, 17). In 2012, Mexican authorities seized 136 tons of methamphetamine precursor chemicals (phenylacetate and monomethylamine) from China at a port in the state of Michoacán. The prior week, thirty-six tons were seized in the port of Veracruz, also from China (Looft 2012).

   The vast majority of MDMA (Ecstasy) consumed in the Unites States is produced in Europe—primarily the Netherlands and Belgium—and Canada; domestic production is limited. Overseas Ecstasy-trafficking organizations smuggle the drug in shipments of 10,000 or more tablets via express mail services, couriers aboard commercial airline flights, or air freight shipments from several major European cities to cities in the United States. While Ecstasy costs as little as 25 cents per pill to produce, wholesale prices range from $5 to $20, and retail prices range from $10 to $50 a dose. Traffickers in Ecstasy use brand names and logos as marketing tools and to distinguish their product from those of competitors. The logos are produced to coincide with holidays or special events. Among the more popular logos are butterflies, lightning bolts, and four-leaf clovers (Office of National Drug Control Policy 2004e).

   Fewer than a dozen chemists are believed to be manufacturing nearly all of the LSD available in the United States. Some have probably been operating since the 1960s. LSD manufacturers and traffickers can be separated into two groups. The first group, located in northern California, is composed of chemists (commonly referred to as “cooks”) and traffickers who work together in close association; typically, they are major producers who are capable of distributing LSD nationwide. The second group is made up of independent producers who, operating on a comparatively limited scale, can be found throughout the country; their production is intended for local consumption (Drug Enforcement Administration n.d.a).

   LSD chemists and top-echelon traffickers form an insiders’ fraternity of sorts. They have remained at large because there are so few of them. Their exclusivity is not surprising, given that LSD synthesis is a difficult process to master. Although cooks need not be formally trained chemists, they must adhere to precise and complex production procedures. In instances in which the cook is not a chemist, the production recipe most likely was passed on by personal instruction from a formally trained chemist. At the highest levels of the traffic, at which LSD crystal is purchased in gram or multiple-gram quantities from wholesale sources of supply, it rarely is diluted with adulterants, a common practice with cocaine, heroin, and other illicit drugs. However, to prepare the crystal for production in retail dosage units, it must be diluted with binding agents or be dissolved and diluted in liquids. The dilution of LSD crystal typically follows a standard, predetermined recipe to ensure uniformity of the final product. Excessive dilution yields less potent dosage units that soon become unmarketable (Drug Enforcement Administration n.d.b).

Money Laundering

Money laundering is “to knowingly engage in a financial transaction with the proceeds of some unlawful activity with the intent of promoting or carrying on that unlawful activity or to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of these proceeds” (Genzman 1988, 1). According to the U.S. Treasury Department, money laundering is “the process by which criminals or criminal organizations seek to disguise the illicit nature of their proceeds by introducing them into the stream of legitimate commerce and finance” (Motivans 2003, 1).

   Drug traffickers operating at the upper levels of the business have a serious problem: What to do with the large amounts of cash the business is continually generating? Ever since Al Capone was imprisoned for income tax evasion, successful criminals have sought to launder their illegally secured money. Further complicating the problem is that this cash is frequently in small denominations. In some cases “laundering” may simply be an effort to secure hundred-dollar bills so that the sums of money are more easily handled (500 bills weigh about one pound).

   Modern financial systems permit criminals to instantly transfer millions of dollars through personal computers and satellite dishes. Money is laundered through currency exchange houses, stock brokerage houses, gold dealers, casinos, automobile dealerships, insurance companies, and trading companies. “The use of private banking facilities, offshore banking, free trade zones, wire systems, shell corporations, and trade financing all have the ability to mask illegal activities. The criminal’s choice of money laundering vehicles is limited only by his or her creativity” (U.S. Department of State 1999, 3).

   Money laundering has been greatly facilitated by advances in banking technology. A customer can instruct his or her personal computer to direct a bank’s computer to transfer money from a U.S. account to one in a foreign bank. The bank’s computer then tells a banking clearinghouse that assists in the transfer—no person talks to another. While depositing more than $10,000 in cash into an account requires the filing of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR), the government receives more than 16 million such reports annually and is hopelessly behind in reviewing them (see Figure 9.5). A CTR is required for each deposit, withdrawal, or exchange of currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000. It must be submitted to the IRS within fifteen days of the transaction. In 1984, tax amendments extended the reporting requirements to anyone who receives more than $10,000 in cash in the course of a trade or business. A Currency and Monetary Instrument Report (CMIR) must be filed for cash or certain monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 in value that enter or leave the United States. Federal Reserve regulations require banks to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) when they suspect possible criminal wrongdoing in transactions.


Currency Transaction Report

   The Internet facilitates money laundering. A launderer establishes a company—the Abadinsky Computer Co.—offering high-end products over the Internet. The launderer purchases products from the Abadinsky Computer Co. over the Internet using credit cards. The Abadinsky Computer Co. invoices the credit card company that, in turn, forwards payment for the purchases. “The credit card company, the Internet service provider, the Internet invoicing service, and even the bank from which the illegal proceeds begin this process would likely have no reason to believe there was anything suspicious about the activity, since they each only see one part of it” (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering 2001, 4).

   Some criminals use casinos for the same purpose or to convert cash from small denominations to $100 bills. Casinos were made subject to the Bank Secrecy Act in 1970, so purchasing large amounts of chips while engaging in minimal gambling attracts unwanted casino attention. In response, collusive pairs began betting large amounts on both “red and black” or “odd and even” on roulette, or both with and against the bank in baccarat, or both the “pass line” or “come line” and the “don’t pass line” or “don’t come line” in craps. The “winning partner” then cashes in his or her chips and gets a casino check. Some will cash out chips multiple times a day at different times or at different windows/cages keeping the amount of each transaction below $10,000 to avoid the filing of a CTR.

   In some schemes, money launderers use dozens of persons (called “smurfs”) to convert cash into money orders and cashier’s checks that do not specify payees or are made out to fictitious persons. Each transaction is held to less than $10,000 (called “structuring”) to avoid the need for a CTR. “Smurfing” has now been made a federal crime, and increased bank scrutiny has made tellers suspicious of cash transactions just under $10,000.

   Transactions involving the proceeds of drug trafficking often consist of large amounts of cash in small denominations. In such instances, the first step is to convert the small bills into hundreds—$1 million in $20 bills weighs 110 pounds; in $100 bills, it weighs only 22 pounds. To avoid IRS reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act, transfers of cash to cashier’s checks or $100 bills must take place in amounts under $10,000 or through banking officials who agree not to fill out a CTR. The cash can then be bulk-shipped over the U.S.-Mexican border where outgoing vehicles do not encounter the same scrutiny of those entering the United States (GAO 2010).

   The use of prepaid cash cards offers a compact, easily transportable way of moving money. Profits from crime are used to buy cards that can be used to connect to ATMs or for debit purposes. Cash is loaded onto the cards and then moved out of the country. The cards can be re-loaded over the Internet. Launderers typically use open system cards since they can be used at a myriad of stores, merchants, or automated teller machines within and outside the United States. These cards can be purchased on-line or in person. Open system cards may not require a bank account or face-to-face verification of the cardholder’s identity. While anyone leaving the country with $10,000 or more in cash must submit a CMIR, cash cards are exempt. Some cards can process tens of thousands of dollars a month; load them in Texas with the proceeds of cocaine sales and collect the cash in local currency from an ATM in Colombia.

   Money laundering is facilitated by a variety of private banking operations, formal and informal. In the United States, commercial banks and securities firms may offer special banking services to wealthy persons who deposit $1 million or more. The bank assigns a private banker or broker-dealer in securities who facilitates complex wire transfers throughout the world and creates offshore accounts. An investment manager for a major securities firm in New York pled guilty in 2005 to laundering $15 million in drug proceeds generated by Mexico’s Gulf cartel. Using a system known as layering, she coordinated the establishment of offshore corporations as well as offshore accounts in the names of third parties with the funds ultimately winding up back in the firm’s accounts under the names of fictitious persons (Berkeley 2002; Preston 2005c). As part of an overseas laundering scheme, a lawyer acting on behalf of a client creates a “paper” (or “boilerplate”) company in any one of a number of countries that have strict privacy statutes, such as Panama, which has about 400,000 registered offshore banks and companies The tiny Western and Pacific islands of Cook, the Marshalls, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, and Vanuatu have more than 18,000 registered banks and companies, Naura, with a population of about 12,000, has 450 banks registered to a single post office box. The U.K.-administered Cayman Islands, located south of Cuba, an easy flight from either Florida or Colombia, is 100 miles square and has a population of only 23,400. Yet there are about 600 banks and 20,000 registered companies on the Cayman Islands. The island’s Georgetown financial district has the highest density of banks and fax machines in the world. Most banks are simply “plaques” or box offices—no vaults, tellers, or security guards—with transactions recorded by Cayman booking centers. Virtually anyone can “establish his or her own shell company for a few thousand dollars in legal fees, open a local bank account and, because the required disclosure is minimal and business operates behind a wall of strict secrecy, no one need know about the company or what funds are stashed there.

   The funds to be laundered are transferred physically or wired to the company’s account in a local bank. The company then transfers the money to the local branch of a large international bank. The paper company is then able to borrow money from the United States (or any other) branch of this bank, using the overseas deposit as security. Or an employment contract is set up between the launderer and his or her “paper” company for an imaginary service for which payments are made to the launderer. In some cases, the lawyer may also establish a “boilerplate bank”—like the company, this is a shell. Not only does the criminal get his money laundered, but he also earns a tax write-off for the interest on the loan. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, wiring or physically transporting cash or other financial instruments out of the country in excess of $10,000 must be reported to the Customs Service. Once the money is out of the United States, however, it may be impossible for the IRS to trace it. In some schemes, the money is returned to the United States or other destination via the purchase of life insurance policies from the British Isle of Man, a center for international insurance firms. The policies frequently taken out in the name of relatives are then cashed out prematurely, the 25 percent penalty being part of the cost of the operation.

   Trade-based money laundering (TBML) involves use of the international trade system to disguise illicit proceeds to make it appear as legitimate. TBML can be accomplished through the use of informal banking systems such as the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE), in which one or more “peso brokers” serve as middlemen between, on one hand, drug traffickers who control massive quantities of drug cash in the United States, and, on the other, companies and individuals in Colombia who wish to purchase U.S. dollars outside the legitimate Colombian banking system so that they can, among other things, avoid the payment of taxes, import duties, and transaction fees owed to the Colombian government. Transactions are verbal, without any paper trail, and the disconnection between the peso transactions (which generally all occur in Colombia) and the dollar transactions (which generally all occur outside Colombia) make discovery of the money laundering by international law enforcement extremely difficult. Because of these inherent advantages, the BMPE system has become one of the primary methods by which Colombian traffickers launder their illicit funds (Drug Enforcement Administration 2004).

   More stringent federal laws against money laundering, along with anti-money laundering measures adopted by traditional financial institutions, have forced criminal organizations to shift the movement of their illicit proceeds outside of the established financial industry. To avoid scrutiny of law enforcement, criminals smuggle bulk cash into, out of, and through the United States.

   Criminals employ nontraditional methods to move funds, such as the chop and hawala. The chop is in effect a negotiable instrument that can be cashed in Chinese gold shops or trading houses in many countries. The value and identity of the holder of the chop is a secret between the parties. “The form of chop varies from transaction to transaction and is difficult to identify. In effect, the chop system allows money to be transferred from country to country instantaneously and anonymously” (Chaiken 1991, 495). For example, $100,000 in cash is deposited in a San Francisco Chinatown gold shop in return for a chop. The chop is sent by courier to Hong Kong where the gold shop’s associate, usually a relative, gives $100,000 dollars minus a transaction fee to the possessor of chop.

   Another informal system, the hawala, is similar to the modern practice of “wiring money,” was the primary money transfer mechanism used in South Asia prior to the introduction of Western banking. “Hawala operates on trust and connections (‘trust’ is one of the several meanings associated with the word ‘hawala’). Customers trust hawala ‘bankers’ (known as hawaladars) who use their connections to facilitate money movement worldwide. Hawala transfers take place with little, if any, paper trail, and, when records are kept, they are usually kept in code” (U.S. Department of State 1999, 22). In Pakistan, for example, $100,000 (plus a transaction fee) is given to a hawaladar who provides a code term. Via the Internet, the hawalader informs his broker in the Cayman Islands, where someone who provides the code term is given $100,000 to deposit in an island account.

   In both systems, money is never actually moved, and periodically brokers balance their respective transactions, usually by wire transfers using goods and invoices as a cover. In the United States, there are an estimated 20,000 informal remittance businesses working out of a variety of convenience stores, restaurants, and small shops whose owners speak languages unfamiliar to Westerners such as Arabic, Urdu, Hindu, and a variety of Chinese dialects (Freedman 2005).

   Money laundering is facilitated through the use of digital currency, privately owned online payment systems that allow international payments denominated in the standard weights for gold and other precious metals. While digital currency transactions can be traced back to an individual’s computer, proxy servers and anonymity networks protect a person’s identity by obscuring the unique IP (Internet protocol) address as well as the individuals’ true location, And mobile payments conducted from anonymous prepaid cellular devices may be impossible to trace to an individual. After a single transaction, the device can be destroyed to prevent forensic analysis. Digital currency account holders may also use public Internet terminals or even “hijacked” wireless Internet connections to access their digital currency accounts, causing transactions to appear to originate with the unsuspecting Internet subscriber. Users of digital currency may encrypt their transmissions to conceal communications between individuals, making law enforcement scrutiny more difficult (NDIC 2008b).

   Our examination of the business of illegal drugs provides a framework for understanding the problems that confront law enforcement officials who are trying to constrain trafficking in dangerous drugs, the topic of the next chapter.

Chapter Summary

  • 1. Appreciate that the law of supply and demand governs the illegal drug market:
    • • Only the law of supply and demand governs drug trafficking and the business shares some elements with the business of selling legal products: lots of working capital, steady supplies of raw materials, sophisticated manufacturing facilities, reliable shipping contractors, and wholesale distributors.
    • • At the manufacturing and importation levels, the drug business is usually concentrated among a relatively few people who head major trafficking organizations; at the retail level, it is filled with a large, fluctuating, and open-ended number of dealers and consumers.
  • 2. Know the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism:
    • • Relationships between drug traffickers and terrorists can be mutually beneficial and a number of terrorist groups use drug trafficking to further their political ends.
    • • In the Far East, Middle East, and Latin America drug trafficking has been used to support insurgencies.
  • 3. Understand why Colombia, Mexico, the Golden Triangle, and the Golden Crescent are the source of most of the world’s illegal drugs:
    • • Mexican and Colombian organizations maintain control of their workers through highly compartmentalized cell structures that separate production, shipment, distribution, money laundering, communications, security, and recruitment.
    • • Colombia is the only country in the world where the three main plant-based illegal drugs—cocaine, heroin, and marijuana—are produced in significant amounts.
    • • Colombians dominate the cocaine industry because of the country’s geography, momentum gained by early involvement in the cocaine trade, and a reputation for violence.
    • • With market advantages that include geographic proximity to the United States and established distribution networks, by 1999, Colombians had become major heroin wholesalers.
    • • Although originally business partners, Colombians now have to compete with Mexican organizations for the U.S. market.
    • • Mexico-based organizations are the only drug traffickers operating in every region of the United States.
    • • Mexican trafficking organizations grew powerful amidst a culture of political corruption.
    • • Violence between Mexican trafficking organizations is usually the result of fighting to control of key corridors, or “plazas” into the United States.
    • • In the Golden Triangle, the tradition of using drugs to help finance military efforts continues as various ethnic groups press demands for autonomy from Myanmar.
    • • Like the Golden Triangle, drug trafficking has traditionally supported tribal feuds and insurgencies in the Golden Crescent.
    • • The efforts of the United States to deal with drug trafficking in Afghanistan have been compromised by efforts to deal with the Taliban.
  • 4. Know the many ways to smuggle drugs into the United States:
    • • The length and remoteness of the 1,933-mile-long border between Mexico and the United States make patrolling very difficult and facilitates drug smuggling.
    • • Mexican drug traffickers have proven adept at overcoming efforts to thwart drug smuggling.
    • • Drugs are also smuggled by “swallowers.”
  • 5. Understand the persons and groups that operate at the retail level of drug trafficking:
    • • The farther down on the drug pipeline, the more likely it is that the trafficker will be involved in the sale of more than one substance.
    • • Drug transactions must be accomplished without recourse to the formal mechanisms of dispute resolution that are usually available in the world of legitimate business.
    • • While street dealers typically work long hours and subject themselves to substantial risk of violence and incarceration, net profits for most are rather modest.
  • 6. Appreciate why rural areas have become hospitable to marijuana cultivation and methamphetamine production:
    • • The availability of remote spots provide “meth labs” with the isolation they require.
    • • Farmlands provide fertile soil for marijuana.
  • 7. Know how and why upper-level drug traffickers engage in money laundering:
    • • Money laundering is to knowingly engage in a financial transaction with the proceeds of some unlawful activity with the intent of promoting or carrying on that unlawful activity or to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of these proceeds.
    • • Money laundering can be accomplished in a wide variety of ways.
    • • Financial institutions are required to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for transactions in excess of $10,000 and to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) when money laundering is suspected.

