10 Social Policy and the Drugtaker
Trends in British Legislation
The Wootton Report'1 published in 1968 advised that the maximum penalties for possession and sale of cannabis should be reduced. Possession of a small amount of marihuana should not be considered an appropriate ground for imprisonment, except in exceptional circumstances. Possession with intent to sell should be dealt with as an indictable offence and carry a maximum five-year jail sentence (compared with ten years previously).2 Marihuana should no longer be grouped in the same legislative category as heroin and the opiates. The police power to arrest and search anyone suspected of carrying dangerous drugs needed to be re-examined. The Committee were worried that such procedures were detrimental to the relationship between public and police. Indeed, one of the members of the committee, Michael Schofield wrote:
In my opinion the powers of search are already too wide. Section 6 of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1967 gives the police power to stop and search without warrant any person reasonably suspected of being in unlawful possession of drugs. The dangers in these new powers are immense, for there is only the subjective word 'reasonably' to prevent the over-zealous from stopping and searching anyone for anything, anywhere. Young people especially are already being subjected to indiscriminate searches where no grounds for reasonable suspicion exist. Parliament has been led to assume that the purpose of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1967 was to deal with drugs such as heroin, but large-scale searches for cannabis are now made under Section 6 of this act. This section was put in as a late amendment and accepted by an unwatchful House of Commons almost without discussion. It should be repealed.'2
* Two of the committee members had reservations. P. E. Brodie thought the indictable sentence too low and'suggested five-years and/or an unlimited fine and Michael Schofield thought the recommendation too severe, suggesting that illicit possession of less than thirty grammes of cannabis should be a summary offence punishable by a maximum fine of £50, with no possibility of imprisonment; summary conviction with more than thirty grammes for a fine exceeding £ too and/or imprisonment for four months, and indictment reduced to a fine and/or imprisonment not exceeding two years. All of the committee, including Brodie and Schofield, wanted a reduction in penalties.
The reaction to the Wootton Report was immediate, destructive and totally misinformed. A few extracts from the newspapers will convey the extent of alacrity and prejudice resorted to:
DANGERS IN THIS CONSPIRACY Of the DRUGGED (George Gale, Daily Mirror, 28 November 1968).
For society to adopt a more permissive attitude towards pot smoking is in fact to open the gates of servitude to countless thousands (Daily Express editorial, 8 January 1969).
PSYCHIATRIST SAYS: IT'S A JUNKIES' CHARTER (Evening News, 8 January 1969).
Lady Wootton's Committee have a lot to answer for NOW THE DRUGS FLOOD IN (News of the World, 12 January 1969).
RUSSIAN ROULETTE - WITH A FULLY-LOADED REVOLVER WE MUST FIGHT DRUGS LOBBY (Daily Express, 13 January 1969).
If there has been pressure it has come from the legalize pot lobBy. . The best thing to do with this report is to dump it in the wastepaper basket (Daily Sketch, 8 January 1969).
The model which the mass media used to analyse the Report was in a classic absolutist mould: a permissive and powerful minority had pressurized a misguided committee into an unwise decision. A motley collection of experts were interviewed and quoted as opposing the report; dubious figures about escalation, derived from numerous and inapplicable social situations, were generalized to Britain as a whole, and worse, to a Britain where hashish was freely available. Correlation does not, as any first-year sociology student well knows, mean causation. That correlation between the rise of marihuana smoking and heroin addiction might be the result of complicated relationships directly affected by the illegal status of marihuana was largely ignored. The campaign against the 'softening' of the drug laws was immensely successful. The Home Secretary, James Callaghan, speaking in a debate on the Wootton Report in the Commons, took up the model of interpretation which the media had disseminated:
The House should recognize that the lobby existed [in favour of legalizing cannabis] and from his reading of the report he thought the committee was overinfluenced by the existence of the lobby. [Cheers] The existence of the lobby was something the House and public opinion should take into account, and be ready to combat, as he was. It was another aspect of the permissive society and he was glad that his decision had enabled the House to call a halt to the advancing time of permissiveness.'3
The Shadow Home Secretary concurred on this, stating that the effects of hashish were well known; they were associated with crime, abnormality, poverty and misery all over the world. A few months later he wrote in the Sunday Express:4 The real vice of the advocates of permissiveness in society, particularly those in the academic world, is their intellectual arrogance; they refuse to acknowledge the value of experience in assessing the dangers of human weakness and folly.' The Report was rejected and the combined medical, psychological, police and judicial experience of the committee ignored out of hand. It did not fit the facts as the politicians and the popular press saw them. It was hardly surprising that Lady Wootton, harassed and insulted as she had been, should note later in the House of Lords that: 'The causes of the [hysteria] are familiar to students of social psychology. They occur in other connections as well, par-. ticularly in relation to sexual crimes, and they are always liable to recur when the public senses that some critical and objective study threatens to block an outlet for indulgence in the pleasures of moral indignation.'5
In April 1969 the Release Report was published. It was an analysis of the work done by the underground organization of that name in aiding young people who were being prosecuted for drug offences. It contained allegations of police planting evidence and other malpractices. Michael Schofield contributed an Afterword to the Report. He was dismayed at the unofficial actions which the experienced criminal can counter but which confuse and depress the young drug offender to the extent that he really does not get the justice he deserves. The police station where the messages never get through and the telephone is never free. The policeman who obstructs the search for sureties even after the magistrate has granted bail. The untrue promises of 'We'll see you off lightly if you tell us what we want to know.' The one nice and one nasty interrogator, such a common trick that I think it must be part of a policeman's training.
