On June 17, 1971, President Nixon declared the war on drugs. Fifty years later, the devastating harms of the war on drugs -- ranging from mass criminalization and police violence to soaring rates of overdose -- have been well documented. Less well documented are the ways in which the drug war has been a barrier to research and science. The Controlled Substances Act, a centerpiece of Nixon’s drug war, enshrined a drug scheduling regime that has made it nearly impossible to research the potential therapeutic and pleasurable benefits of substances.
But perhaps even more damaging to our collective understanding about drugs and their effects has been the prohibitionist framework that constrains our research funding, our research priorities, the kinds of questions we ask, and who becomes the object of study. As a result, there are systemic gaps in our knowledge about who uses drugs and why, the positive and pleasurable effects of drugs, which drugs are studied, the social contexts in which people choose to use and to stop using drugs -- just to name a few. Moreover, the moralism, stigma, and propensity to blame people who use drugs inherent in drug war logic has led to an overemphasis on individual-level research (e.g., brain disease model of addiction) and the neglect of more structural research that might help elucidate root causes and systemic solutions.
This webinar will explore these issues, asking “what research and knowledge has been delayed or lost to the war on drugs?” and “how can researchers and academics generate solutions?”
Moderator: Jules Netherland, Drug Policy Alliance