Review Questions

  • 1. What does drug trafficking have in common with the business of selling legal products?
  • 2. How did the demise of the French Connection affect the drug business?
  • 3. How does the leadership of major trafficking organizations maintain tight control of their workers?
  • 4. What are the advantages of compartmentalization for drug traffickers?
  • 5. How can ties between drug traffickers and terrorists be mutually beneficial?
  • 6. Why have Colombians been able to dominate the cocaine industry?
  • 7. What led to Colombian entry into the heroin business?
  • 8. Originally business partners, why do Colombians now have to compete with Mexican organizations for the U.S. market?
  • 9. What is the cause of much of the violence between Mexican trafficking organizations?
  • 10. Why is marijuana especially attractive to Mexican-based traffickers?
  • 11. What is the connection between the Vietnam War and drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle?
  • 12. Why do the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent areas have a tradition of heroin trafficking?
  • 13. Why have efforts of the United States to deal with heroin trafficking in Afghanistan been compromised?
  • 14. Why are drug transactions so dangerous?
  • 15. Why was the crack business so violent?
  • 16. Why, despite low profit to risk ratios, do young men persist in the street-level drug business?
  • 17. What are the conflicting views of the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts against “Open Air Drug Markets”?
  • 18. Why is it so expensive to clean up methamphetamine labs?
  • 19. Why do major drug traffickers engage in money laundering?
  • 20. What is the purpose of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR)?
  • 21. What is the responsibility of a financial institution when money laundering is suspected?
  • 22. What are the ways in which money laundering can be accomplished?


Emblem of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

After reading this chapter, you will:

  • ▸ Appreciate that the single most important factor in drug use is degree of access
  • ▸ Know that drug law enforcement is constrained by constitutional requirements, jurisdictional limitations, and corruption
  • ▸ Know the federal agencies responsible for combating drug trafficking
  • ▸ Understand the three categories of street-level drug enforcement

Drug “Enforcement”

At a police corruption trial, the ex-undercover NYPD officer testified that detectives were paid extra overtime for heroin and cocaine arrests: two-hours overtime pay per arrest. The officers on trial are accused of “flaking” suspects; that is, planting drugs on innocent victims. Drugs were skimmed from legitimate seizures before being inventoried for the purpose of flaking. The witness testified that he was socialized into this practice on the first day he was assigned to undercover drug work in Brooklyn. The cops he worked with routinely diverted funds for drug buys to personal use.

Source:Marzulli, Parascandola, and McShane 2011.

 This year [2009] marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s start of the war on drugs, and it now appears that drugs have won.

Nicholas D. Kristoff (200910)

“The most important precipitating factor in narcotic addiction is degree of access to narcotic drugs” (Ausubel 1980, 4), an assertion that is supported by research into heroin consumption (Anglin 1988). This is why drug use is higher in the inner city than in the suburbs and why the incidence of illegal drug use in the United States approached the zero level during World War II. This also helps explain the relatively high level of drug abuse among physicians, in particular, anesthesiologists whose specialty offers ready access to fentanyl (McDougall 2006). Research indicates that adolescent use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana is related to access, hence the rationale for efforts aimed at imposing barriers to access (Steen 2010). “Thus, no matter how great the cultural attitudinal tolerance for addictive practices is, or how strong individual personality predispositions are, nobody can become addicted to narcotic drugs without access to them. Hence the logic of a law enforcement component in prevention” (Ausubel 1980, 4).

   If drug use is seen as based on some combination of susceptibility and availability—“that drug abuse occurs when a prone individual is exposed to a high level of availability” (R. S. Smart 1980, 46)—it follows that a considerable reduction in availability can reduce drug use. That is, of course, if we discount the use of alcohol and tobacco, and the possibility—or probability—that people unable to secure their preferred substance will switch to alcohol.

   Availability also involves questions of cost. At some point, then, the cost of purchasing a drug can reduce to near zero its availability to potential abusers, and law enforcement efforts can affect the cost of illegal drugs.

   Before we can examine the strategies and techniques that law enforcement agencies use to deal with drug trafficking and to reduce the availability of drugs, we need to consider three issues that severely constrain law enforcement in general and drug law enforcement in particular: constitutional restraints, jurisdictional limitations, and corruption.

Constitutional Restraints

Law enforcement agencies in the United States operate under significant constraints written into the U.S. Constitution, generally referred to as due process—literally meaning the process that is due a person before something disadvantageous can be done to him or her. Due process restrains government from arbitrarily depriving a person of life, liberty, or property. There is an inherent tension between society’s desire for security and safety and the value we place on liberty. Packer (1968) refers to this as a conflict between two conceptual models of criminal justice: crime control and due process.

   Due process, while it protects individual liberty, also benefits the criminal population by guaranteeing the right to remain silent (Fifth Amendment), the right to counsel (Sixth Amendment), the right to be tried speedily by an impartial jury (Sixth Amendment), and the right to confront witnesses (Sixth Amendment). The Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule are particularly important for drug law enforcement.

The Fourth Amendment and the Exclusionary Rule

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In practice, information sufficient to justify a search warrant in drug cases is difficult to obtain; in contrast to such conventional crimes as robbery and burglary, there is an absence of innocent victims who will report the crime in drug cases. The exclusionary rule is the court’s way of enforcing the Fourth Amendment; it provides that evidence that is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be entered as evidence in a criminal trial (Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 1914; Mapp v. Ohio, 357 U.S. 643, 1961), although there are a number of exceptions that are beyond the scope of this book. The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to control the behavior of law enforcement agents, for example, making drug enforcement efforts that violate the Constitution not worth the effort.

   To respond effectively to drug trafficking, law enforcement officials require information about the activities of suspected traffickers. The Fourth Amendment and Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (18 U.S.C. Section 2510-520) place restraints on how the government can secure this information. Thus, to surreptitiously intercept conversations by wiretapping telephones or using electronic devices (“bugging”), officials must secure a court order that, like a search warrant, must be based on information that is sufficient to meet the legal standard of probable cause. When an order to intercept electronic communications is secured (generally referred to as a “Title III”), it is quite limited, requires extensive documentation, and demands that the people whose communications are being intercepted be notified after the order expires. These requirements make electronic surveillance expensive, in terms of personnel hours expended, and difficult to accomplish properly.

   The supervision of drug law enforcement agents is also difficult because they typically operate covertly or undercover. This means that “legal control over agents is problematic, and the circumstances of arrest are often such that there is a great temptation to perjury, violation of the exclusionary rule, misuse of informants, discretionary dropping, overlooking and altering charges, and other violations of procedural and/or legal rules” (J. Williams, Redlinger, and Manning 1979, 6). The greater the pressure on law enforcement officers “to do something about drugs,” the greater is the temptation to avoid the significant constraints of due process and take unlawful (though often effective) shortcuts.

Jurisdictional Limitations

The U.S. Constitution provides for a form of government in which powers are diffused horizontally and vertically: three branches—legislative, judicial, and executive—and four levels—federal, state, county, and municipal—of government (Figure 10.1). Although each level of government has responsibilities for responding to drug abuse and drug trafficking, there is little or no coordination among them. Each level responds to the problem of drugs independently of the others. Federalism was part of a deliberate design to help protect us against tyranny; unfortunately, it also provides us with a level of inefficiency that significantly handicaps efforts to curtail drug trafficking.


Governmental Complexity

   On the federal level, a host of executive branch agencies (to be examined later), ranging from the military to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are responsible for combating drug trafficking. The separate federal judicial system is responsible for trying drug cases, and the legislative branch is responsible for enacting drug legislation and allocating funds for federal drug law enforcement efforts. At the local level are about 20,000 police agencies. Each state has state-level drug law enforcement agents, a state police or similar agency, and agencies that manage prisons and the parole system (if one exists). County government is usually responsible for prosecuting defendants, and a county-level agency, usually the sheriff, is responsible for operating jails. The county may also have a police department with drug law enforcement responsibilities under, or independent of, the sheriff’s office, and almost every municipality has a police department whose officers enforce drug laws. Each of these levels of government has taxing authority and allocates resources with little or no consultation with other levels of government. The sum total is a degree of inefficiency surpassing that of most other democratic nations.

   U.S. efforts against drug trafficking are also limited by national boundaries: Cocaine and heroin originate where U.S. law enforcement has no jurisdiction. The Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, which is part of the State Department, has primary responsibility for coordinating international programs and gaining the cooperation of foreign governments in antidrug efforts. But the bureau has no authority to force governments to act in a manner that is beneficial to U.S. efforts in dealing with cocaine or heroin. Sciolino (1988) reports that the bureau “has little influence even within the [State] department. Foreign Service officers readily admit that they try to avoid drug-enforcement assignments because they generally do not result in promotions” (E3). The State Department also collects intelligence on policy-level international narcotics developments, while the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) collects strategic narcotics intelligence and is responsible for coordinating foreign intelligence on narcotics. The CIA, however, has often protected drug traffickers who have provided useful foreign intelligence. U.S. efforts against drug trafficking are often sacrificed to foreign policy (Sciolino and Engelberg 1988).

International Efforts

In 1988, the International Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was adopted in Vienna, Austria, with two main purposes:

  • First, to establish an internationally recognized set of offenses relating to drug trafficking that are to be criminalized under the domestic law of the parties to the convention; and second, to create a framework for international cooperation to enhance the prospect that traffickers and others who profit from trafficking will be brought to justice.
  •    The Convention focuses on the eradication of drugs and drug-producing laboratories; the international transportation of precursor chemicals used to produce illegal drugs; the tracing of laundered drug trade profits back to the drug cartels; and the worldwide extradition of drug criminals so that they can have no safe havens. Significantly, the Convention obligates parties to make money laundering an extraditable offense, to afford the widest measure of international mutual legal assistance in judicial proceedings, and to cooperate closely to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement actions to suppress narcotics trafficking and related offenses. (Thornburgh 1989, 59)

   In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation authorizing the president to provide assistance for the prevention and suppression of international drug trafficking and money laundering. While international law (multinational treaties) provides the basis for eradicating illicit poppy and coca cultivation, adherence to treaties depends on a level of cooperation that is often sacrificed on the altar of domestic economic and political realities (discussed in Chapter 8). Under treaties, coca- and poppy-producing countries are to limit their cultivation acreage to a level that is in line with legitimate world needs. Strict controls over growers require them to deliver their crops to a government monopoly to prevent diversion to the black market. Crops growing wild are to be destroyed. The price paid by the government, however, is not competitive with that offered by traffickers, and the illegal diversion of coca or opium is the only significant source of cash for many peasant growers, whose standard of living is already marginal. Attempts to substitute other cash crops have met with only limited success because such programs cannot challenge the reality of the marketplace. As noted in Chapter 9, coca and poppies are grown in regions where governments often have only nominal control.

   Jurisdictional limitations, however, can sometimes overcome constitutional restrictions. For example, because the Bill of Rights applies only to actions of the U.S. government, the Fourth Amendment and exclusionary rule do not govern seizures in foreign countries by those nations’ police. This holds even when the evidence that is seized is from U.S. citizens; thus, it would be admissible in a U.S. court (Anderson 1992). Furthermore, the Supreme Court has held that constitutional protections do not obtain in U.S. government actions against foreign nationals on foreign soil. In United States v. Verdugo Urquidez(110 S.Ct. 1056 1990), a Mexican national who was suspected in the 1985 torture-murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent was apprehended by Mexican police on a U.S. warrant and turned over to U.S. marshals at the California border. At the request of the DEA, Mexican police, without a warrant, searched the fugitive’s two residences and seized incriminating documents, which were turned over to the DEA. The evidence was ruled admissible.

   In a 1992 ruling on another case involving the murder of a DEA agent, the Supreme Court ruled that kidnapping a suspect on foreign soil does not prevent the suspect from being tried in the United States. In this case (United States v. Alvarez Machain, 504 U.S.), Mexican bounty hunters kidnapped a medical doctor and took him to El Paso; they were paid $20,000 and given the right to settle with their families in the United States. The Mexican government reacted with outrage to the decision.


In Chapter 9, we examined the complex world of drug trafficking and the enormous profits that accrue to many of those involved. The easy availability of large sums of money and the clandestine nature of the business make drug law enforcement vulnerable to corruption.

   Two basic strategies are available to law enforcement agencies—reactive and proactive—and many use a combination of both. Reactive law enforcement has its parallel in firefighting: Firefighters remain in their fire stations, equipment at the ready, until they get a call for service. Reactive law enforcement encourages citizens to report crimes; the agency will then respond to the reports. This type of law enforcement is used for dealing with such conventional criminal behavior as murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, and theft, which are likely to be reported to the police. (It should be noted, however, that with the exception of murder and auto theft, studies indicate that most crimes of these types are notreported to the police.) Proactive law enforcement requires officers or agents to seek out indications of criminal behavior, always a necessity when the criminal violation includes victim participation (e.g., gambling, prostitution, and drugs). These crimes are often described as consensual or “victimless,” although they clearly have victims who are unlikely to report the crime to the police. The problem of corruption is in part tied to the proactive strategy.

Corruption in the Headlines

  • • “ATF Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy” (FBI press release, May 6, 2010)
  • • “Fulton County [GA] Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Corruption and Drug Offenses; Took Money to Protect Drug Dealers” (FBI press release, July 21, 2010)
  • • “Former Lee County [SC] Sheriff Convicted of Racketeering and Drug Conspiracy” (FBI press release, November 11, 2010)
  • • “Two Law Enforcement Officers Convicted for Participation in Drug Transaction” (FBI press release, December 9, 2010)
  • • “Correction Officer Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges” (FBI press release, June 28, 2011)
  • • “State Correction Officers Plead Guilty in Drug Trafficking Scheme” (FBI press release, May 12, 2010)
  • • “Laredo [TX] Police Officer Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Term for Drug Trafficking” (FBI press release, April 11, 2011)
  • • “Former Police Chief of Sullivan County [TX] Sentenced to Prison for Drug Trafficking” (FBI press release, April 21, 2011)
  • • “Former Winn Parish [LA] Sheriff Convicted in Drug case” (Associated Press, February 25, 2011)
  • • “Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Charges” (FBI press release, April 23, 2012)
  • • “Former Puerto Rico Police Officer Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking Crimes” (FBI Press release, May 18, 2012)

   To seek out criminal activity in the most efficient manner possible, proactive law enforcement officers must conceal their identities and otherwise deceive the criminals they are stalking. As J. Wilson (1978) points out, both reactive and proactive law enforcement officers are exposed to opportunities for graft, but the latter are more severely tested: The reactive officer, “were he to accept money or favors to act other than as his duty required, would have to conceal or alter information about a crime already known to his organization” (59). The proactive agent, however, “can easily agree to overlook offenses known to him but to no one else or to participate in illegal transactions (buying or selling drugs) for his own rather than for the organization’s advantage” (59). Undercover officers pretending to be criminals are difficult to supervise; the agency they work for often knows only what the agents tell it.

   There is also corruption in foreign countries that grow, process, or serve as transshipment stations for illegal substances. In fact, the corrupt official is an essential ingredient in the drug business, according to the President’s Commission on Organized Crime (1986). The commission concluded that “[c]orruption linked to drug trafficking is a widespread phenomenon among political and military leaders, police and other authorities in virtually every country touched by the drug trade. The easily available and enormous amounts of money generated through drug transactions present a temptation too great for many in positions of authority to resist” (178). In addition to corruption, there is the problem of brutality. The militaries in many drug source and transshipment countries have earned widespread condemnation for violating basic human rights.

Two Hats

In 2010, the leader of a drug trafficking organization operating out of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, was sentenced to twenty-seven years imprisonment in a U.S. federal court. The trafficker, Jesus Manuel Fierro-Mendez, was a Juárez police officer assigned to a special counternarcotics unit.

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration, press release, January 19, 2010.

Informants.   Corruption is often intertwined with the problem of informants. Informants come in two basic categories; the “good citizen” and the “criminal.” The former is such a rarity, particularly in drug law enforcement, that we will deal only with the criminal informant, the individual who helps law enforcement in order to further his or her own personal ends. These include vengeance, efforts to drive competition out of business, and/or financial rewards. Most often, however, the information is given to “work off a beef”—to secure leniency for his or her own criminal activities that have become known to the authorities. Cloyd (1982) found that one federal district had a specified menu for every “beef”: For each arrest resulting from informant assistance and yielding approximately the same amount of drugs that the defendant is being charged with, there is “a reduction of charges by one count. Being charged with two counts (one count of possession, one of possession with intent to sell), one arrest would get her a reduction of one count (felony possession) in exchange for an expedient plea of guilty. One good arrest and a guilty plea would reduce the charge to misdemeanor possession. Two good arrests would get her case dismissed” (188n).

   Obviously, the more involved in criminal activity the informer—“snitch” or confidential informant (CI)—is, the more useful is his or her assistance. While they are serving as informers, there is temptation to overlook his or her continued criminal activity. This raises serious ethical and policy questions. Should the informant be given immunity from lawful punishment in exchange for cooperation? If so, who is to make that determination? The agent who becomes aware of the informant’s activities? The agent’s supervisor? The prosecutor who is informed of the situation? A trial judge? Should a murderer be permitted to remain free because he or she is valuable to law enforcement efforts against drug trafficking? Should a drug addict—informant be allowed to continue his or her abuse in order to keep in touch with traffickers? If so, doesn’t this contradict the goal of drug statutes, which is to curtail drug abuse? Should the government encourage informants even if they face serious physical danger (and they usually do)? Most drug agents would argue, however, that without informants there can be no effective drug law enforcement. The issues are complex and without definitive answers.

   There are other dangers. In South Florida, for example, given the number of law enforcement agencies and “given their heavy dependence on intelligence, it is inevitable that there are informants who inform on other informants, who are probably informing on them. A consequence of that is selective prosecution: arbitrary decisions made by police officers and agents as to who will go to jail and who will be allowed to remain on the street. Given the vast amounts of money at stake in the drug business, selective prosecution raises the specter of corruption” (Eddy, Sabogal, and Walden 1988, 85).

   Working closely with informants is potentially corrupting. The informant helps the agent to enter an underworld that is filled with danger—as well as great financial rewards. There is always concern that the law enforcement agent might become something else to the informer—a friend, an employee, an employer, or a partner. The rewards can be considerable: Agents can confiscate money and drugs from other traffickers or receive payment for not arresting traffickers; at the same time they can improve their work record by arresting competing dealers. It is often only a small step from using drug traffickers as informants to going into business with them.