Of course it is to be expected that the police are anxious to make the charge stick once they have taken a man in. But it is an attitude that can be taken too far, especially when it is used to defend rough justice such as — 'Well, maybe he hasn't actually got a drug on him this time, but we know he's an addict."6
Schofield was referring to police practices which evidence from Release and my own research corroborate, and which any professional criminologist or practising lawyer in this field would find unremarkable, if unpalatable. The immediate reaction, however, was that he was asked to resign both by the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Hallucinogens, which had produced the Wootton Report, within which he had played such an important role. Schofield, who had also been a signatory to the famous advertisement in The Times7 calling for a radical change in the marihuana laws, obviously fitted the 'pro-pot lobby' model and was regarded as a dangerous influence on the Advisory Committee. Fortunately, after exclusion from at least two meetings he was once again allowed to participate in the Committee's work.'8 This case well illustrates how political parameters delimit the possible universe of discourse for what purport to be open-ended scientific debates. The possible legalization of marihuana, the innocuousness of its effects, and criticism of unofficial police practices, are three areas which are only to be entered into with caution and in which diffident and ambiguous pronouncements are mandatory, preferably hedged in with a call for the need for further research and a note on the dangers of relaxing control.
The Misuse of Drugs Bill introduced to the Commons in March 1970 was the direct expression of the absolutist model which dominates the thinking of British politicians on drugs. It was the final dismissal of the Wootton Report's recommendations. It is useful to tie the various items of this model to their manifestation in the legislation controlling marihuana use. The pusher is seen as the corruptor of the innocent youth, and in this light the maximum sentence is increased to an unlimited fine and/or a fourteen-year jail sentence. (The Wootton Report would have reduced the maximum gaol sentence to two years.) For the first time a sharp legal distinction is made between possession for use and possession for sale. The user, seen as a misled victim, is treated more lightly. Thus the maximum jail sentence is reduced from a year to six months, although the maximum fine is raised from £250 to £400. (The Wootton Report would have reduced the maximum fine to Doc), and the jail sentence — only to be used in exceptional circumstances — to four months.) By this means, possession is by no means seen as a mere 'technical offence', permissiveness is avoided, and the 'pro-pot lobby' strongly opposed. Marihuana is, however, removed from the same legal category as heroin, although by some curious logic LSD is now included with the opiates! The powers of search and arrest remain unchanged. (The Wootton Report's uncertainties about police powers are thus completely ignored.)
The press reaction to the Bill was summed up by the Daily Mirror editorial:
DRUGS: THE REAL CRIMINALS
The drug pusher — the contemptible creature who peddles poison for profit — deserves no mercy from the law. The criminal who sets out to hook young people on drugs deserves far more implacable retribution than the victims of the evil. Home Secretary Jim Callaghan recognizes this in his new Misuse of Drugs Bill . . .
Some penalties for possession of drugs will go down. Others will be increased. Possession will still remain a serious offence.
But the thinking behind this Bill will command approval from everyone who has given serious thought to the drug menace.
There is no permissiveness about it. There IS understanding and justice.
Mr Callaghan has stood firm against all the pressures to legalize use of the so-called 'soft' drugs.
He has refused to ease the law against drugtaking in any form.
The argument that 'soft' drugs can lead on to the killing 'hard' drugs has been given full weight — and parents as well as medical experts on_addiction will applaud this realism.
It is tough legislation.
It can be effective legislation because it sharpens the vital distinction between the trafficker and his victim.
This is a valid twentieth-century diagnosis for an agoniting twentieth-century problem. 9
Stirring rhetoric; the absolutist case defended in .a nu- tshell; but it has little if anything to do with the empirical reality of drug use in Britain, and its effects are likely to be unfortunate in the extreme.10
Possible Future Trends
If the use of marihuana continues to increase at the present rate it is likely that courts, if not the law, will come increasingly to regard possession as a mere technical offence and impose only small inconsequential fines. Its most active aficionados are middle-class youth, and courts have always been most reluctant to stigmatize their more privileged children. Moreover, it is well on the way to becoming a trendy, if rather shady, indulgence of people in the liberal professions. How will this affect the hippies in bohemian areas such as Notting Hill? If my thesis is correct, their position will only be marginally ameliorated. For it is not drugs per se, but hedonistic cultures which society reacts against. Marihuana has been a perfect weapon, suspicion of use justifying harassment and arrest, and signifying disturbed personalities. But the deviancy amplification of hippies is only historically tied to marihuana use. Reaction would still proceed even if the drug was legalized overnight.
In the meantime, the hippie is more likely to be apprehended for marihuana offences than his working fellow smoker. He is more open in his use of the drug, he fits the stereotype of the 'serious' marihuana user, it is a useful offence to prosecute him on when he is causing a disturbance to neighbours or landlords, and, underlying it all, there are the fundamental conflicts which exist between him and the community.
Moreover, for those hippies who have become full-time dealers in marihuana, arrest will mean even more severe sentences than previously. This slackening of police vigilance on marihuana in general will not necessarily benefit the bohemian community a great deal. Deviancy amplification will still operate and social injustice be experienced on a considerable scale. Other groups, especially immigrants, will also feel the brunt of such selective reactions against marihuana use. Simon Jenkins, in an astute analysis of racial unrest in Notting Hill, explains the widespread resentment against the police as follows:
The area is so riddled with drugs, everyone is involved — the police, the black community, everyone. It is a small wonder the police role is reduced to attempting to control drug use rather than stamp it out. And this control has led to its own frictions and demarcation disputes.
