Drug Prohibition Recommended Reading
- Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do
Peter McWilliams died in defense of freedom: this book, an incredibly well-written and well-researched book about “the absurdity of consensual crimes in a free society” was probably his death warrant.
- Altered States of Awareness
This is not just a book about drugs. Other “altered states” discussed are boredom and sleep. This was published back when the “Drug Enforcement Agency” was called the “Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs”. It includes a good overview of the marijuana situation of the time, by Lester Grinspoon, and an overview of the hallucinogens of the time: mescaline, mushrooms, and LSD. Mostly of historical interest.
- Ceremonial Chemistry
Subtitled “The ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.” Throughout modern history, we have treated drugs as if they were living creatures; we have chosen our culture’s recreational drugs and thrown all else into the outer darkness. What about us, or about drugs, results in such insane acts? Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz analyzes our culture and the history of drug prohibitions and shows us the dangers in our ever-present addiction to scapegoats. This is a spot-on critique of mankind’s desire for a scapegoat, and the length that we’ll go to create one.
- Cocaine: A Drug and Its Social Evolution
A fascinating book that looks at, not just the medical properties of coca and cocaine, but at the social evolution of the drug’s use, with a focus on use in the United States and in South America. Anyone interested in peeking through the myth of cocaine should have this book on their shelves--with the understanding that even the latest version (1985) misses the interesting features of our more recent anti-cocaine frenzies.
- The Crisis in Drug Prohibition
This is a collection of essays by the great political and economic thinkers of our time. The crisis in question is the way that America is torn between freedom, free trade, and free speech on the one hand, and the increasingly totalitarian laws and policies towards drug use on the other. It includes some fine articles comparing current prohibition with alcohol prohibition in the twenties, including a resurrection of Franklin Adams’ “Prohibition is an awful flop.”
- From Chocolate to Morphine
The subtitle is “Everything you need to know about mind-altering drugs.” Philosophically this is true: everything you need to know is that you should understand what you are using. This book is not an in-depth discussion of drugs, however; it is a general guide to recreational drug use, effects, and warnings. The book is designed for teen-agers, and should be in the home of every parent and teacher. “Education based on truthful information is the only solution to the drug problem.”
- In Touch
A fascinating book about John Steinbeck IV’s stint in Vietnam and his observations of marijuana use there among American soldiers. This book can be very hard to find, but I recommend looking for it.
- Licit & Illicit Drugs On-line
The full title is “The Consumers Union Report on Narcotics, Stimulants, Depressants, Inhalants, Hallucinogens, and Marijuana--including Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol”. Published by Consumer Reports back in the early seventies in an attempt to head off the growing drug hysteria, Licit & Illicit Drugs discusses the effects of drug laws, drug policies, and drug attitudes with the same depth and even handedness they apply to other consumer products. Long out of print, if you can find a copy it will be well worth it. Thanks to Cliff Schaffer for putting it online!
- Marihuana, The First Twelve Thousand Years
This is the most in-depth look at the history of marijuana use throughout the world. It is a highly recommended read if you are interested in the pattern of drug prohibition with regards to cannabis. On the other hand, I cannot recommend this book at $80 unless you absolutely cannot find it in your library.
- On Liberty and Drugs
These essays by economist Milton Friedman, and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz were almost all originally published elsewhere: The Wall Street Journal, Psychiatric Opinion, The Lancet, and a couple of interviews. If you are interested in reasoned economic and humanitarian reasons to end prohibition, this book is highly recommended.
- Our Right to Drugs
Where Ceremonial Chemistry talks mostly of the folly of prohibition, Our Right to Drugs focuses on the hope of freedom. Ending prohibition returns property rights; it returns self-control, and it returns independence. “It is this longing for a holy utopia that leads to the fateful obliteration of the distinction between vice and crime, and the tragic transformation of the virtue of temperance into the vice of prohibition.”
- A Primer of Drug Action
This is the most technical layman’s guide to drug effects that you’ll find. It focuses on recreational drugs, and includes birth control and fertility drugs in that classification. The appendices cover brain workings, the nervous system, and general drug transport issues. This is a fine companion to the more general and easier to read Chocolate to Morphine. This is the 9th edition, published in 2001.