Statutes and Legal Requirements

The legal foundation for federal drug law violations is Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, as amended, usually referred to as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Among the provisions of the CSA is a set of criteria for placing a substance in one of five schedules (Table 10.1). Following the federal model, most states have established the five-schedule system, but many “have chosen to reclassify particular substances within those five schedules. Variation also exists in the number of schedules employed by the states [North Carolina, for example, uses six] and in the purpose of these schedules” (Illicit Drug Policies 2002, 8). Massachusetts categorizes drugs on the basis of the penalty rather than using the federal scheme of potential for abuse and medical use. Like federal law, state statutes refer to the drug involved (e.g., cocaine or heroin), the action involved (e.g., simple possession, possession with the intent to sell, sale, distribution, or trafficking), and the number of prior offenses. Across states there is significant variation in the penalties for cocaine-, marijuana-, methamphetamine-, and Ecstasy-related offenses (Illicit Drug Policies 2002).

   Drugs considered controlled substances under the CSA are divided into five schedules. A controlled substance is placed in its respective schedule based on whether it has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and its relative abuse potential and likelihood of causing dependence. Some examples of controlled substances in each schedule are outlined below. Drugs listed in Schedule I have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and, therefore, may not be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for medical use. In contrast, drugs listed in Schedules II to V have some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for medical use.

TABLE 10.1 Schedule of Controlled Substances

A. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
B. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
C. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Examples include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“Ecstasy”).
A. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
B. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
C. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. 1. Examples of single entity Schedule II narcotics include morphine and opium. Other Schedule II narcotic substances and their common name brand products include: hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze or Duragesic).2. Examples of Schedule II stimulants include: amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®). Other schedule II substances include: cocaine, amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.
A. The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II.
B. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
C. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.    Examples of Schedule III narcotics include combination products containing less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin) and products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine). Also included are buprenorphine products (Suboxone® and Subutex®) used to treat opioid addiction. Examples of Schedule III non-narcotics include benzphetamine (Didrex), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as oxandrolone (Oxandrin).
A. The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III.    An example of a Schedule IV narcotic is propoxyphene (Darvon® and Darvocet-N 100). Other Schedule IV substances include: alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion).
B. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
C. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III.
A. The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV.
B. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
C. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV. Examples include cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC and Phenergan with Codeine).
Source: Drug Enforcement Administration.

   People who are involved in the illegal drug business can be arrested and prosecuted for a number of different offenses: manufacture, importation, distribution, possession, or sale; conspiracy to manufacture, import, distribute, possess, or sell; or failure to pay the required income taxes on illegal income. Possession of drugs may be actual—for example, actually on the person, in pockets, or in a package that the person is holding; or constructive—not actually on the person but under his or her control, directly or through other people. Possession must be proven by a legal search, which usually requires a search warrant as per the Fourth Amendment (an important exception is at ports of entry). A search warrant requires the establishment of probable cause—providing a judge with sufficient evidence of a crime to justify a warrant. Drugs can easily be secreted in any variety of places, including inside the human body.

   The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 supplemented the CSA of 1970 by authorizing the doubling of a sentence for drug offenders with prior domestic or foreign felony drug convictions. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 imposes mandatory prison sentences for certain drug offenses and a mandatory doubling of the minimum penalties for offenders with prior felony drug convictions. In 1988, the military’s role in drug-law enforcement was substantially increased and Congress passed a statute to better control the diversion of precursor and essential chemicals for the manufacture of drugs. The Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act, Subtitle A of the Anti-Drug Abuse Amendments of 1988, established record-keeping requirements and enforcement standards for more than two-dozen precursor and essential chemicals. State and federal statutes make the unauthorized trade in any of the listed substances equivalent to trafficking in the actual illegal drugs.

   The 1988 statute also created a complex and extensive body of civil penalties aimed at casual users. These include withdrawal of federal benefits, such as mortgage guarantees, and loss of a pilot’s license or stockbroker’s license at the discretion of a federal judge. Fines of up to $10,000 can be imposed for illegal possession of even small amounts of controlled substances. There are special penalties for the sale of drugs to minors. The statute permits imposition of capital punishment for murders committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise or for the murder of a law enforcement officer during an arrest for a drug-related felony. The statute also established an Office of National Drug Policy headed by a director appointed by the president. The director is charged with coordinating federal drug supply reduction efforts, including international control, intelligence, interdiction, domestic law enforcement, treatment, education, and research.

   In response to the Ecstasy [MDMA] Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000, the U.S. Sentencing Commission raised the guideline for judges’ sentences for trafficking MDMA. For 800 pills, about 200 grams, the sentence increased from fifteen months to five years; for 8,000 pills, the sentence increased from forty-one months to ten years. Enacted in 2003, the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (sometimes known as the “Rave Act”) prohibits “knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing or using any controlled substance.” Penalties include imprisonment for up to twenty years, criminal fines of $500,000, and civil penalties of $250,000.


Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to commit a criminal act; the agreement becomes the corpus (body) of the crime. Conspiracy requires proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) that two or more individuals planned to violate drug laws and that at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy was made by a conspirator (e.g., the purchase of materials to aid in the transportation or dilution of illicit drugs). Conspiracy statutes are valuable tools for prosecuting drug offenders because:

  • 1. Intervention can occur before the commission of a substantive offense.
  • 2. A conspirator cannot shield himself or herself from prosecution because of a lack of knowledge of the details of the conspiracy or the identity of coconspirators and their contributions.
  • 3. An act or declaration by one conspirator committed in furtherance of the conspiracy is admissible against each coconspirator (an exception to the hearsay rule).
  • 4. Each conspirator is responsible for the substantive crimes of coconspirators; even late joiners can be held liable for prior acts of coconspirators if the latecomer’s agreement is given with full knowledge of the conspiracy’s objective.

Tax Laws

The Internal Revenue Code is organized into volumes covering a variety of taxes, in particular, U.S. income tax. The code requires residents and citizens (who may reside outside the country) to file a tax return that reveals the source and amount of all income from whatever source it is derived.

   In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of United States v. Sullivan (274 U.S. 259), which denied the claim of self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) as an excuse for failure to file income tax on illegally gained earnings: It would be ridiculous if legitimate persons had to file income tax returns but criminals did not. This decision enabled the federal government to successfully prosecute Al Capone and members of his organization. Because persons in organized crime have obligations as taxpayers, they can be prosecuted for several acts:

  • 1. Failing to make required returns or maintain required business records
  • 2. Filing a false return or making a false statement about taxes
  • 3. Willful failure to pay federal income tax or concealment of assets with intent to defraud
  • 4. Helping others evade income taxes

Money Laundering

A U.S. Attorney General has pointed out that so much cash is involved in large, illicit drug-trafficking operations that tracking the money from these drug activities is often a more fruitful investigative endeavor than is tracking the underlying criminal activities (Thornburgh 1989). Before passage of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, money laundering was not a federal crime, although the Department of Justice had used a variety of federal statutes to successfully prosecute money-laundering cases. The act consolidated these statutes with the goal of increasing prosecutions for this offense. Money laundering was made a separate federal offense punishable by a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater, and twenty years imprisonment. The statute provides for the civil confiscation of any property related to a money-laundering scheme. Legislation enacted in 1988 allows the government to file a suit claiming ownership of all cash funneled through operations intended to disguise its illegal source. The courts can issue an order freezing all contested funds until the case is adjudicated.

Seizure and Forfeiture

Federal and state statutes provide for the forfeiture of property that is used in criminal activity or secured with the fruits of criminal activity. Forfeiture has proved particularly useful in dealing with drug traffickers. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 provides for the seizure of assets under certain conditions. This was extended through amendments in 1978 and 1984: The statute now permits forfeiture of all profits from drug trafficking and all assets purchased with such proceeds or traded in exchange for controlled substances. It authorizes the forfeiture of all real property used in any manner to facilitate violations of drug statutes, including entire tracts of land and all improvements regardless of what portion of the property facilitated the illegal activities. Currency, buildings, land, motor vehicles, and airplanes have all been confiscated (Stahl 1992). The government also has the right to seize untainted assets as a substitute for tainted property disposed of or otherwise made unavailable for forfeiture (Greenhouse 1994).

   A seizure can be made incident to an arrest or customs inspection or upon receipt of a seizure order. To obtain a seizure order (actually a warrant), the government must provide sworn testimony in an affidavit spelling out the property to be seized and why there is reason to believe that it is being used to commit crimes or was acquired with money from criminal activity—the same process used in securing a search warrant. The filing of criminal charges against the owner is not required. The owner of the property has a right to contest the seizure only after it has occurred: He or she must prove that the money or property was earned through legal enterprise. In 1993, the Supreme Court (United States v. Good Real Property, 510 U.S. 43) ruled that the government cannot seize real estate without providing the owner with a notice and opportunity to contest the proposed seizure. This decision applies only to real estate and not portable possessions. Vehicles and cash are the most frequently seized assets, because the pursuit of real property requires extensive financial investigation. “The investigative expense may be cost effective” however, if “the property is valuable and the potential for disrupting the criminal organization is high” (Stellwagen 1985, 5).

   There are two types of forfeiture proceedings: criminal and civil. Criminal forfeiture is applicable only as part of a successful criminal prosecution. “The defendant in the criminal case must be convicted of the crime involving the property, or the property cannot be subject to forfeiture” (Poethig 1988, 11). Thus, the government can use criminal forfeiture to seize the home of a convicted drug dealer who used the home to store drugs. Civil forfeiture, on the other hand, does not require criminal charges; civil forfeiture can proceed even in the absence of a criminal prosecution and has certain advantages over criminal forfeiture: The level of evidence required is considerably less than that in a criminal action, and the considerable due process guarantees accruing to a criminal defendant are not applicable in a civil action. Interestingly, civil forfeiture proceedings are brought against property that is involved in a criminal offense, not against a person. “Possession of the property in and of itself may not be illegal, but the property may be subject to seizure and forfeiture because of the way it was used. No criminal charge or conviction need exist against the owner of the property for the civil case to occur” (Poethig 1988, 11). Thus, the government can use civil forfeiture to seize an automobile that is used to transport drugs (facilitation forfeiture) even if no conviction resulted from this activity.

   In any number of jurisdictions, disputes have arisen over how to allocate the fruits of seized assets. Because these funds do not incur a political cost—not being linked to taxes—they are highly valued. However, “once the money reaches the local police, it often can become a political football with law enforcement and politicians squabbling over how to spend it” (Soble 1991, 23). In several California communities, for example, police officials wanted to put the money into drug law enforcement, but elected officials insisted instead on increasing the uniformed police force. There is also concern that pressure to produce revenue will encourage legally questionable activity and even alter the basic goal of drug law enforcement.

   Forfeiture statutes of some states permit all seized assets to be returned to the initiating agency; others provide for distribution to all law enforcement agencies involved and the prosecutor’s office; still others permit no proceeds to be returned to law enforcement and, instead, require that they be placed in an education fund. Law enforcement agencies in these states are able to bypass the requirement by having the case “adopted” by a federal agency such as the DEA or FBI, which then passes it off to the U.S. Attorney. The adoption procedure can result in up to 80 percent of the proceeds being returned to the initiating department (Worrall 2008). Increased police assets via forfeiture provide an incentive for local governments to reduce their allocations for policing (Skolnick 2008). Forfeiture laws engender considerable controversy because of sharing provisions.

   Intertwined with this concern is that expressed over the seizure of property owned by innocent third parties. Three fraternity houses that were seized at the University of Virginia in 1991, for example, were owned by alumni, not the current occupants, some of whom were arrested for drug violations. (Two houses were returned before the 1991–1992 school year began.) Innocent parties can be deprived of a residence, vehicle, business, or cash until they are able to prove they were not involved in law-violating activity—a reversal of the normal presumption of innocence. To get back seized property, the owner needs an attorney, and litigation can take several months without any guarantee of success. For people who make the “mistake” of traveling with large amounts of cash—particularly if they are black, Hispanic, or Asian—the results can be more than an inconvenience. A study by the Pittsburgh Press revealed several cases in which the cash of innocent people was seized at airports and kept for years without any criminal charges being filed (Schneider and Flaherty 1991). “Overcoming the burden of proof can be hard even for the most upright citizens. How does a mother prove she didn’t know her son was using the family car to transport drugs? How does a landlord prove he didn’t know a tenant was a drug dealer? … The effort is also expensive, and even if you win, you’re still out the money to pay your lawyer, which can be more than the value of the property you’ve recovered” (Chapman 1992, 23). In 1996, the Supreme Court determined that property can be seized even when the owner was innocent of any wrongdoing. In this case, Bennis v. Michigan (517 U.S. 1163), a jointly owned car was impounded after the husband used it to solicit a prostitute. In response to these criticisms, in 2000 the 1984 statute was revised to require the government to prove that confiscated property either had been used for illegal activity or was purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity. In 1989, the Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, ruled that the government, under the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act, can freeze the assets of criminal defendants before trial (Caplin and Drysdale v. United States, 491 U.S. 616; United States v. Monsanto, 491 U.S. 600).

   Forfeiture has also been criticized as a plea-bargaining device for drug kingpins. They negotiate lighter sentences by promising to reveal hidden assets and not put up court challenges to their seizure. Law enforcement agencies, eager for additional funds, promote leniency for those at the top of the drug-trafficking ladder while those down below, without substantial hidden assets, face significant penalties (Navarro 1996). There is criticism that forfeiture can distort the purpose of drug law enforcement, for example, police delaying raids until drug caches are depleted and cash maximized (Worrall and Kovandzic 2008). Or it can result in a “get out of jail free” card, a plea-bargaining device for drug kingpins. They negotiate lighter sentences by promising to reveal hidden assets and not put up court challenges to their seizure.

Drug Law Enforcement Agencies

As was noted earlier, local efforts against drug trafficking are usually directed at midlevel dealers, although most frequently, it is the low-level street dealer who is arrested and prosecuted at the local level. Federal drug law enforcement seeks to disrupt illicit trafficking organizations and to reduce the availability of drugs for illicit use.

Levels of Drug Law Enforcement

There are five levels of drug law enforcement (Kleiman 1985):

  • 1. Source control: This comprises actions aimed at limiting cultivation and production of poppies and opium, coca and cocaine, and marijuana. Both the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration have agents assigned to foreign countries.
  • 2. Interdiction: The interception of drugs being smuggled into the United States is primarily the role of the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.
  • 3. Domestic distribution: The disruption of high-level trafficking is usually the responsibility of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • 4. Wholesaling: The focus on midlevel dealing is usually the role of state and local law enforcement.
  • 5. Street sales: Low-level dealing, often by addicts supporting their own drug habits, is usually left to local law enforcement.

   On the federal level, because the United States, unlike most other democratic nations, does not have a national police force, the job of carrying out these objectives falls on a confusing number of agencies in several departments—Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense—whose responsibilities for enforcing drug laws often overlap. This fragmentation is the result of the ad hoc creation of law enforcement agencies at the national level; each time a particular problem arose, an agency was established without significant attention to the problem of coordination. We will discuss the agencies in the order listed in Table 10.2.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to justice those organizations and principal members of organizations involved in the illegal growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances in or destined for the United States. The DEA recommends and supports nonenforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets. The agency manages a national drug intelligence network in cooperation with federal, state, local, and foreign officials to collect, analyze, and disseminate strategic, investigative, and tactical intelligence information to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and, when appropriate, to foreign counterparts.

TABLE 10.2 Federal Drug Law Enforcement Agencies

Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
U.S. Marshals Service
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Customs and Border Protection
Secret Service
Coast Guard
Internal Revenue Service
Postal Inspection Service
U.S. Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service

   The DEA evolved out of several predecessor agencies, particularly the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (see Chapter 8). It is a single-mission agency responsible for enforcing federal statutes dealing with controlled substances by investigating alleged or suspected major drug traffickers. The DEA is also responsible for regulating the legal trade in such controlled substances as morphine, methadone, oxycodone, and barbiturates. Diversion agents conduct accountability investigations of drug wholesalers, suppliers, and manufacturers. They inspect the records and facilities of major drug manufacturers and distributors, and special agents investigate instances in which drugs have been illegally diverted from legitimate sources.

   Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the DEA has 227 domestic offices in twentyone field divisions throughout the United States and eighty-seven foreign offices in sixty-three countries. Of the DEA’s approximately 11,000 permanent positions, more than 90 percent are located in DEA headquarters and domestic field divisions. The remaining positions are stationed in DEA foreign offices. DEA special agents are stationed in dozens of countries where their mission is to gain cooperation in international efforts against drug trafficking and to help train foreign enforcement officials.

   The DEA has five military-trained squads called Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Teams (FAST) of ten agents each that, since 2005, have been deployed to fight drug trafficking organizations in countries as far flung as Honduras and Afghanistan, blurring the lines between the “war on drugs” and the “war on terrorism.” Working with specially vetted local law enforcement officers, FAST usually operates with a low profile to avoid the potential of a nationalist backlash (Savage 2011).

   In Honduras, in addition to FAST squads, U.S. special forces and helicopter pilots are deployed in remote base camps to help local forces stem the flow of drugs heading north from Colombia (Shanker 2012). In 2012, residents of the Mosquito Coast of Honduras on the Carribean Sea, an area used to move cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela to Mexico, rioted over accusations that DEA agents killed innocent civilians, which the DEA denies (Cave 2012b).