As far as the local police are concerned, they feel they are judged on their ability to operate the drug laws however inoperable such laws may be. The frustration this entails only exaggerates the already great difficulties of maintaining law and order in such depressed areas as Notting Hill. The police are undermanned and often undertrained. And in this demoralized situation it is understandable that they should pick on the most easily definable minority group as culprits for their job being a hard one.'11
The British System
The British system of treating opiate addicts was until recently disarmingly simple. Addiction was regarded as a medical, trot a criminal, problem and doctors were empowered to supply heroin or morphine to addicts. The doctor was under a professional obligation to attempt a cure, but there was no close surveillance of his practice. Limited provisions for withdrawal were available in hospitals, but there were no powers of compulsion to enter or remain during the course of treatment. Heroin and morphine were, of course, available free or at low cost on the National Health Service. The medical model used was clearly indicated by the Rolleston Report of 1926 which stated that although drugs were not to be given for the 'gratification of addiction', they could be properly administered if part of a gradual withdrawal programme or where it had been 'demonstrated after prolonged attempt at cure', that the drug could not be safely discontinued, or if 'the patient, while capable of leading a useful and relatively normal life when a certain minimum dose is regularly administered, becomes incapable of this when the drug is entirely discontinued'. This is a near perfect example of an absolutist model of deviancy, underscored as it is by abeyance to the ethos of productivity. Heroin use for pleasure was not to be condoned, but where it was part of an incurable sickness or necessary to maintain the patient at work it would be allowed.
This model in fact corresponded reasonably accurately to a large proportion of the known British addicts prior to the early sixties. Therapeutic and professional addicts, in particular, do conceive of themselves as having a sickness, do collaborate willingly with their doctors, often continue at work although still addicted, and are ambnegativef not negafive towards opiate use for purely pleasurable ends. The British system, moreover, received a great deal of praise from world experts. Legal heroin was seen as a means of avoiding a black market. The absence of an illicit market would take the backbone out of any possible addict subcultures and minimize proselytization. It would further eliminate the crime associated with expensive black market heroin, as the addict could obtain his supplies inexpensively without resort to illicit means.
But this model and the conjectures surrounding it were valid only for a time. For the emergence of a new brand of addlo in the early sixties exploited and finally caused its transformation. For he was part of a subculture which was more unashamedly hedonistic. Being less likely to view himself in a sick role, he often recommended and actively spread heroin use to others. The small number of doctors who were willing to deal with what the profession usually regarded as the unpleasant and tedious business of treating junkies were totally unprepared for these new style addicts. For they wheedled, cheated and extorted excess heroin from their physicians. The motive behind their sale of surplus was to supplement unemployment benefits and maintain a style of life without work, concomitant with the values of the subculture. Thus the British system broke down because the type of addict it had to deal with changed remarkably. The drug subculture was not necessarily a function of a black market, although the latter is transformed and intensified when heroin is illegal. Absolutist theory failed because it could only imagine organization amongst addicts as a product of the need for drugs. Heroin users being depicted as psychopaths could only evolve minimal social norms and regulation of their behaviour.12' The actual sequence of events belied this cruelly, for heroin dependency spread rapidly, concomitant with the rise of a junkie subculture, despite the fact that the black-market remained throughout only peripheral to the British drug scene.
In the face of the radical changes in heroin use, the model of analysis had to be considerably revamped, although the underlying absolutist premises remained.13 The sick designation was unaltered, but the sickness was portrayed as wildly infectious. The heroin user was cast as the passive victim of an insidious plague. The metaphor removed all active human agency from the process; the subculture itself being seen as an epidemic, not a social group with norms and values and proselytizing powers. Because of this the pusher could not be easily depicted, at least by enlightened opinion, as the corruptor. He himself, as likely as not, was an addict and gained immunity from the sick role he was seen as occupying. But scapegoating was not impossible, for in the face of rising addiction rates the doctors who released the 'germs' on their patients were fixed upon as the villains of the piece. Over-prescription, or Petroism as it became known, was seen as the cause of the problem. Now, there is little doubt that some doctors who were willing to treat heroin addicts acted irresponsibly. But it makes more sense to see them as unpfepaied for the new addict, and overworked by the increase in addiction, than as malicious agents. They were cajoled into providing for an existing demand rather than the primary cause of this demand. But the denial of both the existence of a proselytizing subculture and the active pursuit of heroin by the non-addicted made such insights impossible. The passive deviant of absolutist theory must be seen at all times as more sinned against than sinning, and the junkie doctor admirably fitted the corruptor role which the press and interest groups demanded.
The Interdepartmental Committee on Drug Addiction recommended in 1965 that, although addicts were still to be treated as sick people and not criminals, treatment was no longer to be carried out by general practitioners but by doctors in special treatment centres. Only these doctors would have the right to prescribe heroin and cocaine. Moreover, they suggested that treatment centres should have powers to detain addicts compulsorily. The Dangerous Drugs Act 1967 implemented these suggestions with the exception of compulsory detention. In 1970 the Misuse of Drugs Bill tightened the control over doctors who became liable to a maximum of fourteen-year jail sentences for wilful overprescribing of dangerous drugs. The corruptor part of the model thus eventually received strong legal underpinning.
The Treatment Centres instituted in 1968 a much more cautious and restrictive programme of heroin dispensing. To this extent they have eliminated the problems associated with overprescription; that is, the development of a proselytizing grey market of surplus heroin. But when illicit heroin supplies are available, and this at the moment is infrequent, a black-market quickly springs up to replace it. Moreover, the displacement of drug use to other more readily available drugs (described in Chapter 9) occurs repeatedly. In addition, the limited aftercare available, plus the restricted and, in my view, falsely based cure programmes in operation, do not, in the long run, add up to anything but interim measures ill-designed to tackle the problem of heroin dependency.
