Jake McCrary's Reviews > Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
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it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, non-tech, read_2016

I thought this was great book. Maybe I thought that because it reinforces ideas to which I've already been exposed. I've watched the right documentaries, listened to the right radio programs, and read enough other material where very few of the studies reference in this book were new to me. Even still, this book brings together studies, history, and anecdotes to present a compelling read on the war on drugs and addiction. I have a hard time believing that someone could finish this book and not be prepared to cast a vote towards changing drug laws towards decriminalization or legalization.

The book opens with a history lesson on the start of drug prohibition in the United States and how it spread throughout much of the world. Spoiler warning: It wasn't for harm reduction; it was justify a federal departments existence and was mostly based on suppressing truths and racism.

It continues with stories of resistance to the drug law changes and stories of addiction. It presents evidence that treating addicts as criminals harms society. You get insights into the violence encouraged by prohibition. The book shows alternative approaches that have worked in various cities around the world both historically and currently. It highlights recent changes to drug laws in Switzerland, Portugal and Uruguay and the benefits seen by those countries. The recent marijuana law changes in the states of Colorado and Washington are discussed.

Overall I thought this was a great book and it did an interesting job presenting the topic. I think its a must read (or, some of the references it is based on are must reads) for anyone in any position to influence policy around drugs and addiction. Given that most of us have the power to vote and as a result are in a (relatively weak) position to change policy I'd recommend this book to everyone.
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Reading Progress

January 29, 2015 – Shelved
January 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 10, 2016 – Started Reading
October 13, 2016 – Shelved as: non-fiction
October 13, 2016 – Shelved as: non-tech
October 13, 2016 – Shelved as: read_2016
October 14, 2016 – Finished Reading

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