The DEA and Its Antecedent Agencies

1973–Present: Drug Enforcement Administration

1968–1973: Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs

1930–1968: Federal Bureau of Narcotics

1927–1930: Bureau of Prohibition

1915–1927: Bureau of Internal Revenue

   The basic approach to DEA drug law enforcement is the buy and bust or the controlled buy. Typically, a drug agent is introduced to a seller by an informant. The agent arranges to buy a relatively small amount of drugs and then attempts to move farther up the organizational ladder by increasing the amount purchased. When arrests are made, DEA agents attempt to “flip” the suspect, convincing him or her to become an informant, particularly if the person has knowledge of the entire operation, so that a conspiracy case is affected. As was discussed above, the use of informants is problematic.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The FBI is as close to a federal police force as exists in the United States. Its broad investigative mandate was expanded in 1982, when the FBI was given concurrent jurisdiction with the DEA for drug law enforcement and investigation. In addition, the administrator of the DEA is now required to report to the director of the FBI, who has overall responsibility for supervising drug law enforcement efforts and policies. Despite this increased mandate, the primary role of the FBI is to deal with domestic espionage and terrorism.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel regulate the movement of carriers, persons, and commodities between the United States and other nations. It is the largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency. CBP has authority to search outbound and inbound shipments. Its more than 21,000 officers screen passengers (more than 300 million persons annually) and cargo at 330 points of entry into United States. CBP Border Patrol Agents are assigned to U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico to prevent illegal entry of persons, and contraband. CBP is at the forefront of efforts against human and counterfeit product trafficking, working with commercial carriers, often signing cooperative agreements, to enhance the carriers’ ability to prevent their equipment from being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband. CBP’s Office of Air and Marine is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization. The agency collects over $30 billion annually in tariffs, and CBP agricultural specialists are responsible for preventing the entry of harmful pests, and plant and animal diseases that may threaten U.S. agriculture and the food supply.

   BCP is not bound by Fourth Amendment protections that typically restrain domestic law enforcement. Agents do not need probable cause or warrants to engage in search and seizure at ports of entry; certain degrees of suspicion will suffice. The typical case is a “cold border bust,” the result of an entry checkpoint search. Because it is impractical if not impossible to thoroughly search most vehicles and individuals entering the United States, agents have developed certain techniques for minimizing inconvenience to legitimate travelers and shippers while targeting those most likely to be involved in smuggling. Besides being alert to various cues that act as tip-offs, the officials at border-crossing points have computers containing information such as license plate numbers and names of known or suspected smugglers. People arrested become targets for offers of plea bargaining in efforts to gain their cooperation in follow-up enforcement efforts.

   BCP is hampered by the need to patrol more than 12,000 miles of international boundary. The frontiers of the United States, to the north and the south, “are the longest undisputed, undefended borders on earth” (F. Weiner 2002, 14). About half the drugs entering the United States come through commercial ports aboard container ships, where the drugs are secreted in tightly sealed steel intermodal freight containers, millions of which enter the country every year. Officials can inspect only a small number (about 10 percent) of these containers, and without advance information, the drugs typically pass right through the ports. Drugs that are intercepted are easily replaced.

   CBP has been plagued by charges of corruption on the U.S.-Mexico border. In part, the result of dramatic increases in the number of agents and tougher enforcement that has driven smugglers to engage in greater efforts at compromising security. There is concern that smugglers are sending operatives to take jobs in border enforcement (Archibald and Becker 2008). In 2011, a CBP inspector pled guilty to being a member of a drug trafficking organization and facilitating the smuggling of drugs and aliens into the United States; he received a seventeen-year sentence (FBI press release, July 6, 2011).

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is charged with the investigation and enforcement of over 400 federal statutes within the United States, and maintains attachés at major U.S. embassies overseas. ICE has more than 20,000 employees assigned to offices in all fifty states and forty-seven foreign countries; more than 7,000 are special agents responsible for investigating a wide range of domestic and international activities arising from the illegal movement of people and goods into and out of the United States. ICE investigates immigration crime, human, drug, and weapons smuggling, financial crimes, export matters, and cyber crime.

   The Cyber Crimes Section (CCS) is responsible for developing and coordinating investigations of immigration and customs violations where the Internet is used to facilitate the criminal act. CCS investigative responsibilities include fraud, theft of intellectual property rights, money laundering, identity and benefit fraud, the sale and distribution of controlled substances, illegal arms trafficking, and the illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities, and the smuggling and sale of other prohibited items such as art and cultural property.

   In 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration and ICE entered into an interagency agreement to increase the number of agents targeting international drug traffickers, improve and enhance information and intelligence sharing, and promote effective coordination between the agencies. According to the agreement, an unlimited number of ICE agents for will be cross-designated to investigate violations of the Controlled Substances Act at border crossings in coordination with DEA. In addition, ICE now will be able to investigate these violations overseas while coordinating with the DEA (DEA press release, June 19, 2009).

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard, formerly part of the U.S. Department of Transportation and now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for drug interdiction at sea. Coast Guard personnel do not have to establish probable cause before boarding a vessel at sea. Coast Guard responsibilities include maritime safety and security on, under and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Coast Guard personnel are federal law enforcement officers who are often stationed aboard naval vessels on drug interdiction patrol.

   “Responsible in large part for U.S. drug interdiction efforts, the Coast Guard’s strategy has been mainly directed toward intercepting mother ships as they transit the major passes of the Caribbean. To effect this ‘choke point’ strategy, the Coast Guard conducts both continuous surface patrols and frequent surveillance flights over waters of interest, and boards and inspects vessels at sea” (President’s Commission on Organized Crime 1986, 313). In 2008, for example, a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment boarded a Panamanian flagged vessel on the Caribbean and seized 1,930 kilograms of cocaine; they also arrested the ten crew members (DEA press release, October 2, 2008).

   Smugglers bringing drugs from Colombia across the Caribbean to the Florida coast carry extra fuel for the 700-mile round trip in boats that are thirty to forty-five feet long, capable of carrying 3,000 pounds of cocaine, and travel at nearly seventy miles per hour. In response, the Coast Guard modernized a tactic that had last been employed during the Prohibition Era using fixed wing aircraft: Helicopter-borne sharpshooters disable the engines of speedboats that refuse to follow orders of Coast Guard vessels. In response, drug traffickers are employing self-propelled semi-submersible and submersible vessels designed to evade detection and are easily scuttled when intercepted for the purpose of destroying the contraband and avoiding prosecution.

Internal Revenue Service

The mission of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an agency of the Treasury Department, is to encourage and achieve the highest possible degree of voluntary compliance with tax laws and regulations. When such compliance is not forthcoming or not feasible, as in the case of persons involved in drug trafficking, the Criminal Investigation (CI) division receives the case. Agents examine bank records, canceled checks, brokerage accounts, property transactions, and purchases, compiling a financial biography of the subject’s lifestyle in order to prove that proper taxes have not been paid according to the net worth theory.

   Drug entrepreneurs have devised ways to successfully evade taxes by, for example, dealing in cash, keeping minimal records, and setting up fronts. This is countered by the indirect method known as the net worth theory: “The government establishes a taxpayer’s net worth at the commencement of the taxing period [which requires substantial accuracy], deducts that from his or her net worth at the end of the period, and proves that the net gain in net worth exceeds the income reported by the taxpayer” (E. Johnson 1963, 17–18). In effect, the IRS reconstructs the total expenditures of the taxpayer by examining his or her standard of living and comparing it with reported income. The government can then maintain that the taxpayer did not report his or her entire income; the government does not have to show a probable source of the excess unreported gain in net worth.

   The IRS employs about 2,800 special agents in the Criminal Investigation division. While the primary role of the IRS is the collection of revenue and compliance with federal statutory tax codes, including the Internal Revenue Code, CI seeks evidence of criminal violations for prosecution by the Department of Justice. In particular, agents seek out information relative to income that has not been reported: “Additional income for criminal purposes is established by both direct and indirect methods. The direct method consists of the identification of specific items of unreported taxable receipts, overstated costs and expenses (such as personal expenses charged to business, diversion of corporate income to office-stockholders, allocation of income or expense to incorrect year in order to lower tax, etc.), and improper claims for credit or exemption” (Committee on the Office of Attorney General 1974, 49–50).

   Financial investigations are by their nature very document intensive. They involve records, such as bank account information and real estate files, which point to the movement of money. Any record that pertains to, or shows the paper trail of events involving money is important. The major goal in a financial investigation is to identify and document the movement of money during the course of a crime. The link between where the money comes from, who gets it, when it is received and where it is stored or deposited, can provide proof of criminal activity.

   As a result of the excesses revealed in the wake of the Watergate scandal during the presidency of Richard Nixon, Congress enacted the Tax Reform Act of 1976. The act reduced the law enforcement role of the IRS and made it quite difficult for law enforcement agencies other than the IRS to gain access to income tax returns. Amendments in 1982 reduced the requirements and permit the IRS to better cooperate with the efforts of other federal agencies investigating organized crime, particularly drug traffickers.

   In addition to investigating criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code, IRS jurisdiction includes the Bank Secrecy Act and money laundering statutes. Only the IRS can investigate criminal violations of the IRS code. Due to increased use of automation for financial records, CI special agents are trained to recover computer evidence and use specialized forensic technology to recover financial data that may have been encrypted.

U.S. Marshals Service

The Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency, dating back to 1789. During the period of westward expansion, the U.S. marshal played a significant role in the “Wild West,” where he was often the only symbol of law and order. In the past, marshals have also been used in civil disturbances as an alternative to military intervention. Today, they provide security for federal court facilities and the safety of federal judges; transport federal prisoners; apprehend fugitives; serve civil writs issued by federal courts, which can include the seizure of property and provide for the custody, management, and disposal of forfeited assets. Their most important task relative to drug trafficking is responsibility for administering the Witness Security Program, authorized by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970.

   The Marshals Service provides 24/7 security to witnesses while they are in a highthreat environment, including pretrial conferences, trial testimonials, and other court appearances. Witnesses and their families typically get new identities with authentic documentation and financial assistance for housing, subsistence for basic living expenses, and medical care. Job training and employment assistance may also be provided.

   Some critics of the program have charged that the Marshals Service shields criminals not only from would-be assassins but also from debts and lawsuits. In an attempt to remedy this, an amendment to the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act directs the Justice Department to stop hiding witnesses who are sued for civil damages and to drop from the program participants linked to new crimes. But the program still provides career criminals with “clean” backgrounds they can use to prey on or endanger an unsuspecting public.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dates back to 1791, when a tax was placed on alcoholic spirits. It eventually evolved into the Prohibition Bureau, which, with the repeal of Prohibition, became known as the Alcohol Tax Unit. The bureau was given jurisdiction over federal firearms statutes in 1942 and over arson and explosives in 1970. ATF agents often encounter drug traffickers during their investigation of firearms and explosives violations. They have been particularly active in efforts against outlaw motorcycle clubs, which often traffic in firearms and drugs.

Bureau of Land Management & National Park Service-Department of the Interior

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers public lands totaling approximately 253 million acres. BLM uniformed law enforcement rangers and plainclothes special agents are located in each of the western states that have BLM lands. They work to identify, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle marijuana cultivation, methamphetamine production, and drug smuggling activities on BLM lands. The National Park Service manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties. The agency employs uniformed law enforcement rangers to patrol roads and conduct surveillance of trails and backcountry areas to counter drug smuggling, marijuana cultivation, and methamphetamine production.

U.S. Forest Service-Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) manages 193 million acres in forty-four states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico encompassing 155 national forests and twenty national grasslands. Most of this land is located in extremely rural areas of the United States. In support of this mission, the FS employs uniformed law enforcement officers and plain-clothes special agents. They target drug trafficking organizations known to be active in sixteen states and operating on sixty-three national forests. Three drug enforcement issues are of specific concern to the FS: marijuana cultivation, methamphetamine production, and smuggling across international borders.

Postal Inspection Service

The Postal Inspection Service, among its several responsibilities, investigates the use of the U.S. mail to transport drugs.

Department of Defense (DOD)

In 1878, congressional Democrats enacted the Posse Comitatus (literally “force of the county”) Act to stop Republican presidents from using the army to further Reconstruction in the states of the erstwhile Confederacy. The act (as amended) makes it a crime to use the military as a domestic police force. Until 1981, DOD limited its involvement in drug law enforcement to lending equipment and training civilian enforcement personnel in the use of military equipment. In that year, as part of a new “War on Drugs,” Congress amended the Posse Comitatus Act authorizing a greater level of military involvement in civilian drug law enforcement, particularly the tracking of suspect ships and planes and the use of military pilots and naval ships to transport civilian enforcement personnel. As a result of this legislation, DOD provides surveillance and support services, using aircraft to search for smugglers and Navy ships to tow or escort vessels seized by the Coast Guard to the nearest U.S. port. The legislation authorized the military services to share information collected during routine military operations with law enforcement officials and to make facilities and equipment available to law enforcement officials. Further amendments led to the use of military equipment and personnel in efforts against cocaine traffickers in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru.

U.S. Navy on Drug Patrol

When the Customs and Border Protection plane spotted two forty-foot boats with twin engines off the coast of Panama, the pilot radioed a U.S. Navy frigate stationed nearby. A helicopter launched from the frigate gave chase and the people in the boats discarded their cargo and made a run for it; they escaped and sailors recovered nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine.

   A few months later, a U.S. Navy frigate operating in waters off Colombia’s west coast with a Coast Guard contingent aboard recovered almost 5,000 pounds of cocaine that had been jettisoned by an escaping “go-fast” vessel.

Source:Shauhnessy 2012Wiltrout 2012.

   The 1981 statute and subsequent amendments maintain the prohibition against the involvement of U.S. military personnel in arrest and seizure activities. This prohibition was based on the fear that further DOD involvement in drug law enforcement could:

  • ▸ Compromise U.S. security by exposing military personnel to the potentially corrupting environment of drug trafficking (Sciolino and Engelberg 1988)
  • ▸ Impair the strategic role of the military
  • ▸ Present a threat to civil liberties

   Furthermore, U.S. military officials have traditionally opposed involvement of the armed forces in law enforcement. In 1988, however, legislation was overwhelmingly approved to dramatically expand the role of the military and allow the arrest of civilians under certain circumstances.

   The U.S. Department of State uses former military pilots to fly helicopter gunships, transport planes, and crop dusters used by U.S. and foreign drug agents in countries where U.S. military operations are barred. Early in 1990 and again in 2006, National Guardsmen were deployed to search for drugs and illegal immigrants along the border with Mexico and at ports of entry. (As members of state militias, the National Guard can perform in this capacity because they are not governed by the Posse Comitatus Act.)


The International Police Organization, known by its telegraphic designation INTERPOL, assists law enforcement agencies with investigative activities that transcend international boundaries.

   As of 2009, there were 187 INTERPOL member countries; a country becomes a member merely by announcing its intention to join. In each member country there is a National Central Bureau (NCB) that acts as a point of contact and coordination with the General Secretariat, which is headquartered in Lyon, France. The General Secretariat has a staff of around 500 people, some of whom are law enforcement officers, from more than eighty different countries. INTERPOL is under the day-to-day direction of a secretary general; it is a coordinating body and has no investigators or law enforcement agents of its own.

   The United States National Central Bureau (USNCB) is the entity through which the United States functions as an INTERPOL member and serves as a point of contact for U.S. federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement for the international exchange of information. Responsibility for the management of the USNCB is shared by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. Senior management positions in the USNCB rotate between the two departments every three years.

   NCBs can instantly communicate with other NCBs and the INTERPOL General Secretariat, and INTERPOL member countries can instantly access a wide range of criminal information located in INTERPOL’s databases, including drug- and terrorism-related information. This information comes from queries, messages, intelligence, and submissions from law enforcement officials in member countries (U.S. Department of Justice 2009).

   The USNCB receives about 12,000 requests for assistance from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies each year. These are checked and coded by technical staff and entered into the INTERPOL Case Tracking System (ICTS), a computer-controlled index of people, organizations, and other crime information items. The ICTS conducts automatic searches of new entries, retrieving those that correlate with international crime. The requests are forwarded to senior staff members, who serve as INTERPOL case investigators. These are usually veteran agents from a federal agency whose experience includes work with foreign police forces. Each investigator is on loan from his or her principal agency.

   Requests for investigative assistance include a whole range of criminal activity—murder, drug violations, illicit firearms traffic—and often involve locating fugitives for arrest and extradition. The bureau also receives investigative requests for criminal histories, license checks, and other ID verifications (Fooner 1985). The Financial and Economic Crime Unit at INTERPOL headquarters facilitates the exchange of information about offshore banking and money-laundering schemes. Monitoring this type of activity can sometimes lead to identifying suspects involved in drug trafficking who had previously escaped detection.

Street-Level Law Enforcement

Efficient street-level enforcement, argues Moore (1977), is a strategy worth pursuing, even if there is displacement—sellers moving to new locations and becoming more cautious. Caulkins (1992) agrees that even when there is complete displacement, benefits to society accrue. Because street-level enforcement makes sellers more cautious and therefore more difficult to find, the buyer is forced to spend more time searching for a connection and less time searching for money (criminal opportunity) or actually using drugs. Under such conditions many users might be motivated to seek treatment, although there is often a shortage of available treatment programs. New users in particular will have difficulty “scoring.” If this situation becomes widespread, profits from drug wholesaling will drop as if there were a drop in consumer demand.

   Mazerolle, Sachs, and Rombout (2007) classify street-level enforcement into three generic categories:

  • 1. Community-wide policing approaches involve a wide array of diverse interventions that rely on the police forging partnerships (e.g., with other police agencies, community entities, regulators, city inspectors), and implementing strategies that are targeted at relatively large areas such as across entire communities or neighborhoods to address drug markets.

   This category involves partnerships with local councils, community groups, regulators, inspectors, business groups, and other crime-control agencies such as probation and parole departments. It uses such tactics as knock-and-talks, drug patrols, local police storefronts, drug hot lines, foot and bike patrols, neighborhood revitalization, block watch, neighborhood watch, and arrest referral to drug treatment.

  • 2. Geographically focused policing approaches typically involve the use of problemsolving models and/or partnerships with third parties, such as regulators, service providers, government agencies.

   This category uses problem-oriented policing—partnering with nonpolice agencies in response to identified community problems such as abandoned vehicles and buildings—cooperative efforts with regulatory agencies using civil remedies—and crime control through environmental design: surveillance cameras, additional street lighting, limiting access to problem areas by reconfiguring traffic patterns.

  • 3. Hot-spots policing uses traditional approaches to drug law enforcement that are unfocused and rely principally on law enforcement resources such as directed patrols and crackdowns, police-only activities that are geographically focused on drug hot spots.