The future of heroin control in Britain may well involve further implementation of the epidemic metaphor in the form of the compulsory treatment of addicts. Powerful bodies of opinion are intent on the realization of this policy. A recent report of the Magistrates' Association is illustrative:
We recognize that drug dependence is an illness requiring treatment. It is a contagious illness, from which society needs protection.
There is existing legislation providing for the compulsory removal to hospital of persons suffering from smallpox and other notifiable diseases for the protection of others. (Public Health Act 1936, ss. 169 and 170.)
Similar compulsory powers for removal to hospital exist under the Mental Health Act T959 in the case of persons suffering from mental disorder, and under section 47 of the National Assistance Act 5948 where persons are unable to look after themselves.
Hence compulsory powers already exist for the treatment of contagious, mental and other illnesses, and there appears to be no ethical reason why the illness of drug dependence should not be treated compulsorily.
We feel that in many cases compulsion is necessary, particularly to support the patient when his motivation for cure vacillates.
Accordingly we urge the establishment of centres for the treatment of drug dependence having a secure perimeter and a liberal hospital regime within this perimeter. The security should be such as to prevent absconding and the smuggling of drugs into the centre.'14
The dangers of such a policy cannot be exaggerated. it could result in nothing but an intensification of the problem. Compulsory incarceration gives rise either to the institutionalized addict who willingly and often irremediably adopts the sick role, or to a process of deviancy amplification based on intense feelings of social injustice. Its ethics are based on the disease analogy, which is false; it ignores completely the more vital problem of aftercare, of the return back to the problems which instigate the dependency. Finally, it has been tried systematically and variedly in the United States where it has repeatedly and manifestly failed.
I will conclude with a series of ten rules derived from the discussion within this book, and, in my opinion, delineating the path by which a sane and just drugs policy may be reached.
1. Combat Absolutist Dogma
I have suggested that the notion of a science of society or the human psyche, based on an unthinking parallel to the natural sciences, is both empirically unfounded and morally dangerous. The absolutist scientist, by ignoring problems of human value, has unwittingly created a powerful weapon of group conflict. To punish a man because he threatens your interests or offends your morality makes no bones about the configuration of power and the existence of conflict. But to treat him because he is 'objectively' ill is to denude his deviancy of any meaning; it is to mystify conflict and conceal the mainsprings of power. Objectivity in the social world is only conceivable where there is a consensus of value. Such agreements are unknown and perhaps impossible. There are always individuals somewhere who cast doubts on the taken-for-granted reality of their fellows. But it is towards the maintenance of an unquestioned reality that much social science is committed. There are, of course, rational and consistent reasons for these attempts to define reality in mundane and workaday terms. This progressive disenchantment of the world is a function of the myopia of the social scientist and the human requirements of the system. Liam Hudson'15 has ably sketched a portrait of the scientific psyche as comparatively unemotional, purltanical, closed-minded, and suspicious of complexity in human relationships. His 'convergent' mind is probably a defence; he is able 'to turn his back on all those human issues which upset him', 'thinking' is compartmentalized from 'feeling', just as social facts are supposed to be kept separate from human values.'16 T. S. Kuhn has hinted at the structural reasons for this: 'normal science' is based on unquestioning acceptance of particular paradigms of reality. It is only at revolutionary epochs in science that the perspectives themselves are questioned; elsewhere, hypotheses derived from theories are tested but never the basic axioms themselves. This has led to 'a narrow and rigid education, probably more so than any other except perhaps orthodox theology'.17 The young scientist who questions everything and totally distrusts authority may stand at a crippling disadvantage in career terms.
This blinkered approach has been magnificently successful in the physical sciences, and, although it has the disfunction of impairing fundamental creativity, this is not our concern here. What is, is scientism: the pretence at absolute objectivity, the masquerade of consensus, which occurs when such principles are applied to study of human behaviour and social reality.
2. View Drug Use Holistically
The study of drugs must have as a base human individuals studied as whole men, not the sum of the various 'levels': physiological, psychological, and social. This additive approach is a function of the narrow division of labour of absolutist science. Rather, we must view physical man as made social by his existence in society, his consciousness created by social reality yet at the same time creating society. All levels interpenetrate and make sense only in the context of each other. The dialectic which occurs, for instance, between physiological and social levels makes nonsense of generalizations -about drugs made in vacuo ignoring how cultural differences mediate and transform both the meaning and reality of these effects. Laboratory experimentation and the use of animal subjects have only a limited, if necessgry, part to play in the study of psychotropic substances. They can produce contributory data but they can never provide explanations of human behaviour.
At the same time as looking at the total man, we must be aware of the interrelationship of the various parts of the social universe. For instance, legal action taken to suppress a particular item of behaviour will have repercussions in other parts of the system, on other items of behaviour, which at first are seemingly unconnected. I have argued that intense police action against the marihuana smoker will have unforeseen repercussions on heroin addicts and within the criminal underworld. Like the ecologist tracing complex food chains and the possible effects of human intervention, we must tread warily, knowing exactly what goals we wish to achieve, choosing appropriate means to realize them, and eliminating unintended consequences. To do this will require analysis of the culture as a whole, and may uncover vested interests which militate against change in drug laws. For instance, American Government investigations in France are reported to have uncovered links between powerful regional government officials and the Marseilles heroin-traffickers. Making heroin illegal creates a most lucrative black market which has the widespread effect of encouraging the corruption of police and politicians. This, in turn, has the unintended consequence of very effectively shielding trafficking from the intrusion of control agencies.
