Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

Department of Justice, Law and Society
School of Public Affairs
The American University

Fall 1997
Mondays, 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Ward 221A

Faculty: Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler
Office: Ward 216
Telephone: (301) 585-5664 in Silver Spring, Md.
Office hours: (by appointment)

Course Description

We may approach the issue of drug control in a free society from at least three perspectives. For example, drug warriors focus on strict enforcement of prohibition and regulation of currently illegal drugs, as well as the expansion of sanctions to include tobacco and alcohol. They believe that drugs cause addiction and crime. From this perspective, public policies should be directed at limiting supply.

A second perspective is advanced by those advocating drug policy reform through legalization, decriminalization and medicalization. They consider criminal sanctions inhumane and cost-ineffective. They advance public policy proposals based on the idea that addiction is a disease and that drug users are sick people. Treatment should replace punishment for drug use. As Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke declared years ago: "The war on drugs should be led by the Surgeon General, not the Attorney General." Today, their slogan is "harm reduction." They strongly support (if not directly fund) "medical marijuana" laws, such as those passed recently in California and Arizona. Ironically, prohibitionists and legalizers both believe in the medical model of addiction.

Classical liberal (libertarian) perspectives, such as those advanced by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and economist Milton Friedman, are focused on the idea that drug use is a behavior (as opposed to a disease), based in personal values. Thus, drug use is an ethical issue, not a medical one. Neither drugs nor addiction cause crime. Classical liberals argue that drugs are property and our right to drugs as property is guaranteed by the Constitution. They believe a free-market approach to currently illegal drugs will reduce crime and the lawlessness caused by prohibition. Valuing liberty over health, they criticize public-health and harm-reduction approaches as paternalistic and statist.

Further complicating the issues here is the abundance of scientific evidence supporting the idea drug use is more a function of mental set and environment rather than chemistry and physiology. Most people believe people who use drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol regularly have lost the ability to control use. This notion of "loss of control" (which stemmed from the alcohol temperance movement) is an integral part of prohibitionist and public-health policies.

In this advanced course, we examine all three perspectives described above. Particular emphasis will be placed on the difference between public-health and classical liberal approaches to drug policy and control. We will explore the substantial scientific evidence contesting the notion that addiction is a treatable disease. The implications of that research for public policy will also be addressed. Lecture and discussion format.

Course Objectives

  1. To improve the student's legal and policy-oriented thinking about drug control in a free society.
  2. To comprehend the ideological, economic, and political investments integral to perspectives on illegal drug use, the "medical marijuana movement," and repeal of drug prohibition.
  3. To investigate the ways in which drug users are defined as dangerous to themselves and others.
  4. To understand diverse meanings of addiction and their relation to social policy.
  5. To evaluate the effectiveness and constitutionality of drug-use prevention and treatment programs.
  6. To develop skill in debating important public policy issues related to drug prohibition and repeal.

Required Texts
Alexander, B.K. (1990). Peaceful measures: Canada's way out of the 'war on drugs.' Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Bakalar, J.B. and Grinspoon, L. (1984). Drug control in a free society. N.Y.: Cambridge University Press
Lender, M.E. (1995). A new Prohibition? An essay on drinking and smoking in America. Louisville, KY.: Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation (This booklet will be distributed to you in class free of charge.)
Szasz, T. (1992). Our right to drugs: The case for a free market. New York: Praeger.

Course Requirements and Grades
First Position Paper                    20%
Mid-term examination                    30%
Second Position Paper                   10%
Debate                                  10%
Final examination                               30%
                                   Total = 100%

Description of course requirements:

First position paper: Write a 10-page paper supporting drug prohibition. Your paper must not be longer than 10 pages. Disagree with all arguments supporting drug legalization and reform measures focused on decreasing prohibition. Show how drugs and drug use cause addiction and crime. Argue how the state has a legitimate and compelling interest in protecting people from themselves as well as from others. Use at least five references, which are to be listed separately on the eleventh page. Use the reference format presented in the required readings section of this syllabus. You may not quote more than two lines of other material. If you quote more than two lines your grade on the paper will automatically drop by one letter grade. Paraphrase material in your own words. Cite any author you are referring to this way (Schaler, 1997). Do not list any material in the reference section that is not cited in the text of your paper. The paper must be double-spaced, typewritten with font size no larger than 12 points, margins no larger than 1 inch. Your spelling must be accurate. You must use complete sentences and proper paragraphs. Your paper should be organized with an introduction, review of issues, discussion and conclusion.

Mid-term examination: The mid-term examination will consist of essay questions focused on all readings and discussion in class.

Second position paper: The second position paper is a formal written statement of your debate presentation. The paper must be presented in the same format as the first paper, however, the focus of this paper is on the argument you defend in the debate.

Debate: A debate topic will be assigned by Dr. Schaler. Participation in the debate is mandatory. You will be assigned a position to defend in the debate. You are to present a summary statement of the ideas you developed in your second position paper. You must not read your second position paper as your debate presentation. First you will deliver a formal debate statement. After everyone has done so, you are expected to argue and debate the topic. The length of the formal oral statement will be determined by the professor based on the number of students in the class. You will be given ample time to meet with your team during several classes before the debate in order to plan your presentation accordingly.

Final examination: The final examination will consist of essay questions focused on all of the material covered in this course. You will be given the opportunity to express your own point of view on the many controversial issues we addressed.