   This category uses crackdowns—abrupt escalations in law enforcement activities intended to increase the perceived or actual threat of apprehension—undercover “buy and bust” operations, and intensive/saturation patrol. “[I]t is unlikely that buy-bust operations aimed specifically at street dealers will significantly disrupt the distribution system. Sellers operating at this level are easily replaced and while buybust operations may result in large number of arrests, convictions rarely lead to lengthy sentences” (Hough 2005, 25).

   In Lynn, Massachusetts, a drug task force made up of six state police officers and a city detective was deployed to decrease the flagrant selling of heroin in the city’s High Rock area. Open drug dealing poses special threats. “Some neighborhood residents, particularly children, may become users; and … the behavior of buyers and sellers will be disruptive or worse. In poor neighborhoods, the opportunity for quick money offered by the illicit market may compete with entry-level licit jobs and divert labor-market entrants from legitimate careers. When the drug sold is heroin, residents are likely to be bothered by users ‘nodding’ in doorways and heroin-using prostitutes soliciting” (Kleiman 1988, 10). The goal was achieved, and drugs were harder to purchase in the area. This led to an increase in the number of people seeking treatment for drug abuse. A significant reduction in street crime was also reported for the area (Kleiman 1988). The drying up of immediate sources of heroin can potentially reduce experimentation, although long-term users will merely be inconvenienced. The time and energy required to establish new sources, however, might otherwise be spent on drug use and criminality. If treatment is available, the crackdown might serve as an incentive for entering a treatment program.

   In New York City, a 1984 street-level enforcement effort known as Operation Pressure Point (OPP) was designed to improve the quality of life and reduce drug-related crime in an area of the city’s Lower East Side. Drug trafficking in the area had become so blatant that residents and their political representatives demanded police action. OPP instituted aggressive patrolling by uniformed officers, cleared abandoned buildings and parks of drug users, and sent out detectives to make “buy-and-bust” arrests. The risk of arrest increased dramatically for both buyers and sellers, and most of them abandoned the area and others resorted to low-profile trafficking. OPP followed up these activities with programs designed to strengthen the community and increase cooperation with and support for the police. The program achieved its goals and neighborhood residents reported being very satisfied. Similar operations in other parts of New York City, however, have not been as successful (Zimmer 1990). Hough (2005) cautions that this type of drug enforcement can have the unintended consequence of increased revenue for remaining dealers, who face less competition.

Drug Market Intervention Initiative.   A relatively new approach to the problem of street-level drug markets is the brainchild of David Kennedy of New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Instead of the traditional “hot spot” approach, after a particular drug market is identified, violent dealers are arrested while nonviolent ones are brought to a “call-in” where they face a roomful of law enforcement officers, social service providers, community figures, ex-offenders, and their own parents, relatives, and neighbors: “The drug dealers are told that (1) they are valuable to the community, and (2) the dealing must stop. They are offered social services. They are informed that local law enforcement has worked up cases against them, but that these cases will be ‘banked’ (temporarily suspended). Then they are given an ultimatum: ‘If you continue to deal, the banked cases against you will be activated’” (Kennedy 2009, 13).

   The “call-in” provides a forum at which everyone affected can say to the dealers: “Enough!” Dealers are told by relatives that while they are loved, their behavior is unacceptable. This is backed by law enforcement officers who explain: “We want to take a chance on you. We have done the investigation, and we have cases against you ready to go. You could be in jail today, but we do not want to ruin your life. We have listened to the community. We do not want to lock you up, but we are not asking. This is not a negotiation. If you start dealing again, we will sign the warrant, and you will go to jail.”

   Preliminary research into this approach, which is being used in more than 25 cities, has revealed a remarkable level of success in shutting down drug markets. Referred to as a “ceasefire,” Kennedy’s approach is also used to reduce gang violence (Seabrook 2009).

Drug-Sniffing Dogs

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled (Indianapolis v. Edmond et al. 531 U.S. 32) that in the absence of any suspicion, police checkpoints that briefly detain drivers and use drug-sniffing dogs violate the Fourth Amendment. Checkpoints are permitted, however, for discovering and taking intoxicated drivers off the road because that protects public safety. In 2005, however, the Court ruled (Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405) that during a routine traffic stop police may use a trained dog to sniff the car for drugs. Such drug-sniffing activity had already been ruled permissible for luggage at airports.

   Street-level enforcement is expensive and, if it is to be more than briefly effective, must be combined with sufficient prison space to accommodate the increase in population. In an attempt to stem the 1985 crack epidemic in New York City, police initiated a street-level crackdown with impressive results: Crack arrests and jailings reached record levels; felony drug arrests went up 21 percent the first year and 70 percent the next. Total jail sentences for drug felonies increased by 60 percent in 1987. Nevertheless, the street price of crack dropped steadily. And in response to the stepped-up police activity, crack dealers began recruiting thousands of young addicts to make street sales, overwhelming a number of city neighborhoods as well as the city’s overextended police force. Placing unusually large resources in one area also raises the possibility that the problem will be displaced into areas where law enforcement efforts are less concentrated. Furthermore, the reduction of crime in Lynn, Massachusetts, discussed earlier was short-lived, and a similar crackdown in Lawrence, Massachusetts, actually resulted in an increase in crime, particularly burglary and robbery (A. Barnett 1988Bouza 1990).

   In New York, in response to intensive police efforts against street dealing, sellers moved away from high-profile and vulnerable street sales to mobile delivery services using pagers and/or cellular telephones. As a result of the extra costs associated with this type of drug trafficking, in terms of both the equipment and time spent making deliveries, sellers began dealing only with those who could purchase large amounts at once, with the attendant risk of increased consumption. These buyers may become dealers to their friends. This strategy can also move drug selling from urban areas into the suburbs, making drugs more accessible to those who were reluctant to purchase in neighborhoods with which they are not familiar.

   Street-level enforcement efforts bring with them the specter of corruption and related abuses: “Bribery, perjured testimony, faked evidence and abused rights in the past have accompanied street-level narcotics enforcement. Indeed, it was partly to avoid such abuses that many police departments began concentrating on higher-level traffickers and restricted drug efforts to special units” (Moore and Kleiman 1989, 8). These special units have brought problems of their own. New York provides an example. In 1971, to centralize drugs, vice, and organized crime enforcement and to prevent corruption through stricter supervision, the city established the Organized Crime Bureau. Early in 1992, the police department’s chief of inspectional services submitted a confidential report citing recent cases in which the bureau’s narcotic officers were accused of lying to strengthen cases and to obtain search warrants; there were no accusations of corruption. The report noted: “Of all units in the department, the greatest integrity hazards and vulnerability exist in narcotics” (Raab 1992).

Issues in Drug Law Enforcement

In addition to those discussed at the beginning of this chapter, several perplexing issues complicate drug law enforcement. The first involves measuring success: How can we determine whether drug law enforcement in general or specific activities in particular are successful? What criteria can provide a standard for measuring success? The number of people arrested, convicted, or imprisoned? The amount of drugs seized? The level of purity or price of the product sold on the streets? The number of people admitted to hospital emergency rooms for drug overdoses? The number of people seeking admission to drug treatment programs? In practice, we use all of these, with often confusing results. For example, increased arrests and drug seizures have often been accompanied by declining prices and greater levels of purity. A 1983 report by the U.S. Comptroller General points out that while enhanced federal resources increased the amount of illegal drugs seized, purity at the retail level increased while prices fell. The Comptroller General also revealed that some drug seizures are counted several times by different agencies that are eager to claim credit and improve their statistics. Sometimes there is triple-counting: The Coast Guard typically turns its interdicted drugs over to Customs, while the seizure may be the result of intelligence information developed by DEA, and all three agencies include the amount in their totals.

   Successful law enforcement efforts, at least in theory, should reduce the available supply of drugs while driving up the price and reducing purity. When the level of purity dips below some hypothetical level but the price remains high, the abuser will supposedly no longer find it worth his or her while to make a purchase. The abuser will either switch to a more readily available chemical— perhaps alcohol—or abandon drug use completely. In fact, successful law enforcement efforts may cause a switch from a less dangerous substance—for example, marijuana—to a more dangerous substance, such as heroin, a situation that apparently occurred when Operation Intercept at the Mexican border effectively choked off supplies of marijuana in 1969. “There was an upsurge in heroin use among urban, white, middle-class high school students shortly after Operation Intercept” (Zinberg and Robertson 1972, 210). More recent successful campaigns against marijuana might be causing an increase in the use of alcohol, particularly among adolescents. Increases in law enforcement do not necessarily translate into reductions in supply; a widely heralded (by politicians) 1986, $1.7 billion federal antidrug law resulted in an increase in drug seizures and arrests with no discernible impact on supply (J. Johnson 1987). Successful interdiction might reduce the amount of heroin and cocaine entering the United States, but if demand remains unchanged, underground chemists will be inspired to greater creativity. Indeed, experienced cocaine users cannot tell the difference between cocaine and synthetic substances that mimic cocaine, and heroin addicts often prefer the synthetic opiate fentanyl to the diluted heroin typically available on the streets.

   The structure of the drug market, as was noted in Chapter 9, makes it the last refuge of laissez-faire capitalism. The Drug Enforcement Administration (2003) argues that the “element of risk created by strong enforcement policies raises the price of drugs, and therefore lowers the demand” (7). But how does law enforcement affect the price and use of illegal drugs? Kleiman (1985) states that the key to analyzing this question “is the response of drug purchasers to increasing drug prices” (69). If there is a reduction in supply and a corresponding increase in price, will the amount of drug consumption remain unchanged? Is demand relatively inelastic to price? If demand is relatively elastic, consumption will decrease as price goes up. This will cause a decrease in the profits of drug traffickers. If demand is inelastic, however, drug law enforcement may actually increase the profits of traffickers, since those who elude arrest and prosecution will reap higher prices. With respect to heroin, Kleiman notes, consumption is likely to decrease in the long run as addicts, unable to keep up with the increase in price, enter drug treatment or find alternative drugs. The issue with respect to cocaine is more difficult. Cocaine has typically been relatively expensive, although the introduction of crack altered the market. Nevertheless, Kleiman argues, an increase in price as a result of law enforcement efforts is likely to increase the profits of cocaine traffickers; it is a market that is relatively impervious to price.

   At the domestic distribution level, successful law enforcement efforts whittle down the number of people involved in drug trafficking. This may leave a void at certain levels of distribution that, in a seller’s market, will simply attract new entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the better-organized groups resist and survive law enforcement efforts. Thus, the level of law enforcement vigor and ability determines whether or not certain groups will come to dominate the drug trade and bring a concomitant increase in profits by virtue of oligopolistic (scarcity of sellers) market circumstances. On the other hand, reduced law enforcement allows more groups to remain in business, with a corresponding reduction in profits, resulting from a more competitive market. Under such conditions organizations that are equipped with resources for violence may be tempted to use force to reduce competition.

   Another issue is the argument that the substantial investment in drug law enforcement increases criminality—drug abusers committing crimes to support habits—and diverts resources that could be better utilized to deal with more serious criminality. Police, prosecutors, and judges are occupied with drug law enforcement, and U.S. jails, prisons, and probation and parole systems are overcrowded. Our drug enforcement agents are exposed to great danger, both from a most violent class of criminals and from being around the drugs themselves.

   Our “war” on drugs is really a fight against socioeconomic dynamics that are reputed to be unconquerable: the profit motive and the law of supply and demand.

   In the next chapter, we will examine our policy for responding to drug use.

Chapter Summary

  • 1. Appreciate that the single most important factor in drug use is degree of access:
    • • The most important precipitating factor in drug use is degree of access—hence the logic of a law enforcement component in prevention.
    • • The cost of purchasing drugs can reduce availability and law enforcement efforts can affect the cost of illegal drugs.
  • 2. Know that drug law enforcement is constrained by constitutional requirements, jurisdictional limitations, and corruption:
    • • The Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule are particularly important for drug law enforcement.
    • • The federal system of government has a degree of inefficiency surpassing that of most other democratic nations.
    • • Proactive law enforcement used to combat drug trafficking is vulnerable to corruption.
    • • Corruption is often intertwined with the problem of informants.
    • • The legal foundation for federal drug law violations is Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, as amended (usually referred to as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
    • • Conspiracy statutes are valuable tools for prosecuting drug offenders.
    • • The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 made money laundering a federal crime.
    • • There are two types of forfeiture proceedings: criminal and civil. Civil forfeiture does not require criminal charges.
    • • Civil forfeiture has been criticized for its impact on innocent third parties and as a device for plea-bargaining with drug kingpins.
    • • At the local level, it is the low-level street dealer who is most frequently arrested, while federal drug law enforcement seeks to disrupt illicit trafficking organizations.
    • • Successful drug enforcement can have unintended consequences.
  • 3. Know the federal agencies responsible for combating drug trafficking:
    • • In addition to law enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, regulates the legal trade in controlled substances, and manages a national drug intelligence network.
    • • Customs and Border Protection agents and Coast Guard personnel are not bound by Fourth Amendment protections that typically restrain law enforcement.
    • • The Internal Revenue Service employs the net worth theory to deal with the tax evasion of drug traffickers.
    • • The primary responsibility of the Marshals Service relative to drug trafficking is the Witness Security Program.
    • • Department of Defense involvement in drug law enforcement is controversial.
  • 4. Understand the three categories of street-level drug enforcement:
    • • Community-wide policing.
    • • Geographically focused policing.
    • • Hot spots policing.

Review Questions

  • 1. How can law enforcement affect the cost of drug?
  • 2. What are the three issues that severely constrain drug law enforcement?
  • 3. Why are the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule particularly important for drug law enforcement?
  • 4. How does our form of government handicap efforts against drug trafficking?
  • 5. Why is proactive law enforcement used to combat drug trafficking vulnerable to corruption?
  • 6. What are the problems involved in using informants in drug law enforcement?
  • 7. What is the legal foundation for federal drug law violations?
  • 8. Why are conspiracy statutes valuable for prosecuting drug offenders?
  • 9. What is the advantage of civil over criminal forfeiture?
  • 10. What are the criticisms of civil forfeiture?
  • 11. In addition to law enforcement, what are the responsibilities of the Drug Enforcement Administration?
  • 12. What is the unusual power enjoyed by Customs and Border Protection agents and Coast Guard personnel?
  • 13. How does the Internal Revenue Service deal with the tax evasion of drug traffickers?
  • 14. Why is Department of Defense involvement in drug law enforcement controversial?
  • 15. What is the role of INTERPOL in dealing with drug trafficking?
  • 16. What are the categories of street-level drug enforcement?
  • 17. What are the advantages of street-level drug enforcement?
  • 18. What has been the affect of successful efforts against drug trafficking?
  • 19. What are the features of the “drug market intervention initiative” that is the brainchild of David Kennedy?
  • 20. What are the unintended consequences of street-level drug law enforcement?
  • 21. Why is it difficult to measure success in drug law enforcement?


President Barack Obama signing the 2009 “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act”

After reading this chapter, you will:

  • ▸ Know the two basic models for responding to drug use: disease model and moral-legal model
  • ▸ Understand the U.S. policy of supply reduction through law enforcement and source country eradication
  • ▸ Understand why U.S. efforts against drug trafficking are often secondary to foreign policy considerations
  • ▸ Know the practical and ethical issues surrounding the criminalized nonmedical use of drugs during pregnancy
  • ▸ Understand the reasoning and effectiveness of statutes authorizing compulsory drug treatment
  • ▸ Know why medical marijuana has become a major issue
  • ▸ Understand how the measurement of results is a major problem with instituting any changes in policy

Rocky Mountain High

Dating back to the 1970s and celebrated every April 20, the annual pot party known as “4/20” draws large crowds to the University of Colorado, one of the largest marijuana festivals in the nation. Once again, in 2012, “despite a buzz-killing backdrop of federal raids and local crackdowns, marijuana fans celebrated their high holiday in traditional ways: smoking, speaking out and—no doubt—snacking.”

Source: McKinley 201211.

Tell It to the Judge

“Inhaled marijuana,” writes New York State Supreme Court Judge Gustin Reichbach, “is the only medication that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless…. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me the ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permit desperately needed sleep.” In 2012, Judge Reichbach lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Source: Reichback 201227.

 If we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely in time destroy us.

President Richard M. Nixon (1971)

 Our current drug policies allow avoidable harm by their ineffectiveness and create needless suffering by their excesses.

Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, and Angela Hawken (2011xxi)

Out of the history that we explored in Chapter 8, two basic models were developed for responding to the use of dangerous substances. The first is a disease model: The abuser is “helpless” and “blameless,” analogous to the cancer or coronary patient. This model defines substance abuse as a disease to be prevented or treated, just like any other public health problem. The second is a moral—legal model that defines alcohol and other psychoactive drugs as either legal or illegal and attempts to control availability through penalties. The moral—legal model utilizes three methods to control potentially dangerous drugs:

  • ▸ Regulation: Certain substances that may be harmful to their consumers can be sold with only minimal restrictions. These substances are heavily taxed, providing government with an important source of revenue. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are subjected to disproportionate taxation, and their sale is restricted to people above a certain age. Special licenses are usually required for the manufacture, distribution, and sale of regulated substances.
  • ▸ Medical auspices: The use of certain potentially harmful substances is permitted under medical supervision. The medical profession is given control over legal access to specific substances that have medical uses because when the substances are taken under the direction of a physician, their value outweighs their danger (J. Kaplan 1983a). In this category are barbiturates, amphetamines, certain opiates (morphine and codeine), and heroin substitutes, such as methadone and OxyContin.
  • ▸ Criminalization: Statutory limitations make the manufacture or possession of certain dangerous substances a crime and empower specific public officials to enforce these statutes. Certain other substances are permitted under medical auspices, but punishment is specified for individuals who possess these substances outside of accepted medical practice. Thus, heroin has no permissible use in the United States—an absolute prohibition—while other psychoactive substances, such as morphine and Seconal (secobarbital sodium), are permissible for medical use but are illegal under any other circumstances.