The campaign against psychotropic drugs carried out under the auspices of the United Nations is, despite the medical and scholarly language used in its pronouncements, typically underscored by distinctly political considerations. A major force in the formulation and implementation of policy is the United States. For example, in order to restrict the supply of heroin entering the United States from Mexico the White House task force, set up under the Nixon administration, put considerable economic pressure on the recalcitrant Mexican Government. Operation Intercept dictated that every car after 21 September 1969 crossing the American border from Mexico should be searched. Within hours there was chaos, with cars waiting up to six hours. Within weeks unemployment in Mexican border towns dependent upon American tourism was running well over 5o per cent. Damaged economically, the Mexican Government sued for peace. On io October Operation Intercept became Operation Co-operation.'18 Similar political and economic pressures have recently occurred against Turkey (an opium producer) and Lebanon (a marihuana grower). The structure of the world drug market is at one level affected by the ploys of international politics. The rise in amphetamine use in Montreal and the degree of organization of the marihuana market in Britain are probably repercussions of political decisions taken in the United States, which resulted in a reduction of the supply of grass into North America. The subjective effects experienced, the degree of psychosis, mortality and organization, the cultural standards of drug-using groups, can be radically altered by high-level political decisions. To understand the drugtaker in the street, to explain his behaviour, we must trace lines of causation which involve factors immediately relevant to his social position: job opportunities, accessibility of drugs, social attitudes to subterranean values, etc. We must also understand how this array of immediate factors come about. Both to explain drugtaking and to suggest methods of implementing changes in drug use leads us to a consideration of the total political and social context in which the consumption of drugs occurs. The absolutist, by considering the drug user as an isolated pathological atom, and, proceeding further, splitting this atom into discrete levels for analysis, utilizes a model which, however useful it is in maintaining unquestioned the status quo, is heuristically unsatisfactory in the extreme.
3. Avoid Designating Behaviour as Sickness
I have argued that to designate drug dependency as a sickness will, especially in those instances where psychiatric institutions have considerable power and prestige, result inevitably in the loss of the individual's ability to make adjustments to his situation not involving drug use. This predicament is exacerbated by the use of treatment institutions which are regimented in a manner which removes decision from the inmates, and by clinical definitions of addiction as 'a disease with a pronounced tendency to relapse'. It is no accident that the most successful methods of treating addiction have involved demanding that the addict regard himself as a responsible individual who chooses to stay off drugs, and which provide relevant and plausible solutions to the problems which led to addiction in the first place. Synanon and the Black Muslim treatment programme are cases in point.'19
Here again, we see how the interpretations that social scientists make of behaviour have unintended consequences on the subjects themselves. What absolutism sees as a confirmation of its theories is, thus, merely its product. That is not to say, then, that behaviour akin to physical sickness does not occur; only that it need only be temporary and is understandable in terms of human motivation. Nor that the identity of an addict does not in some circumstances appear pathological; only that this is not his inalterable essence.
It should not be thought that changes in treatment methods will be accomplished without considerable resistance. As in the field of mental illness, professional competence and previous investments in career and specialized knowledge are severely threatened when the dominant psychiatric ideology comes under attack. Nor, even if the profession were willing to make radical changes, would their course be an easy one. Because the sick deviant is a neutralized entity, the reconceptualization of him as a free agent, motivated by meaningful social pressures and capable of choosing or repudiating addiction as a solution to his problems, defuses strategic patterns of social control just as it often supports solutions less tolerable to the population than addiction itself. Here again, we are not faced with a scholarly debate which can be solved merely by rational argument and recourse to appropriate empirical evidence. The existing structures which control drug use relate to society as a whole. They can only be changed by an analysis which embraces the total culture, and action which candidly assesses the configuration of vested interests, both moral and material.
4. Avoid Scapegoating
Current models of behaviour not only offer explanations of deviancy; they also serve as social control mechanisms. I have argued that to ascribe unwelcome behaviour to personal sickness or inadequacy subtly removes all authenticity of meaning from such actions. As such it can be said that deviancy never freely occurs; like chickenpox it is caught, or like mental deficiency it is merely an absence of normal attributes. But the
drawback to this model is that it does not explain where the . -
'germ' of deviancy arises, or why personal inadequacy leads to
one form of deviant behaviour rather than another. To do this would demand that the deviant chooses or creates his miscreant path. And such an admission would severely flaw the major thrust of the model. It is for this reason that scapegoating is an almost universal concomitant of the absolutist portrait of deviancy. It is the corruptor, who infects or sways the weak minded, who is to blame for deviancy. And it is against him that the full wrath of the law is aimed. This analysis would argue that such rage against the 'drug pusher' or the 'junkie doctor' is misconceived, irrelevant and often sadly unjust.
