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The Quest for Drug Control

The Quest for Drug Control: Politics and Federal Policy in a Period of Increasing Substance Abuse, 1963–1981

David F. Musto
Pamela Korsmeyer
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 338
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  • Book Info
    The Quest for Drug Control
    Book Description:

    Between 1960 and 1980 various administrations attempted to deal with a rising tide of illicit drug use that was unprecedented in U.S. history. This valuable book provides a close look at the politics and bureaucracy of drug control policy during those years, showing how they changed during the presidencies of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter and how much current federal drug-control policies owe to those earlier efforts.David F. Musto, M.D., and Pamela Korsmeyer base their analysis on a unique collection of 5,000 pages of White House documents from the period, all of which are included on a searchable CD-ROM that accompanies the book. These documents reveal the intense debates that took place over drug policy. They show, for example, that staffers and cabinet officers who were charged with narcotics policy were often influenced by the cultural currents of their times, and when the public reacted in an extreme fashion to rising drug use, officials were disinclined to adopt modified policies that might have been more realistic. Musto and Korsmeyer's investigation into the decision-making processes that shaped past drug control efforts in the United States provides essential background as creative approaches to the drug problem are sought for the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13784-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    The history of drug use in the United States between the early 1960s and 1980 is a tangled narrative of this country’s attempts to deal with a rising tide of illicit substances that washed over social boundaries and ultimately overwhelmed determined attempts to dry it up or even simply to contain its destructive force. This is a story of bitter conflicts involving competing interpretations of criminal law and our traditional civil liberties as well as the role and efficacy of medicine and public health where questions of behavior and personal choice are concerned. As is true of most difficult public...

  6. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. Chapter 1 The Johnson Administration: Drug Abuse as a Policy Issue
    (pp. 1-37)

    Between 1920 and the early 1960s, illicit drug use in the United States declined significantly from the levels it had reached early in the century, although few appreciated it at the time. Americans had feared psychoactive drugs for a long time—opiates and cocaine in the early part of the century, then nearly exclusively heroin, especially after World War II—and that fear persisted even though, by the 1950s, use was minuscule compared both to the historical high point and to the surge in substance abuse that lay in the future. Still, the drugs were a minor problem, dealt with...

  8. Chapter 2 The First Nixon Administration: Early Approaches to Drug Policy
    (pp. 38-71)

    In January 1969, when Richard M. Nixon took office as president of the United States, drug use among Americans had been increasing for a decade. That year, according to survey data reported by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, 5.14. percent of college students reported having tried heroin at some time in their lives, up from 3.2 percent the previous year. Among high school students, the figure was 3.3 percent, compared to 0.4 percent in 1967.¹ In New York City (recognized by most sources as having by far the most opiate users in the country), deaths from drug...

  9. Chapter 3 The First Nixon Administration: Treatment and Rehabilitation
    (pp. 72-105)

    The third element of narcotics control policy developed during Richard Nixon’s presidency addressed the problem of how to reduce demand for illicit mood-altering substances through treatment and rehabilitation of actual consumers and dissuasion of potential ones. By the spring of 1970, White House planners had come to view treatment and rehabilitation as integral parts of narcotics control policy, which itself was part of the campaign against crime. But this phase of the effort had to wait to receive the full attention of the policy staff until after drug law enforcement authority had been firmly established in the Justice Department through...

  10. Chapter 4 The Second Nixon Administration: Drug Abuse Control
    (pp. 106-139)

    The overriding concern of the Nixon organization during 1972 was the fall election. Reports of a burglary at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate building, in Washington, D.C., which began to appear on 18 June and which involved some people associated with the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP), had no apparent effect on political or programmatic plans related to the narcotics problem. The “Watergate caper,” as H.R. Haldeman refers in his diaries to the affair that led to the president’s resignation, was to remain a background issue through the November election in spite of indictments...

  11. Chapter 5 The Ford Administration: The White Paper on Drug Abuse
    (pp. 140-184)

    The repercussions of President Richard Nixon’s resignation for the direction of drug policy were profound. The change in national leadership itself interacted with evolving changes in the social climate to create a new, and newly complex, political environment. The first of these new circumstances was a natural aversion among President Gerald Ford’s advisors to Nixon-era initiatives. The second was the belief among those concerned with the issue that drug policy had to be reevaluated. Social mores seemed ever more tolerant of all drugs, and scientific opinion, in concert with this widespread unwillingness to condemn drug use out of hand, supported...

  12. Chapter 6 The Carter Administration: The End of Accommodation
    (pp. 185-242)

    When Jimmy Carter entered the White House in January 1977, he was met with an energy crisis, increasing inflation, and a federal budget he considered too large. To emphasize the determination he had expressed in his campaign to streamline the government, he cultivated an image of parsimony and simplicity, ostentatiously slinging his carry-on bag over his shoulder when he traveled and cutting White House perks—much to his staff’s discomfort. Because social and political circumstances had changed significantly since drug abuse had emerged as a major public concern more than a decade earlier, drug policy development and implementation during the...

  13. Appendix: Summary of Drug Control Policy, 1958–1974
    (pp. 243-256)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 257-304)
  15. Index
    (pp. 305-312)