   The official response to a particular substance—regulation or law enforcement—determines the manner in which the user of that substance will be treated. Thus, the alcoholic is typically viewed according to the disease model, while the user of illegal drugs has the criminal label attached. From the Civil War to the 1920s, the U.S. response to dangerous drugs moved from permissiveness to one of rigid law enforcement—from the public health model to the moral—legal model. The practical effect of this change was “to define the addict as a criminal offender” (Schur 1965, 130), leading to the creation of a vast black market in which drug entrepreneurs quickly filled the void left by the withdrawal of lawful sources: “In the 1920s this country had a large number of addicts, but they were not regarded as criminals by the law; in general, they did not commit crimes and conducted their lives much the same way as the nonaddict population did. Clinics and private physicians were free to prescribe maintenance doses. It was the outlawing of the addictive drug that gave rise to an illegal market controlled by organized crime; and it is the exorbitant cost of the outlawed drug that has driven addicts into criminal activity to support their habit” (National Council on Crime and Delinquency 1974, 4).

   Drug policy in the United States has been guided by “commonly shared simplifications”—in particular, the belief that “drug problems are largely attributable to morally compromised or pathological individuals who were not properly inculcated in childhood with normal American values such as self-control and respect for the law. These individuals must be disciplined and punished by authorities in order to “deter them from involvement (for pleasure or profit) with inherently dangerous, addicting drugs” (Gerstein and Harwood 1990, 41).

   Drug use, notes Sykes (1967), “became defined as a fundamental affront, part of a larger pattern challenging society with an alternative view of a meaningful life.” The wrongdoing of the drug user was “moved into the category of the most serious offense—treason—where the individual forsakes his society for an enemy allegiance” (77). A “clearer case of misapplication of the criminal sanction,” writes Herbert Packer (1968), “would be difficult to imagine” (333). Post-Harrison Act efforts against certain psychoactive chemicals were based on their potential to harm users. Policy has now come full circle, and it is the user who is the target of vigorous enforcement efforts: “We must focus responsibility and sanctions on illegal drug users” (White House Conference for a Drug Free America 1988, 9).

Incongruities Between Facts and Policies

Before examining the current policy, we need to return to the first chapter and recall some incongruities. Of the most widely used psychoactive drugs, heroin and cocaine (except for limited topical use) are banned; barbiturates, tranquilizers, and amphetamines are restricted; and alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine products are freely available save for young adults and minors. These inconsistencies make any response to the problem of substance abuse very difficult. How do you tell the progeny of cigarette-smoking, coffee- and alcohol-drinking, sedative-using parents that drugs should not be used for recreational purposes? “Someone who smokes tobacco is a smoker, but someone who smokes marijuana is a drug user” (Whiteacre 2005, 9). Therefore, “a major step toward developing sounder policy with respect to drugs would be to use that label for alcohol and nicotine (as the scientific literature already does), and to make an augmented Office of Drug Control Policy responsible for coordinating federal policy toward alcohol and nicotine as part of the overall national drug control strategy” (Reuter and Caulkins 1995, 1061).

   To what extent does knowledge actually affect drug policy? Although nicotine and alcohol are clearly dangerous psychoactive chemicals—drugs—semantic fiction portrays them otherwise. Statutory vocabulary and social folklore have established the fiction that alcohol and nicotine are not really drugs at all (National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse 1973). Furthermore, as the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse points out, to do otherwise would be inconsistent with our stated policy goal of eliminating drug abuse—an admission that we can never eliminate the problem. Joseph Gusfield (1975) suggests that we distinguish between scientific knowledge—the body of facts and theories related to drug use— and political knowledge, which concerns public attitudes toward drug use, including scientific knowledge. Zinberg (1984) states that in the field of drug use, the truth will not necessarily set one free. The scientific truth he notes, is that not all psychoactive drug use is misuse; but because this concept contravenes formal social policy, those who present this message run the risk that “their work will be interpreted as condoning use” (200).

   Our response to easily abused substances is not based on the degree of danger inherent in their use. Indeed, measured on any dimension, alcohol is a more serious drug of abuse than marijuana, though this is not reflected in the U.S. legal system. And while marijuana smokers are subject to arrest and prosecution, people who smoke tobacco are left free of restraint save for the inconvenience posed by smoking-related cancer and emphysema. In 2006, it was determined that for some unknown reason, smoking marijuana does not increase the risk of lung cancer (Bloomberg News 2006). Furthermore, many dangerous substances, such as amphetamines, barbiturates, and a variety of sedatives, were actively promoted for use in dealing with anxiety, stress, obesity, or insomnia. Famous abusers of these substances, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, who have been commemorated on our postage stamps, are representative of a large abusing population that is not subjected to arrest and imprisonment. The pushers of these substances—the drug companies and their willing partners in the medical profession—are not arrested or prosecuted.

   That some drugs are outlawed while others are legally and widely available is better understood in terms other than those of science or medicine: in terms of the tobacco industry, the alcoholic-beverage industry, the drug-manufacturing industry, the dietary supplements industry, and, as seen in Chapter 8, prejudice and racism. The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act allows manufacturers to market an array of products, many of them ephedra-based, with claims that these products will boost energy levels, improve your sex drive and performance, help you to lose weight, and cause you to gain muscle. “The law states that you don’t have to prove natural supplements are safe or effective before you market them; the government has to prove that they aren’t after the fact” (O’Keefe and Quinn 2005, 88). Ironically, one of the major purveyors of these products is a multimillionaire and convicted drug dealer. In 2004, supplements containing ephedra were banned by the Food and Drug Administration.

   In addition to political contributions, the purveyors of legal psychoactive substances are able to protect their interests through advertising and employment of media specialists. In fact, the public’s knowledge of and response to the “drug problem” is mediated through newspapers and television. Frightening news stories create pressure for more vigorous drug enforcement, which increases drug-fighting budgets, which yield more arrests (L. G. Hunt 1977). The resulting statistics are then viewed as proof of a growing drug problem. “Evidence,” in fact, “has little bearing on the kind of moral beliefs many people hold: that the use of psychoactive drugs is wrong, and their sale more wrong; or that government intrusion into the drug use decision is wrong, and harsh sanctions against possession are also wrong” (Caulkins et al. 2005, 2).

   The “volume of attention generated when the national press converges on a story, like drugs, virtually demands a political response. In their haste, these [politicians’] reactions may not always be carefully considered” (Merriam 1989, 31). Convergence occurs when media sources discover an issue and respond to each other “in a cycle of peaking coverage, before largely dismissing the issues” (Reese and Danielian 1989, 30n). In 1989, for example, President George H. W. Bush made a major television address during which he declared “war on drugs.” For the next week, network news averaged four stories each evening on drugs, and an opinion poll indicated that 64 percent of the public viewed drugs as America’s most important problem. A year later, that figure had fallen to 10 percent as new problems received presidential and media attention (Oreskes 1990).

   On November 17, 1985, crack cocaine was mentioned for the first time in the major media, in the New York Times. In less than eleven months, every major news source had stories about crack—more than 1,000 of them—capped by specials on CBS and NBC (Inciardi et al. 1996). This set off an ill-conceived and, some argue, racist legislative response. Under federal law, for purposes of punishment a given amount of crack is equivalent to 100 times that amount of powdered cocaine. In the twenty-first century, it would be difficult to find mention of crack in the major media.

   With these incongruities serving as a backdrop, let us critically examine U.S. drug policy.

Supply Reduction Through the Criminal Sanction

In theory, in a free-market economy reducing the supply of a product will drive up the price and thus reduce demand and consumption. But in the drug economy an increase in price might just raise the revenue for traffickers because there is no significant decrease in consumption. The evidence is that there is not a single documented instance in which one or a succession of high-level drug cases coincided with a substantial reduction in consumption in a city (Kleiman 1989). DiNardo (1993) failed to find “any significant effects of law enforcement on the price of cocaine faced by users” (63). Enforcement success may simply eliminate the less-organized criminal distributors, resulting in an increase in the profits of criminal organizations that are strong enough and ruthless enough to survive.

Unintended Consequences

Regardless of what we think we are trying to do, when we make it illegal to traffic in commodities for which there is an inelastic demand, the effect is to secure a kind of monopoly profit to the entrepreneur who is willing to break the law. In effect, we say to him: “We will set up a barrier to entry into this line of commerce by making it illegal and, therefore, risky; if you are willing to take the risk, you will be sheltered from the competition of those who are unwilling to do so. Of course, if we catch you, you may possibly (although not necessarily) be put out of business; but meanwhile you are free to gather the fruits that grow in the hothouse atmosphere we are providing for you.”

Source: Packer 1968279.

   An alternative strategy, focusing on lower-level dealers, presents additional problems: the political problem of going after small wrongdoers while largely ignoring the big ones (Kleiman 1985) and the practical problem of the cost of arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning large numbers of people. This approach was the mainstay of the so-called (Governor) “Rockefeller Laws” in New York during the 1970s. As a result, the time needed to dispose of drug cases nearly doubled between 1973 and 1976, and by mid-1976 the system was approaching collapse. Ironically, research found that the use of drugs increased during this time, as did drug-related crimes such as burglary, robbery, and theft (Joint Committee on New York Drug Law Evaluation 1977).

   In 1987, the strategy suggested by Kleiman caused New York City to establish special courts to rapidly dispose of felony drug cases through plea bargaining because the regular criminal courts were being flooded with arrests of street-level drug dealers. Because of the volume, it was taking six to twelve months to dispose of a case, which created a chaotically overcrowded situation on Riker’s Island, the city jail for people awaiting trial (Raab 1987). In the decade from 1981 to 1991, the average daily jail population in New York City increased 170 percent. The New York Times concluded that “New York City’s war on drugs has resulted in so many arrests that there are simply not enough prosecutors, judges, Legal Aid lawyers or probation officers to give adequate attention to each of the thousands of cases, let alone courtrooms to try the suspects in or jail cells to hold the convicts” (“Drug Arrests and the Courts’ Pleas for Help” 1989, E6).

   Other states followed New York’s lead, with similar results. The number of people who were convicted of drug felonies in state courts increased almost 70 percent in the two-year period from 1988 to 1990. In Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, the chief criminal court judge stated that drug cases were overwhelming the county’s court system (O’Connor 1990). In the federal courts the number of drug arrests so backed up the system that judges were unable to attend to civil cases, increasing delays despite a drop in the number of civil filings. By 2004, federal prisons were operating at 140 percent of capacity, and state prisons were operating at 115 percent of capacity (Prisoners in 20042005). Jails throughout the United States are being operated severely over capacity, and any strategy that causes a significant increase in the inmate population could be disastrous. Indeed, ridding prisons of (supposedly) nonviolent drug offenders is frequently offered as a remedy for prison overcrowding.

   The General Accounting Office (1991) found that overcrowded jails and prisons, the result of increased drug arrests and prosecutions, resulted in more offenders being placed in the probation and parole systems, which, in turn, has generally decreased the level of supervision of probationers and parolees as a result of excessive caseloads. It also led to emergency prison release programs and an increase in plea bargaining—signs of a system spinning its wheels. In 1996 and again in 1998, Arizona voters took matters into their own hands and enacted propositions that mandate treatment instead of imprisonment for drug offenders (Egan 1999b).

How about Sealing Our Borders?

At the end of 2011, an inmate at Tucson, Arizona’s Santa Rita prison complex, who was serving a sentence for several armed robberies, died of a heroin overdose. If you can’t keep heroin out of a maximum security prison … And, of course, methamphetamine, marijuana, and a whole list of prescription drugs, do not have to be smuggled into the country.

Source: Piazza 2011.

A Racist Drug War?

A study conducted by USA Today revealed that African Americans are four times as likely as whites to be arrested on drug charges, even though both groups use drugs at about the same rate; and African Americans are more likely to be imprisoned for drug charges than are non-Hispanic whites (Meddis 1993). A more recent study found that black men are nearly twelve times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men (Eckholm 2008b). “African Americans comprise approximately 12% of the United States population, 13% of drug users, 35% of drug arrests for possession, 55% of drug convictions and 74% of prison sentences” (Chambers 2011, 3–4). Blacks in New York are seven times more likely to be arrested than whites for simple marijuana possession; Latinos are four times more likely (Dwyer 2009). Not only are members of minority groups more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses, they are punished with longer sentences than their white counterparts (Office of National Drug Control Policy 2012).

   Cocaine, in the form of crack, is most likely to be used and sold by African Americans, while powdered cocaine is often used and sold by whites. Under federal statutes, “It takes one hundred times the amount of powder cocaine to equal the same sentence as crack cocaine” (Illicit Drug Policies2002, 134). A cocaine dealer would have to sell $75,000 worth of the drug in powdered form to get the same mandatory five-year federal sentence that a crack dealer would receive for selling $750 worth. And “crack is the only drug that carries a mandatory prison term for possession, whether or not the intent is to distribute” (C. Jones 1995, 9).

   In 1991, the Minnesota Supreme Court found unconstitutional and discriminatory against African Americans a state law providing twenty years in prison for crack possession but only five years for possession of powdered cocaine. In 1988, of the people charged with crack possession in Minnesota 96.6 percent were black, while those charged with possessing cocaine hydrochloride were 79.6 percent white (State v. Russell 477 N.W.2d 886). The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act reduced the disparity in federal sentencing for future crack cases.

   The war on drugs also exacerbates racial disparities related to health and well-being in minority communities: Federal law prohibits ex-prison inmates from receiving any federal benefits for five years if their conviction was for drug possession or drug trafficking; they are also barred from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and food stamps; and they become ineligible for one year after conviction, two years after a second conviction, and indefinitely after a third for federal education assistance (“How the War on Drugs Influences the Health and Well-Being of Minority Communities” 2001).

Another Victory in the War On Drugs

In Texas, the single, thirty-year-old, African-American mother of two, was arrested in a drug sweep. Maintaining her innocence, she rejected a prosecutor’s offer of probation in exchange for a guilty plea. After a month in jail, fearing for her children, she agreed to the plea deal, received ten years probation, and was ordered to pay $1,000. Destitute, and now with a felony record, she was barred from receiving food stamps and evicted from public housing.

Source: M. Alexander 2012.

Would Changing the Penalties Help?

What about a policy of incarceration for only the most serious criminal offenders, such as robbers, among the drug-abusing population? Unfortunately, this is not feasible according to a study by Johnson, Lipton, and Wish (1986a): “Existing criminal justice practices would fail to detect most persons who actually are robber-dealers” (187). Furthermore, their research found that none of the high-rate addict-robbers were ever arrested for robbery. This brings into question the oft-stated strategy of reducing the prison population by releasing “non-violent” drug offenders. In fact, “less than 1 percent of self-reported crimes by cocaine-heroin abusers result in an arrest” (1986b, 4).

   In a report to the Ford Foundation, Wald and Hutt (1972) recommended reducing penalties to a fine or abolishing them completely for those possessing drugs for personal use: “If this were done, drug users—but not drug traffickers—could then be handled on a public health and social-welfare basis…. Law-enforcement efforts would, and in our opinion should, continue, but they would be directed at illegal distribution. And illegal drugs would remain subject to confiscation wherever found” (37). In Switzerland and the Netherlands, there is an unofficial policy of tolerating small-time drug sellers and their customers, as long as they do not become public nuisances (discussed in Chapter 12). At best, states Kleiman (1989), law enforcement efforts can prevent the “effective decriminalization” of drugs, the point at which trafficking “is so open and flagrant that demand increases because the apparent social disapproval is reduced” (xviii).

   Increasing penalties for drug trafficking seems an unrealistic strategy because sentences for trafficking are already high—forty years for a second offense—and because capital punishment (for drug-transaction-related murders) has become part of the federal effort against drugs. Severe penalties encourage in traffickers the mindset that they have little or nothing to lose by using violence in their attempts to avoid arrest and prosecution.

   China, Iran, Malaysia, and Vietnam execute drug dealers, but the impact of this policy is questionable. Although Malaysia imposes the death penalty for anyone who is found trafficking in heroin or marijuana, the substances are readily available even to foreigners traveling through that country. The People’s Republic of China routinely executes drug traffickers who are found in possession of a pound or more of heroin. Every June 26, on United Nations “International Day against Drug Abuse,” China executes dozens of drug traffickers. Despite the executions drug trafficking continues to thrive, particularly in Yunnan and Guangdong provinces in southern China, and the country has become a transshipment point for Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent heroin (French 2004). Draconian attempts to deal with opium and heroin use in Iran have proven unsuccessful. While traffickers are routinely hung, in contrast to the United States, Iran also uses a harm reduction approach to heroin addicts: needle distribution, methadone maintenance, and an extensive network of government-supported treatment programs (Fahti 2008).

Improving Drug Law Enforcement

In theory, if law enforcement success drives up the price of drugs significantly and/or the amount available for consumption falls off considerably, users will seek treatment or give up their drug-using habits. Indeed, research has found that the amount of heroin use is related to price (Bach and Lantos 1999). However, when drug users are unable to secure their preferred substance they can switch to more available substances, such as methamphetamine instead of cocaine, or OxyContin instead of heroin. As long as demand remains strong, successful interdiction will encourage the production of domestic inorganic (agonists) depressants and stimulants.

   In 1995, the DEA seized of large quantities of precursor chemicals that disrupted the methamphetamine supply chain. As a result, the price of methamphetamine in California tripled while purity decreased from 90 to 20 percent. Within four months, however, the price returned to its original level and within eighteen months so did purity (RAND Drug Policy Research Center 2009).

Cost Ineffectiveness

While a modest amount of drug enforcement drives up prices a lot, more enforcement does not drive them up much further, a phenomenon known as “diminishing returns.”

Source: Kleiman, Caulkins, and Hawken 2011.

   Cowan (1986) argues that federal efforts against cocaine led to the development of crack: “The iron law of drug prohibition is that the more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the drug will become.The latest stage of this cycle has brought us the crack epidemic” (27). Free-market conditions provide an incentive for traffickers to improve the attractiveness of their product. Fagan and Chin (1991) point out that crack was the subject of an ingenious production and marketing strategy. A glut of cocaine forced prices down in 1983, but even lower prices did not keep up with production: “At this point, a new product was introduced which offered the chance to expand the market in ways never before possible: crack, packaged in small quantities and selling for $5 and sometimes even less—a fraction of the usual minimum for powder—allowed dealers to attract an entirely new class of consumers. Once it took hold this change was very swift and very sweeping” (T. Williams 1989, 7).