5. Avoid Deviancy Amplification
The basic premise for control is Wilkin's stipulation that 'a society can control effectively only those who perceive themselves to be members of it'. That is, we must do all in our power to retard the formation of processes of deviancy amplification. As it is, by isolating, alienating and exacerbating the social circumstances of the drugtaker we contribute significantly to the criminality, psychosis and physical injury associated with drug use. The antagonism is directed invariably at socially vulnerable groups. Troy Duster has brought this out well in his fascinating history of opiate use in the United States:
Certain social categories lend themselves more to moral condemnation than others. Whereas the lower and working classes had the smallest proportion of addicts in 1900, in :969 they constituted the overwhelming majority of known addicts. Whereas blacks were less than Jo per cent of the addict population in i9oo, they are now more than half of the addicts known to law enforcement agencies. Whereas there were formerly more women than men addicted, the ratio is now at least seven to one for men. Whereas the middle-aged predominated in 1900, youth is now far and away the most likely of known offenders. The list could go on, but the point is simply that middle America's moral hostility comes faster and easier when directed toward a young, lower-class Negro male, than toward a middle-aged, middle-class white female20
The middle-class white American addict was regarded as a medical problem; the lower-class black addict an object of unbelievable hostility. The sense of social injustice arising from such victimization is immense. The Canadian Le Dain Committee grasped this when they wrote:
The harm caused by a conviction for simple possession appears to be out of all proportion to any good it is likely to achieve in relation to the phenomenon of non-medical drug use. Because of the nature of the phenomenon involved, it is bound to impinge more heavily on the young than on other segments of the population. Moreover, it is bound to blight the life of some of the most promising of the country's young. Once again there is the accumulating social cost of a profound sense of injustice, not only at being the unlucky one whom the authorities have decided to prosecute, but at having to pay such an enormous price for conduct which does not seem to concern anyone but oneself.21
To ameliorate deviancy amplification it would be necessary to educate both the general public and the personnel manning the agencies of social control. Policemen, social workers and magistrates would have to drastically revise their stereotypes. Social agencies would have to be constantly aware of the unintended consequences of their actions and the underlying conflict mediating their relationships with drug-using cultures. Especially important, here, is an awareness of the role of the press in fanning up moral panics. The educational system is the other major channel for the organized dissemination of information. It is of the utmost priority that it should form a critical counterbalance to the aggressive distortions that the mass media abound in.
6. Restrict Legislation
To call for restraint in implementation of the drugs laws is not sufficient. The laws themselves have proved damaging and unworkable. Troy Duster makes his central thesis in The Legislation of Morality the contention that to legislate against victimless acts, carried out privately and willingly, is fruitless:
Drug use is engaged in privately, not publicly, and there is no party to the act who has an interest in being the plaintiff. For these reasons, the law will not be effective in bringing about a change in the behaviour or morality of the law violators. Thus, millions of dollars are spent in a fruitless attempt to stamp out the problem, that could better be used upon some constructive program. At the very least, the negative gain would involve the elimination of the pursuit of an impossible task.'22
The Canadian Royal Commission would seem to concur on the question of cost: 'We intend during the ensuing year to attempt to determine the relative cost in actual dollars and allocations of time of the enforcement of the drug laws, but it is our initial impression from our observations so far that it is out of alrproportion to the relative effectiveness of the law.'23 Worse than this, the legislation against private drug use creates a black market, increases drug prices and adulteration, and invites criminal involvement. Edwin Schur, in his study of 'crimes without victims', puts this position clearly:
It is widely recognized by disinterested students of crime that whatever drastic methods are employed, law enforcement efforts in the victimless crime area are bound to meet with very limited success. The basic effect of repressive laws of this sort seems to be simply to divert the demand from legal to illegal channels, and to place the illicit supplier in a particularly strong economic position. Law Professor Herbert Packer has suggestively referred to a kind of 'crime tariff' that goes into operation in such situations. He points out that 'Regardless of what we think we are trying to do, if we make it illegal to traffic in commodities for which there is an inelastic demand, the actual effect is to secure a kind of monopoly profit to the entrepreneur who is willing to break the law.' While the various kinds of illicit traffic may vary considerably in degree of organization and monopolistic concentration, at the very least, as economist Thomas Schelling notes, 'any successful black marketeer enjoys a "protected" market in the same way that a domestic industry is protected by a tariff, or butter by a law against margarine. The black marketeer gets automatic protection, through the law itself, from all competitors unwilling to pursue a criminal career. The laws give a kind of franchise to those who are willing to break the law."24
The problem in a nutshell is that if there is a strong demand for an illicit activity, then legislation, far from removing that demand, will merely pervert and distort it.
Advocates of the strict legal control of supplies have to contend not only with illicit importers springing up and the displacement of drug use to other, sometimes more damaging drugs. They also have to reckon with illicit manufacture. For advances in chemical synthesis, together with the spread in chemical know-how, have made their task impossible. As the control of the means of production of advanced psychotropic agents become increasingly diffuse, the law will be reduced to the position of sniping in a desultory fashion at obvious scapegoats. Control, let alone elimination, will become a recognized impossibility.
This is not to suggest that some legislation cannot usefully protect the consumer; merely that laws cannot direct or stamp out consumer demand or illicit supply. Like it or not, we live in a society which makes extensive and repeated use of psycho.. tropic drugs. Effective controls must be instituted if we are to avoid a vast amount of unnecessary misery and hardship.
7. Maintain Cultures
Subcultures. which involve drugtaking have often a body of stipulations and controls as to the use of particular drugs. They have also a system of values which judges the effects of a particular drug as being either good or bad. Research on drinking behaviour has shown that heavy pathological drinking is associated with backgrounds which have an absence of directives for the act of drinking alcohol.25 That is, those groups who have a finely spun code of when to drink and when not to drink produce 'social drinkers', and those which have no directives tend to produce alcoholics. It is vital to enmesh the taking of any drug in a system of norms and controls, if deleterious effects are to be avoided. The call for sexual abstinence is pathetically ineffective in controlling illegitimate births and venereal diseases. Only contraceptive knowledge and hygiene is workable. Similarly, to control the amount, type and administration of drugs needs sound knowledge accumulated over time. With this in mind, it is strongly disfunctional to harass and undermine existing drug subcultures. The example of Holland should be followed, where underground clubs (e.g., Fantasio and Paradiso) are allowed to exist comparatively unhindered by the police despite the fact that marihuana is smoked regularly and openly. Likewise, in the cure of addiction or the treatment for bad trips, non-professional people from the respective subcultures are often more successful than medical men whose values are alien, and knowledge extensive yet sadly inapplicable. The appropriate role of the doctor here should be parallel to that of the detached youth worker. Social problems are not solvable medically. They are only resolved by social means, although in the case of drug use, medical advice is a necessary adjunct.