Class Schedule
Date                            Topic                                           Reading
September 8                     Questions of risk and liberty           Bakalar amp;
                                The meanings of addiction
                                and dependence                          1-98
                                The historical direction of
                                drug policy
September 15            Varieties of drug control               Bakalar amp;
                                Solution or dissolution of the
                                drug problem?                           99-153
                                Drugs as Property:
                                The Right We Rejected                   Szasz, xiii -
                                The American Ambivalence:
                                Liberty vs. Utopia                      31-58
September 22            The Fear We Favor:
                                Drugs as Scapegoats                     59-76
                                Drug Education:
                                The Cult of Drug Disinformation 77-94
                                The Debate on Drugs:
                                The Lie of Legalization                 95-110
                                Blacks and Drugs:  Crack as             111-124
September 29            First position paper due
                                Doctors and Drugs:
                                The Perils of Prohibition               Szasz, 125-144
                                Between Dread amp; Desire:
                                The Burden of Choice                    145-end
October 6                       The New Prohibition                     Lender
October 13                      Mid-term examination-
                                5:30 PM to 6:45 PM,
                                lecture begins at  7:00 PM
October 20                      Peaceful Measures:                      Alexander
October 27                      Peaceful Measures:                      Alexander
November 3                      Peaceful Measures:                      Alexander       
November 10                     Peaceful Measures:                      Alexander
November 17                     Debates - Second position paper due
November 24                     Debates
December 1                      Drugs and Crime
December 8                      Contemporary issues
December 15                     Final examination,
                                5:30 PM to 8:00 PM                      Cumulative

Debate topic: (to be assigned)

Pro Con

Team #: Team members:

* Clear and accurate writing will be taken into account in assigning grades, as well as participation in class discussions. Material discussed in class, or in films, and not in any of the readings, may form the basis for questions on the examinations. One grade reduction for over three class absences. Students are responsible for anything covered in class during their absence. Readings must be completed by the session to which they are assigned. All written assignments must be turned in on time. Additional readings may be assigned during the course. Students are encouraged to form study groups on their own. Grades: A-=90, B+=89, B- =80, C+=79, C-=70

Arguments Supporting Drug Prohibition
(Some of these articles may help you in your First Position Paper.)
Bennett, W. (1990, March). Should drugs be legalized? Readers Digest. 90-94.
Biden, J.R. (1990, April 3). Just say 'no!' to proposal to make drug use legal. The Philadelphia Tribune, A18.
Clinton, W.J. (1996). Transmittal letter to Congress. Office of National Drug Control Policy. The National Drug Control Strategy: 1996, 11- 37.
DuPont, R.L. and Goldfarb R.L. (1990, January 26). Drug Legalization: Asking for trouble. The Washington Post, A23.
Gates, D.F. (1990, March 15). Some among us would seek to surrender. The Los Angeles Times.
Gold, M. (1984). 800-Cocaine. New York: Bantam Books.
Gold, M.S., Washton, A.M. and Dackis, C.A. (1985). Cocaine abuse: Neurochemistry, phenomenology and treatment. In N.J. Kozel and E.H. Adams (Eds). Cocaine Use in America: Epidemiologic and Clinical Perspectives. (Research Monograph No. 61, pp. 8-34). Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Kaplan, J. (1988). Taking drugs seriously. The Public Interest, 92, 32- 50.
Kidder, R.M. (1990, March 12). Legalizing drugs would sidestep the moral issue. The Christian Science Monitor, 12.
Kondracke, M.M. (1988). Don't legalize drugs. The New Republic, 198, (26), 16-19.
Krauthammer, C. (1990, April 13). Mistakes of the legalizers . . . The Washington Post, A25.
McQueen, M. and Schribman, D. (1989, Sept. 22). Personal war: Battle against drugs is chief issue facing nation Americans say. The Wall Street Journal, A1.
Mosher, J.F., and Yanagisako, K.L. (1991). Public health, not social warfare: A public health approach to illegal drug policy. Journal of Public Health Policy, 12, 278-323.
Rangel, C.B. (1988, June 11). Legalizing drugs: A 'dangerous idea.' The Washington Post, Free For All.
Reuter, P. and Caulkins, J.P. (1995). Redefining the goals of national drug policy: Recommendations from a working group. American Journal of Public Health, 85(8), 1059-1063.
Schrage, M. (1990, March 2). Drug abuse a disease? Then let's develop an inoculation against it. The Washington Post, E3.
Single, E. (1989). The impact of marijuana decriminalization: An update. Journal of Public Health Policy, 5, 238-256.
Sutton, M. and Maynard, A. (1993). Are drug policies based on 'fake' statistics. Addiction, 88, 455-458.
Will, G.F. (1989, December 24). Legalize drugs? What rubbish. The Washington Post, C7.
Wilson, J.Q. (1990, February). Against the legalization of drugs. Commentary, 89, (2), 21-28.
Wish, E.D. (1991). U.S. drug policy in the 1990's: Insights from new data from arrestees. International Journal of the Addictions, 25, 377-409.

Academic Integrity Code

"Standards of academic conduct are set forth in the University's Academic Integrity Code. It is expected that all examinations, tests, written papers, and other assignments will be completed according to the standards set forth in this code. By registering, you have acknowledged your awareness of the Academic Integrity Code, and you are obliged to become familiar with your rights and responsibilities as defined by the Code. Violations of the Academic Integrity Code will not be treated lightly, and disci-plinary action will be taken should such violations occur. Please see me if you have any questions about the academic violations described in the Code in general or as they relate to particular requirements for this course."