   Crack never became a mainstream drug and by 1990 the epidemic had peaked, but heroin use increased. Because heroin had lost its dominant market position to cocaine, heroin purity levels increased substantially, drawing in new users who can snort or smoke the substance instead of injecting it intravenously in the more traditional manner. But the “crack scare” of the 1980s left in its wake new laws and greater use of imprisonment, adding significantly to an already overcrowded prison system (Egan 1999a). As Musto (1998) notes: “History shows that excessive use of a drug at one time does not mean that such a high rate will continue indefinitely; the drug may fade in esteem and usage, even to the vanishing point. Reasonable drug policies must take into account the long-term perspective. We should avoid hastily surrendering to defeat at a time of extensive use nor declare victory after a long and deep decline in drug use” (58).

   Reducing the market for illegal drugs can have unpleasant outcomes because “competition will increase among dealers, perhaps violently. In addition, because selling cocaine has been the primary source of earnings for poor adult males dependent on cocaine, these individuals may turn to other forms of crime to finance their continued consumption, relying more on muggings, burglary, and shoplifting for income, just as heroin users/dealers have done for many years” (RAND Drug Policy Research Center 1992, Internet).

Good News, Bad News

In 2005, Iowa, like nearly thirty other states, enacted a law restricting the sale of cold medicines whose pseudoephedrine can be used to make methamphetamine. As a result, during the first seven months there was a significant decrease in home-cooked methamphetamine; lab seizures went from 120 to 20, and whereas $2.8 million dollars had been spent in 2004 on treating people at the University of Iowa Burn Center whose skin had been scorched by toxic chemicals, there was a virtual absence of victims in 2005. But the bad news: more methamphetamine-dependent patients were under treatment and the seizure of the drug increased as the home-made powdered version was replaced by the more powerful Mexican crystal methamphetamine.

Source: Zernike 2006a.

   Wisotsky (1987) argues that our law enforcement efforts have failed and will continue to do so. He certainly has the lessons of history and classical economics on his side. “Stop talking about winning drug wars,” states Trebach (1987). “In the broadest sense, there is no way to win because we cannot make the drugs or their abusers go away. They will always be with us. We have never run a successful drug war and never will” (383). Insofar as drug abuse is caused by societal deficiencies in education, housing, and other quality-of-life-variables, the more we expend on law enforcement, the less resources will be available to deal with these social ills, which continue to foster greater drug abuse. Not only are we spinning our wheels in the mud, but the faster we go, the deeper the hole becomes.

   We must recognize a troubling aspect of drug trafficking: It operates according to the powerful forces of free-market capitalism. It is paradoxical that politicians who argue that capitalism defeated Communism in Eastern Europe also talk of defeating the business of drugs. They fail to acknowledge that these same forces operate in the drug trade— and that government cannot compete effectively with the free market. As infamous Cali Cartel leader Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela pointed out: “Economics has a natural law: Supply is determined by the demand. When cocaine stops being consumed, when there’s no demand for it … that will be the end of the business” (Moody 1991, 36).

Supply Reduction by Controlling Drugs at Their Source

Attempting to control drugs at their source has had unintended consequences: displacement—the “balloon effect”—and human rights violations. The successful effort to force Turkey to curtail its production of opium in the 1970s resulted in a concomitant rise in opium production in Mexico and Southeast Asia. Mexican antidrug efforts led to a rise in poppy production in neighboring Guatemala, whose government is ill equipped to respond to the problem. Crackdowns in Colombia succeeded in displacing the problem into other countries: Ecuador and Brazil now have cocaine-processing laboratories; Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile have emerged as major money-laundering centers; and drug-related corruption scandals have hit Argentina and Venezuela, which, along with Chile, serve as major cocaine transshipment centers.

   Bolivia reduced coca cultivation by more than half, but at a price: According to the Human Rights Watch, pressure on the government of Bolivia to deal with coca cultivation led to widespread trampling of civil rights and physical abuse of citizenry (Vivanco 1995). In response to declines in these source countries, Colombian wholesalers who bought Bolivian and Peruvian coca increased domestic production (Krauss 1999a).

   Coca production in Colombia has more than doubled from 1995 to 2000; the country is now the source of more than 500 tons of cocaine a year, 90 percent of the world’s supply. The breakup of the powerful Colombian Medellín and Cali drug cartels spurred coca cultivation in more remote regions of the country and resulted in alliances between new drug gangs and leftist guerillas. Added to this volatile mix are right-wing paramilitary forces that, like their left-wing enemies, are supported by the drug trade. “Feeling relatively safe on their native soil, native coca-growing syndicates have invested heavily in developing more potent strains, some of which can be harvested in as little as 60 days” (Rohter 2000b, 1). Colombian syndicates have achieved extraordinary levels of efficiency in extracting cocaine from their coca crops. Higher-yielding varieties of coca are being grown in parts of Colombia. Likewise, Colombian laboratory operators became more efficient in processing coca leaf into cocaine base than they had been previously (U.S. Department of State 2000).

   After Congress approved a Clinton administration allocation of $1.6 billion to help the Colombian government fight drug traffickers an editorial in the Chicago Tribune (March 12, 2000) argued: “This policy threatens to entangle the U.S. in a decade-old foreign guerilla war while doing nothing to dampen the engine that ultimately drives narcotrafficking: America’s roughly $50 billion a year appetite for illicit drugs” (18). The editorial, after noting the involvement of the Colombian army and its right-wing paramilitary allies in massive human rights violations, stated: “It would be repugnant to funnel American aid to a foreign army with such bloody credentials.” And “the latest chapter in America’s long war on drugs—a six-year, $4.7 billion effort to slash Colombia’s coca crop—has left the price, quality and availability of cocaine on American streets virtually unchanged” (Forero 2006, 1).1

   There is one immutable rule in the drug business: As long as demand remains strong, successful efforts against it at the source level will shift cultivation to a new location. This is what happened in Peru in 2002. In addition to shifting much production to Colombia, a tightened supply has tempted poor farmers in virgin areas to begin cultivating coca (Forero 2002). With financial support from the United States, Colombia is using more than eighty planes to spray herbicide on more than 1 million acres of coca and poppy plants—five planes have been shot down. Nevertheless, cocaine prices in the United States remained stable, and purity improved (Brinkley 2005). An editorial in the New York Times (May 27, 2005) concluded that “Forcible crop eradication moves the problem around, enriches traffickers by raising the price of their holdings, and creates turmoil in rural areas” (22).

   In Peru and Bolivia, inhabitants of coca-growing areas are strongly opposed to U.S.-inspired efforts to eradicate their most important cash crop, and both countries face Marxist insurgencies that are particularly strong in these remote regions. Unfortunately, in addition to providing a livelihood for impoverished Bolivian farmers, cocaine brings into Bolivia more money than all legal exports combined.

   In Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley, which extends for 200 miles along the Huallaga River, an estimated 60,000 families depend on coca as a cash crop for their survival. Large-scale eradication carries with it the risk of social convulsion and resentment that Marxist guerrillas exploited during the 1980s (Riding 1988, 6). Coca, by 1990, was Peru’s largest export, earning more than 1 billion dollars a year and with as many as 1 million of the country’s 21 million citizens involved in the trade (Massing 1990). Under President Alberto K. Fujimori,2 Peruvian armed forces shot down planes suspected of transporting drugs—about twenty-five aircraft met this fate. This strategy succeeded in breaking the “air bridge,” and when the price of coca leaf dropped more than 60 percent in 1995, farmers began abandoning the crop. With U.S. help, Peruvian officials began teaching farmers to raise coffee instead of coca. By 1999, however, traffickers had reopened some air routes and had replaced others with river, road, and sea channels, once again making coca again profitable, and the crop rebounded (Krauss 1999b). Government anti-coca efforts in Bolivia left thousands of Indian farmers without a source of income and helped to generate violent protests that left several soldiers, police officers, and farmers dead (Associated Press 2000b).

   “Not only is coca fully integrated into Andean society but it is also an integral part of the region’s ecosystem—a stubborn and dismaying biological fact impeding those who would like to make it disappear. As a cultivated plant, coca is nearly ideal. It has few predators and pests…. The plant will grow in soils too poor and on slopes too steep to support other crops, will live for forty years or more, and will tolerate many harvests a year” (Weil 1995, 72).

   Wisotsky (1987) states that “in both Peru and Bolivia, the failure of coca control is not a temporary aberration but a function of culture, tradition, and the weakness and poverty of underdevelopment. These basic social conditions render effective enforcement against coca impossible. Widespread corruption in the enforcement agencies, the judiciary, and elsewhere in government is endemic. Indeed, the central governments do not necessarily control major portions of the coca-growing countryside, where the traffickers rule like feudal lords” (157). Participation in the illicit cocaine economy, writes Morales (1986), “is inevitable. Not only is the natives’ traditional way of life intertwined with coca, but their best cash crop is the underground economy for which no substitute has yet been provided” (157).

   In 1999, thirteen people, including jurists, doctors, artists, religious leaders, and three former Latin American presidents—Belisario Betancur of Colombia, Violeta Chamorro of Nicaragua, and Nobel Peace Prize—laureate Oscar Arias of Costa Rica—signed a letter stating that the U.S.-led military-style war on drugs has failed and should be changed to focus more on ending the demand for drugs and drug money. “The escalation of a militarized drug war in Colombia and elsewhere in the Americas threatens regional stability, undermines efforts towards demilitarization and democracy and has put U.S. arms and money into the hands of corrupt officials and military … units involved in human rights abuses. It is time to admit that after two decades, the U.S. war on drugs—both in Latin America and in the United States—is a failure” (Jelinek 1999).

   In 2002, President George W. Bush met with the Bolivian president at the White House. The Bolivian leader promised President Bush that he would press ahead in his campaign to eradicate the coca crop but needed more U.S. assistance to help ease the impact on farmers. Otherwise, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozado stated, “I may be back here in a year seeking political asylum.” Mr. Bush laughed and wished him luck. The following year, Mr. Lozado was living in exile in the United States after having been ousted by a popular uprising (Rohter 2003). In 2005, Bolivia elected a leader of cocalero movement, coca growers opposed to U.S. eradication efforts.

Crop Eradication or Substitution

Crop substitution programs have been part of our effort to control drugs at their source but have met with only limited success. As long as demand remains high, the price offered for poppy or coca will be many times that received for conventional crops. There are other problems: In 1991, the leader of a Peruvian coca growers association who had agreed to a crop substitution program was murdered, reputedly by corrupt government officials who earned money from the cocaine business (Strong 1992).

   Attempts to eradicate the crop by cutting or burning result in healthier and more bountiful growth, and uprooting coca plants causes the soil to become unproductive for as long as eight to ten years (Morales 1989). An eradication program in the Upper Huallaga Valley was established with U.S. funding in 1982, but about forty of its workers were eventually murdered. The United States subsequently suspended the program (Massing 1990).

   An alternative is the use of aerial herbicides that are either sprayed or dropped as pellets and that melt into the soil when it rains. The United States has been conducting research on a variety of environmentally safe herbicides. The most successful herbicides, however, kill many species of plants, including crop plants, and remain in the soil, affecting future plantings. Environmentalists have raised objections to the use of herbicides, and the companies that produce them are concerned about potential liability and fear that their employees in South America could become targets of retribution by trafficking organizations (Riding 1988). Furthermore, McIntosh (1988) has found that a “single genetic mutation can give rise to complete resistance in a similar herbicide. This implies it may be necessary to continually spray different classes of herbicides in the future” (26). The human and political dangers inherent in this approach to drug control should serve as a restraining influence.

   Successful eradication and interdiction efforts can affect both availability and price. However, because of the pattern of price markups in the cocaine business, efforts to eradicate crops or supply routes that increase the cost of the coca leaf tenfold add only 5 percent to the retail consumer price, and doubling seizures from importers increases consumer cost by only 10 percent (Passell 1990). “It costs cocaine refiners only 30 cents to purchase the coca leaf needed to produce a gram of cocaine, which sells for about $150 in the United States. Even if the price of the leaves needed for that gram of the finished produce doubled, it would be negligible. And if retail prices don’t rise, then consumption in the United States will not decline” (Reuter 2000, 29).

   If all of the coca that the producing countries of Latin America have publicly committed themselves to eradicate were actually eradicated, the effect in the United States would be minimal. It is likely that African, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian areas would be able to cultivate enough to meet consumer demand in coca indefinitely (as they have done with opium). It should be noted that coca leaf has been grown commercially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan. Indeed, the crop that is grown in Java and Taiwan contains more than twice the cocaine of the varieties grown in Latin America (Karch 1998). Epstein (1988) points out that “the entire cocaine market in the United States can be supplied for a year by a single cargo plane” (25). Furthermore, as was noted earlier, curtailing importation without affecting demand provides an incentive for greater domestic efforts: the production of synthetic analogs for cocaine and heroin and stronger strains of marijuana.

   The highly inventive marijuana horticulturists of California are using a new, fastergrowing, highly potent strain that matures in three months (older strains require four months). Cultivation of this new strain has been discovered in the national forests of Northern California. (Growing marijuana on federal lands was made a felony in 1987, punishable by a prison term of up to ten years.) Indoor cultivation of very powerful strains of marijuana has blossomed in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. Although Canadian law is similar to the United States with respect to marijuana, attitudes in British Columbia reflect a different mindset; even wholesale growers receive light penalties, often just fines. Much of the of the province’s crop is smuggled into the United States, where it fetches premium prices owing to the high level of its THC.

   In response to law enforcement efforts against imported marijuana, some innovative growers have established elaborate underground farms equipped with diesel-powered lights and ventilation systems. Their use of hydroponic technology—growing plants in water to which nutrients have been added—has helped to make marijuana the number one cash crop in the United States.

Aerial marijuana searches continue to locate illegal farms, but as this photo shows, clever cultivators have gone underground. Innovations can include diesel-powered lights, ventilation systems, and hydroponic technology.

Drug Enforcement and Foreign Policy

There is evidence that U.S. efforts against drug trafficking are often secondary to foreign policy considerations. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, for example, requires the president to certify to Congress that producer and transshipment nations have made adequate progress in attacking drug production and trafficking. Without certification a country can lose aid, loans, and trade preferences. Sciolino (1988) reports that the law has numerous loopholes that have allowed several nations to be certified despite their failure to cooperate in the war against drugs. In 1990, of the twenty-four major drug-producing and drug-transiting countries only four—Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iran, and Syria—were denied certification. At the other extreme, in 1990, the United States turned to the military in Guatemala, a major producer of opium and a leading transshipment point for Colombian cocaine, to take the lead in efforts against trafficking; the Guatemalan military has been responsible for human rights abuses that have plagued the country (Gruson 1990).

   For many years the United States tolerated the drug-trafficking activities of Central American ally General Manuel Noriega. When his politics took on a decidedly anti-U.S. tone, in 1988 the general was indicted and apprehended, following the “Operation Just Cause” invasion of Panama by the U.S. military. (For a discussion of Noriega, his relationship with the United States, and drug dealing, see Dinges 1990 and Kempe 1990.) According to Thomas A. Constantine, retired director of the DEA, the Clinton administration was more concerned about trade and other economic issues in its relationship with Mexico than with corruption and drug trafficking (Golden 1999).

   Andreas and his colleagues (1991–1992) noted that “after more than a decade of U.S. efforts to reduce the cocaine supply, more cocaine is produced in more places than ever before. Curiously, the U.S. response to failure has been to escalate rather than reevaluate…. The logic of escalation in the drug war is in fact strikingly similar to the arguments advanced when U.S. counterinsurgency strategies, undercut by ineffective and uncommitted governments and security forces, were failing in Vietnam: ‘We’ve just begun to fight.’ ‘We’re turning the corner.’” Therefore, because failure can easily justify further escalation, the question is asked “how do we know whether we are really turning the corner or simply running around in a vicious circle?” (107).

Demand Reduction by Criminal Prosecution for Fetal Liability

The prosecution of drug-using pregnant women for fetal endangerment, delivering drugs to a minor, or child abuse dates back to the end of the 1980s, when drug abuse was high in the political consciousness of elected officials and an increasing number of “drug babies” were being reported. It is estimated that about 350,000 infants annually are exposed prenatally to some form of illegal drug (Nolan 1990). Prosecution is sometimes used to coerce women into drug treatment, although drug treatment programs might not be readily available and those that are might be unwilling or unable to provide for pregnant clients.

Substance Abuse and Pregnancy

  • • Fifteen states consider substance abuse during pregnancy to be child abuse under civil child-welfare statutes, and three consider it grounds for civil commitment.
  • • Fourteen states require health care professionals to report suspected prenatal drug abuse, and four states require them to test for prenatal drug exposure if they suspect abuse.
  • • Nineteen states have either created or funded drug treatment programs specifically targeted to pregnant women, and nine provide pregnant women with priority access to state-funded drug treatment programs.
  • • Four states prohibit publicly funded drug treatment programs from discriminating against pregnant women.

Source: Guttmacher Institute.

   The first woman convicted for delivering a controlled substance to her fetus, in Florida in 1990, was sentenced to a year in a drug treatment residential program and fourteen years probation; her conviction was upheld by a state appeals court the following year but was later voided by the Florida Supreme Court (Lewin 19911992). In 1991, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a woman who took crack hours before giving birth could not be charged with delivering cocaine to her son through the umbilical cord. In response to the ruling, the Muskegon County prosecutor defended his decision to charge the woman: “This is a major health care crisis and we must use whatever means we can to reach a solution” (Wilkerson 1991, 13). Health care officials who supported the woman expressed fear that prosecuting drug-using pregnant women will drive them away from prenatal care. Courts have dismissed similar cases in Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida (Lewin 1991Nossiter 2008). In Alabama, however, women have been successfully prosecuted for using drugs while pregnant (Nossiter 2008Calhoun 2012).