8. Positive Propaganda
The majority of information fed to the public as to the nature and effects of psychotropic drugs is misleading and inaccurate. This results in widespread scepticism. Thus the Le Dain Report notes:
We have been told repeatedly that many young people were initially deterred from experimenting with cannabis by reports of the dangers of drugs. However, from the personal experience of friends many soon learnt that some of these accounts were exaggerated. As a result, the credibility of much of the literature critical of the drug experience was lost, and with it much of the credibility of traditional authority figures such as teachers, parents, physicians and the police.'26
On the one hand, the neophyte to the subculture soon learns to be cynical of outside information, on the other, the solitary drug user is particularly prone to such misinformation. As William Braden, reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times, suggests:
Just suppose. Here all of a sudden is this Greek chorus of doctors and psychiatrists warning young people to avoid LSD: it might drive them crazy. And the warnings are dutifully passed on by the press. This doesn't stop the young people from taking LSD, of course; but it could possibly create a subliminal anxiety that results in either a bad trip or in a panic reaction at some later date. Since LSD subjects are so highly suggestible, as is well known, it could be that they oblige the doctors and the press by doing exactly what they were told they would do. They flip out.27
A recent anti-drug poster, showing a padded cell complete with a straitjacket and the caption 'LSD is a terrifyingly dangerous hallucinogenic drug', and 'LSD can take you places you never dreamt of', is pernicious. As is the headline: 'LSD induces urge to kill, report says.' The myths about drugs are not their reality but, especially where the user is not part of a strongly based subculture, they can profoundly shape and alter the drug experience. Given that the present legislation against the use of drugs, combined with widespread police action against drugtakers, have failed to to curb the extent of drugtaking, it would seem to be advisable that authoritative facts about the effects of drugs be fed into the drug subculture itself. For it is the subculture of drugtaking which has the only viable authority to control the activity of its members. Moreover, developments have already begun in this direction: witness the campaign waged against the use of amphetamines, especially methedrine, by the underground newspaper International Times, and the information organization BIT. There is an element of self-regulation and control occurring within groups of drugtakers themselves and this is compounded of thousands of individual experiments with drugs. I am not arguing that this body of knowledge is superior to that of the outside world in all aspects, but that, however unscientific this knowledge is in parts, it at least has the benefit of being based on first-hand experience. What is necessary is that this knowledge is supplemented and corrected where necessary by authoritative outside sources. You cannot control an activity merely by shouting out that it is forbidden; you must base your measures on facts, and these facts must come from sources that are valued by the people you wish to influence.
Moreover, information aimed at controlling drug use must be phrased in terms of the values of the subculture, not in terms of the values of the outside world. It is useless to try to forbid marihuana by pointing out cases where it led to young people becoming beatniks and being permanently out of work. A culture which disdains work, which values hedonism and expressivity, would be little impressed with this: on the other hand, to indicate that heroin addiction leads to an existence where human relationships become secondary to the daily fix, where mobility is impaired, where constant increase in dosage is necessary to combat tolerance and maintain pleasure, would inhibit any tendency towards escalation by the marihuana smoker because it would indicate what heroin is really like — a hang-up in terms of the smokers' own values and argot.
Authoritative information must not be based on absolutist conceptions of values — it must relate to the values and aspirations of the individuals concerned. It must take into account the extent to which drug effects are shaped by social situation, and this in turn by the existing system of drug control. In the last analysis, the most fundamental criterion of drug abuse is health risk. This is not to suggest that individuals should be forced to avoid actions which endanger their lives. Merely that they should be aware of the consequences of their actions. I am in complete agreement with J. S. Mill's dictum here. Namely that: 'the only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.' Such a statement, however, does not reckon with the moral indignation of the temperate and virtuous. I have argued that such moral crusades must be strongly resisted, as must the pseudo-humanitarianism which inevitably accompanies them. We must learn to live with psychotropic drug use; it is only by treating citizens as responsible human beings that any sane and long-lasting control can be achieved.
The hypocrisy of the existing system of control is a major obstacle to the creation of a workable public policy. How can one condemn marihuana use, with its non-existent mortality rate, and cash in, through taxes, on tobacco which kills 250 people a day? Extensive education is needed but this must be based on a sense of priority.28 It is morally offensive that the tobacco companies should be allowed to foster, through vast expenditure on advertising, the taken-for-granted innocuousness of its products. Any educational programme must be based on a wide front to include all psychotropic drugs, and tobacco, alcohol and the barbiturates must necessarily, because of their prominent health risk, be its major targets.
9. Examination of Motives
The Le Dain Report displayed remarkable insight into the world of illicit drug use:
Young people speak often of a desire to overcome the division of life into work and play, to achieve a way of life that is less divided, less seemingly schizophrenic, and more unified. They seem to be talking about the increasingly rare privilege of work that one can fully enjoy — of work that is like one's play. They claim to be prepared to make considerable remuneration or sacrifice of traditional satisfactions like status and material success for work in which they can take pleasure. Indeed, one of their frequent condemnations of the older generation is that it does not seem to enjoy its work, that it does not seem to be happy. This is said sadly, even sympathetically. It is not said contemptuously. The young say, in effect, 'why should we repeat this pattern.' The use of drugs for many is part of a largely hedonistic life style in which happiness and pleasure are taken as self-evident valid goals of human life.'29
Our society places individuals in a peculiar double bind where work is sacrosanct yet alienating, and leisure is precious, yet, if pursued seriously, non-respectable. We create a bifurcation where both spheres of life are underlined by anxiety and guilt. Parallel to this is a high valuation of insight and religious experience on the one hand, and an insistence on workaday realism on the other. But if insight questions reality it becomes disturbing. Fleetingly, then, we cross the barriers into play, and sometimes into mystic experience, through the use of psychotropic agents. Undiluted hedonism and the psychedelic experience simultaneously fascinate and repel the guardians of the taken-for-granted world. It is the use of drugs to achieve these illicit goals, by individuals who overtly embrace hedonistic and/or psychedelic values, which is condemned. Talk of dangers to health is a side issue which is used to close up all discussion on the subject. If it were health alone that were the major concern, many psychotropic agents would be legal and research would be directed at the production of safe and useable drugs.