   Despite considerable concern about the high rate of cocaine use among pregnant women, studies have failed to find a homogeneous pattern of fetal effects, and there is little consensus on the adverse effects of the drug (Finnegan et al. 1994). In a study of birth outcomes and developmental growth of children who were exposed to drugs in utero, infants varied in their birth outcomes, a majority evidencing no significant problems (Cosden, Peerson, and Elliott 1997). An overwhelming majority of women who use cocaine also ingest other drugs, including nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and opiates, and many suffer from sexual and physical abuse (Finnegan 1993). It is difficult to separate the effects of cocaine from other potential hazards to the fetus. “Women who use cocaine during pregnancy also engage in other behaviors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, that are risk factors for poor pregnancy outcome. In addition, they often live in circumstances that, in themselves, create an environment that fosters poor developmental outcome. To understand the unique or independent effects of cocaine exposure during pregnancy, it is critical to separate factors that correlate with prenatal cocaine use and with the outcome, both at birth and during the postpartum period” (Richardson and Day 1999, 234).

   Although we know that women who abuse heroin during pregnancy frequently give birth to infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome—the newborn suffers withdrawal symptoms—we do not know whether there are long-range effects that are directly attributable to the use of drugs; as with cocaine, it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the effects of drugs from those of poverty and poor prenatal care. Furthermore, the fetus can be endangered by any number of maternal behaviors that are not related to illegal drug use, for example, “too much or too little exercise, an inadequate or harmful diet, or use of cigarettes, alcohol [6,000 to 8,000 born annually with fetal alcohol syndrome], and other [lawful] drugs” (Nolan 1990, 13–14). Other risks include the general environment and specific workplace exposures.

   Research has revealed that infants (about 750,000 per year) who are exposed to a high level of cigarette smoke (one pack or more per day) in utero suffer from decreased birth weight, head circumference, and body length. Smokers also experience increased rates of spontaneous abortions and bleeding during pregnancy, and an estimated 5,600 infants die each year as a result of smoking by their pregnant mothers. A study in 1994 revealed that mothers who smoke as few as ten cigarettes a day cause their children under age five to test positive for cancer-causing compounds (Hilts 1994). A study of 4,400 youngsters ages six to sixteen by Kimberly Yoltan of the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center revealed that, after controlling for factors such as race, income, and parents’ educational levels, children exposed to high-levels of second-hand smoke have significantly lower test scores in reading, math, and problem-solving than those with the low-levels of exposure as determined by the presence of a nicotine byproduct (cotinine) in their blood (Szabo 2005).

   And what of the liability of the father who is using illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco? Research suggests that psychoactive substances are hazardous to spermatozoa (Finnegan 1993), and secondhand smoke has been proven to seriously harm the health of children. Furthermore, what of the societal responsibility to provide adequate prenatal care for all pregnant women? The nonmedical use of controlled substances is only one facet of a significantly greater social problem that will not be resolved by a simplistic recourse to criminal law.

   An equally pressing problem is the cost of providing for infants of drug-abusing mothers: Foster care for one child ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 a year. New York City has responded to this problem by permitting drug-abusing mothers to keep their children at home under the intensive supervision of a social worker (Treaster 1991). A study in Illinois found that although white and African American women show similar rates of illegal drug use during pregnancy, “black women are more likely to be reported to authorities” (Olen 1991, Sec. 3: 14). Illinois is one of a number of states where medical personnel are required to report suspected prenatal drug use to authorities. But there are few places in the state to care for babies born with drugs in their bloodstream, so the babies are usually sent home with their mother with some type of outpatient help and monitoring (Poe and Searcey 1996).

No Student Loans for Drug Offenders

U.S. Department of Education regulations, based on a law enacted in 1998, bar students who have been convicted of drug offenses from receiving federal college tuition aid. A first possession conviction bars aid for a year, and a sales conviction will bar aid for two years. Students who are convicted for a second time of possessing drugs will lose aid for two years; those who are convicted a third time lose it permanently. A student who has been convicted twice of selling drugs will lose aid permanently. Some students are able to retain eligibility by completing a drug rehabilitation program. Students must report any drug convictions on federal financial aid forms, including Pell grants and student loans. Students who lie will have to return any aid that they have received and may be prosecuted.

Source: McQueen 1999.

Demand Reduction Through Treatment and Supervision

There is a symbiosis between treatment and enforcement: Drug treatment “is demonstratively effective in reducing crime. Law enforcement helps ‘divert’ users into treatment and makes the treatment system work more efficiently by giving treatment providers needed leverage over the clients they serve. Treatment programs narrow the problem for law enforcement by shrinking the market for illegal drugs” (Office of National Drug Control Policy 2002b, 4). While the core of the U.S. response to drug use centers on enforcement, expanding the availability of treatment might be more productive for reducing demand. There is almost universal agreement that without reduced demand, antidrug efforts will remain ineffective.

   The cost-effectiveness of treatment versus law enforcement is emphasized by Rydell and Everingham (1994). They argue that $246 million would have to be spent on domestic law enforcement to achieve the same reduction in drug use that could be achieved by spending $34 million on treatment. And no assumption is made about the long-range effect of treatment— abstinence—on the individual abuser: “The cost advantage is so large that even if the after-treatment effect is ignored, treatment is still more cost-effective than law enforcement” (xv).

   It is the possession of controlled substances that constitutes a crime; an addict is not a criminal by virtue of his or her addiction. In Robinson v. California 370 U.S. 660 (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that individuals cannot be prosecuted for “being under the influence” or for “internal possession” of illegal drugs. In that same decision the Court upheld the civil commitment of drug addicts for purposes of treatment (similar to commitment of the mentally ill): “A state might determine that the general health and welfare require that the victims of these and other human afflictions might be dealt with by compulsory treatment, involving quarantine, confinement, or sequestration.”

   Some twenty-seven states have statutes permitting commitment of drug addicts (J. Kaplan 1983b). However, only California and New York made extensive use of such statutes; and in both states budgetary and political issues led to the programs being discontinued (New York in 1974) or eviscerated (California). B. Johnson and his colleagues (1986a1986b) argue in favor of mandatory treatment because almost all-objective evidence suggests that drug treatment has an important impact on the criminality of heroin and cocaine users. The cost of such a policy, they note, would be prohibitive unless treatment were on an outpatient basis, a method that they support. Because heroin and cocaine users frequently come into contact with the criminal justice system, all criminal defendants should be subjected to drug tests, which, if positive, should require mandatory treatment. This is the basis for the more than 2,600 drug courts discussed in Chapter 7: “Drug courts are premised on the idea that legal coercion to enter drug treatment is an effective means of achieving the benefits associated with treatment programs” and “stiff sanctions associated with noncompliance are used to coerce offenders to enter and remain in treatment” (Drug Courts 2012Hepburn and Harvey 2007, 257). Johnson and colleagues argue that drug treatment should be part of any sentence for convicted drug abusers and that postrelease treatment should be a condition of probation or parole supervision, with careful monitoring of urine for at least one year.

   This writer supervised heroin addicts on parole in New York for several years, and their careful monitoring by a parole officer does ensure a high rate of abstinence, at least during the period of supervision. But in any number of jurisdictions supervision in the community is superficial, with caseloads so large that clients cannot be monitored adequately. Offenders who violate the conditions of supervision by using drugs often go unnoticed or unpunished, remaining at liberty until they are arrested again for another drug offense (Abadinsky 2012). A program established in 2004 is a response to this reality. Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) seeks to deter drug use (as well as other violations) by probationers with frequent and random drug tests backed up by swift, certain, and short jail stays, usually a few days. A probationer can ask for a drug treatment program. This approach has received a great deal of positive coverage and has proven attractive to other jurisdictions and the National Institute of Justice.

Medical Marijuana

Insofar as there is any widespread interest in drug policy in the United States, the hottest topic concerns medical marijuana. As noted in Chapter 5, while marijuana has some use in medicine—for example, to relieve the pressure on the eyes of glaucoma patients, to control the nausea and vomiting that accompany cancer chemotherapy, and to control the muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis patients—its use remains illegal. Since 1982, however, there has been a legally available pharmaceutical for physicians in ophthalmology and cancer treatment: Marinol (dronabinol), which is 98.8 percent pure THC.

   There is some dispute as to whether or not oral THC is as effective as smoking marijuana. In 1989, an administrative law judge for the DEA recommended that marijuana be placed on a less restricted schedule, one that would make it available by medical prescription. The judge called marijuana “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” The DEA rejected the judge’s recommendation (“U.S. Resists Easing Curb on Marijuana” 1989). In 1999, a federally commissioned report by the Institute of Medicine stated that the active ingredient in marijuana is useful for treating pain, nausea, and the severe weight loss experienced by victims of AIDS. But because the smoke emitted by marijuana is even more toxic than tobacco smoke, the report recommended use of the drug only on a short-term basis, under close supervision, for patients who failed to respond to other therapies (Stolberg 1999).

   There is no consensus on the effectiveness of marijuana as a treatment for symptoms of pain, nausea, vomiting and other problems caused by illnesses or their treatment. The lack of medical consensus means that both proponents and opponents of medical marijuana laws “can find research support for their positions, and the medical community has not delivered a clear message to the public” (Cerdá et al 2012, 25).

   In 1996, voters approved Proposition 215 that removed criminal penalties for the “seriously ill” in California who possess or cultivate marijuana, and allows growers to cultivate the drug as long as he or she has been designated as a primary caregiver by the patient. By 2011, sixteen states and the District of Columbia had laws permitting medical use of marijuana. In Michigan, for example, patients whose doctors certify they need medical marijuana can grow up to twelve plants or designate a caregiver to grow it for them—anyone over 21 with no felony convictions can serve as a caregiver for up to five patients to whom they can sell marijuana. A 2003 legislative amendment to the California statute permits any resident to own up to half a pound of processed seed which could be purchased from a patient’s collective or cooperative. Local governments are permitted to have their own ordinances regulating marijuana, and scores have enacted outright bans (McKinley 2008). Proposition 215 has spawned a growth industry in marijuana for both legitimate medical purposes and apparent recreational use (Samuels 2008). There are an estimated 200,000 persons in California who use medical marijuana and David Freed (2012) states that because of Proposition 215’s imprecise language, “Virtually anybody can consult with one of hundreds of pro-pot physicians across California, claim an ailment, hand over $200, and be issued an annually renewable card that allows them to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes” (32). Time magazine columnist Joel Klein (2009) received a County of Los Angeles medical marijuana ID card “even though I am healthy” from a doctor after complaining of constant anxiety, insomnia, and headaches (64).

   The economics of cannabis in California is compelling: The amount of space needed to grow a tomato plant will produce between one-quarter to two pounds of marijuana that when wholesaled to a dispensary will bring about $2,000. Getting into the business is facilitated by “Oaksterdam University” in Oakland, a company that teaches people how to grow and sell marijuana (Kuchinskas 2009). In 2012, federal agents from the IRS and DEA raided Oaksterdam, but did not make any arrests.

   The federal government responded to the California referendum by threatening to punish doctors who advise patients that marijuana might ease some of their symptoms by revoking their DEA registration to prescribe controlled substances. Ten doctors and six patients brought a class-action lawsuit challenging that policy, and in 2002 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the federal policy violated both the free speech of doctors and the principles of federalism. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a government appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision. Seven of the nine states in that circuit have laws permitting medical use of marijuana that nevertheless is illegal under federal law. In 2005, the Supreme Court (Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1) upheld an appeals court decision (Gonzales v. Raich 352 F.3d 1222) that affirmed the power of the federal government to enforce federal prohibitions against possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes even in the states that permit its use.

   In 2003, five jurors in a federal trial in California that convicted a medicinal marijuana advocate issued a public apology to him and demanded that the judge grant him a new trial. The jurors said that they had been unaware that the defendant, Ed Rosenthal, was growing marijuana for medical purposes when they convicted him on three federal counts of cultivation and conspiracy. The reason for Rosenthal’s marijuana cultivation was ruled inadmissible at trial (Murphy 2003). Although the government sought a twoyear sentence, the judge sentenced him to only one day. The government appealed the sentence and in 2006 the conviction was overturned for “juror misconduct.”

   In 2006, in a controversial statement, the FDA denied that any medical benefits result from the use of marijuana. The FDA statement was criticized for being more ideological than scientific; it did not provide any research data and ignored a report by the prestigious National Academy of Science (Joy, Watson, and Benson 1999) that the substance does provide some benefits to certain patients suffering from AIDS and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting (Zernike 2006b). An editorial in the New York Times (“Politics of Pot” 2006, 14) argued that the “Food and Drug Administration, for no compelling reason, unexpectedly issued a brief, poorly documented statement disputing the therapeutic value of marijuana.” In response Henry Miller, a physician and former head of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology, wrote in support of the FDA statement: marijuana smoking cannot be subjected to clinical trials because it does not come in standardized doses and therefore cannot meet the accepted standards for purity, potency, and quality (H. Miller 2006). Permission to conduct clinical trials has been denied by the DEA (Harris 2010).

   In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the enforcement policy of the Department of Justice would be restricted to those marijuana traffickers falsely masquerading as medical dispensers. People who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it to them no longer face federal prosecution if they act in accordance with state law: “It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal”.

   Research into the question of whether or not approval of medical marijuana results in increases in recreational use has had mixed results and is inconclusive (Cerdá et al. 2012). Research indicates that states that legalized marijuana use for medical purposes have significantly higher rates of marijuana use, but correlation does not prove a causal affect.

Measuring the Results of Policy Changes

A major problem with instituting any changes in policy is measurement of results. Increases or decreases in the number of people using illegal substances cannot be measured with any accuracy, and the statistics that are often presented as “data” are usually meaningless. As noted in Chapter 1, there are no direct measures of the incidence or prevalence of drug use in the general population–estimates are inferences derived from various data sources.

   Biernacki (1986) points out that “it cannot be determined with any degree of certainty what effect U.S. drug policy has had on the addict population. What we do know is that the indicators used to estimate the size of the addict population at any one time are unreliable. For example, if the number of hospital emergency room admissions for heroin overdoses drops, does this indicate the effectiveness of police control methods, or the successful treatment of addicts? Or can the drop in admissions be attributed to a change in drug preference? Or to an increase in the number of natural recoveries?” (189). Natural recovery, or the abandoning of heroin use, was discovered among returning Vietnam veterans on a relatively large scale (Robins 19731974Robins, Helzer, Hesselbrock, and Wish 1980). To the extent to which we have been able to measure the effect of U.S. drug policy, the results, though not necessarily the claims, have been unclear. The question remains: Should we be punishing people “simply because we are unable to demonstrate the benefits of not punishing them”? (Husak and de Marneffe 2005, 26).

   Now that we have examined drug policy in the United States, the next chapter will examine additional alternatives that have been adopted by European countries.

Chapter Summary

  • 1. Know the two basic models for responding to drug use: disease model and moral-legal model:
    • • The official response to a particular substance—regulation or law enforcement—determines the manner in which the user of that substance will be treated.
    • • Our response to easily abused substances is not based on the degree of danger inherent in their use.
    • • Some drug abusers are subjected to incarceration; others have postage stamps in their honor.
  • 2. Know the U.S. policy of supply reduction through law enforcement and source country eradication:
    • • Enforcement success may simply eliminate the less-organized criminal distributors, resulting in an increase in the profits of criminal organizations that are strong enough and ruthless enough to survive.
    • • There is a variety of statistics indicating that the “war on drugs” is often a “war” on blacks.
    • • A policy of incarceration for only the most serious criminal offenders is not feasible.
    • • Increasing penalties for drug trafficking is unrealistic because sentences for trafficking are already high and there is a lack of evidence indicating that it reduces the supply of drugs.
    • • Crack was a response to an oversupply of cocaine.
    • • Reducing the market for illegal drugs can have an unpleasant outcome: competition will increase among dealers, perhaps violently; selling drugs is a primary source of earnings for many poor adult males who may turn to other forms of crime.
    • • Attempting to control drugs at their source has had unintended consequences: displacement and human rights violations.
  • 3. Know that U.S. efforts against drug trafficking are often secondary to foreign policy considerations:
    • • Drug legislation, such as the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, has numerous loopholes.
    • • The U.S. government may ignore or downplay drug or human rights violations of economic allies.
  • 4. Know the practical and ethical issues surrounding the criminalized nonmedical use of drugs during pregnancy:
  • 5. Understand the reasoning and effectiveness of statutes authorizing compulsory drug treatment:
    • • Outpatient compulsory treatment for drug users has proven cost effective.
  • 6. Know why medical marijuana has become a major issue:
    • • At least sixteen states and the District of Columbia have laws permitting medical use of marijuana.
    • • However, marijuana possession remains a federal crime.
  • 7. Understand how the measurement of results is a major problem with instituting any changes in policy:
    • • The number of drug users cannot be measured accurately.
    • • Changes in drug use cannot be fully understood as to whether they are affected by drug policy or nonpolicy factors such as popularity trends, availability, and the like.

Review Questions

  • 1. How does the disease model differ from the morallegal model?
  • 2. What are the contradictions between scientific knowledge and U.S. drug policy?
  • 3. How does the official reaction to a substance determine how the user will be labeled?
  • 4. What are some unintended consequences of successful drug law enforcement?
  • 5. How does the iron law of capitalism work against effective drug law enforcement?
  • 6. Why does the “war on drugs” appear racist?
  • 7. Why is a policy of incarceration for only the most serious criminal offenders not feasible?
  • 8. Why is an increase in penalties for drug trafficking unrealistic?
  • 9. What are the potential adverse reactions to reducing the market for drugs?
  • 10. What was the connection between the oversupply of cocaine and crack?
  • 11. What are the problems of attempting to reduce the supply of drugs at their source?
  • 12. What are the practical and ethical issues raised by the prosecution of pregnant women who use illegal drugs?
  • 13. What have been the results of coercive treatment of drug addicts?
  • 14. What is the controversy that surrounds medical marijuana?
  • 15. Why is it difficult to measure the effects drug use vis-à-vis changes in drug policy?

What is the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism?

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