We must therefore open up the debate by insisting on the freedom of the individual to pursue goals which do not directly harm the welfare of others. The roots of moral indignation must be publicly examined and understood. The vested interests of powerful groups and control agencies must be systematically exposed. Only then can we be said to be 'tackling the drug problem' in any realistic sense of the phrase.
10. Structural Change
The natural history of drug use leads inevitably to the politics of experience. Social control is not a given constant in analysis — a fixed and unquestioned reaction; both deviancy and the reactions against it must be examined thoroughly and their causes understood. Moreover, at a high level, both action and reaction, drug use and control, are explicable in terms of the same existing structure of relationships within society, the dominant value system, and the constellation of interests that revolve around the way men earn a living. To fundamentally change patterns of psychotropic drug use we must therefore alter both the structures which give rise to drugtaking and those which generate exacerbating and intensifying reaction. To desire to make such a change will depend on valuations as to the proper range of human experience, the correct relationship between work and play, and the norm of consciousness. It cannot be decided by medicine or by absolutist social science.
There is a body of opinion in this country which sees the solution to the drug problem in terms of more vigorous legislation. The answer to this is simple: the evidence both in the United States and Britain shows this endeavour to be both quixotic and totally inappropriate. There is another faction which sees the solution in terms of the redefinition of drug use as a chronic illness. Their well-meaning concern and intention is beyond question. What is debateable is the patina of science which they have cast over their theories of drug dependency, their mandate to define the limits of human experience, and the dubious 'cures' which they have achieved. The only method of curing a social problem is socially. That is, we must either remove it from the category of social problems because its psychic or physical effects do not warrant its inclusion, or change the structural position of the individuals concerned so that the problem can be solved in ways which do not involve recourse to mentally destructive, physically incapacitating, drugs. But to achieve this may necessitate greater change than either the advocates of more repressive legislation or the proponents of 'social medicine' may be agreeable to. It is not merely the drugtaker but the experts, politicians and general public who must change if we are to eliminate genuinely deleterious drug use from our society.
1 Report by the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, Hallucinogens Subcommittee, HMSO, London, 1968.
2 The Wootton Report, pp. 38-9.
3 The Times Parliamentary Report, 28 January 1969.
4 13 July 1969'
5 The Times Parliamentary Report, 27 March 1969.
6 C. Coon and R. Harris, The Release Report on Drug Offenders and the Law, Sphere, London, 1969.
7 Monday, 24 July 1967.
8 Daily Telegraph, 30 May and 19 July 1969.
9 12 March 1970.
10 J consider the various myths evolved by the mass media to depict deviants elsewhere; see Media as Myth (forthcoming).
11 'An Open Letter to Mr Maudling', Evening Standard, 18 August 1970.
12 The classic statement on this position is the description of the retreatist subculture in Delinquency and Opportunity by R. Cloward and R. Ohlin (The Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1960). American advocates of the British system believed that its avoidance of a black market minimized the danger of an addict subculture (and therefore proselytization) occurring. See E. Schur, Crimes Without Victims, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 965, pp. I44-5; A. Lindesmith, The Addict and the Law, Vintage Books, New York, 965, p. 169.
13 consider the various models of heroin addiction and their corresponding notions of 'the cure' elsewhere. See 'Images of Addiction and Its Cure', in Drug Abuse (ed.), J. Ford, Harper & Row, 1971.
14 Fiftieth Annual Report of The Magistrates' Association z969-19.7o, PP. 43-4.
15 L. Hudson, Contrary Imaginations, Methuen, London, 1966. 210
16 L. Hudson, Contrary Imaginations, Methuen, London, 1966, p. 104.
17 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second edition, Chicago University Press, 1970, p. 166.
18 'Sunday Times, 27 September 1970.
19 I discuss these treatment programmes in detail in 'Images of Addiction and Its Cure', in Drug 46 use (ed.) J. Ford, Harper & Row, mt.
20 T. Duster, The Legislation of Morality, The Free Press, New York, 1970, pp. 20-21.
21 Le Dain Report, p. 52o.
22 T. Duster, op. cit., p. 244.
23 Le Dain Report, p. 5 I 8.
24 Our Criminal Society, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1969, p. 199. ' 218
25 See E:Miz,ruchi and R. Perucci, 'Norm Qualities and Differential Effects of Deviant Behaviour', American Sociological Review, no. 27, 1962, pp. 395-9.
26 Le Dain Report, p. 311
27 'LSD and the Press', in Psychedelics, (ed.) B. Aaronson and H. Osmond, Doubleday, New York, 1970, p. 410.
28 At the moment, Young's Law of Information on Psychotropic Drugs would seem to be in operation. Namely, that the greater the public health risk (measured in number of mortalities) of a psychotropic substance, the less the amount of information (including advertising) in the mass media critical of its effects. Tobacco, alcohol, the barbiturates, amphetamines, heroin, LSD and marihuana (listed in declining public health risk) would all seem to fit this proportion (apart from those exceptional, and short-lived, occasions when health report scares occur).
29 Le Dain Report, p. 343.