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Pills, Powder and Smoke Reviews

Pills, Powder and Smoke by Antony Loewenstein

Pills, Powder, and Smoke

inside the bloody War on Drugs

Antony Loewenstein

3.57 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Scribe Publications
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Publication date: 9 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9781912854240
4 stars out of 5
Colin Freeman
8 Feb 2020

"anyone for ‘woke coke’?"

As anyone who has watched Narcos will know, there is indeed much that seems pointless and unbecoming in the US-led war on drugs, but framing it as a deliberate conspiracy by Uncle Sam may not win over critics of Loewenstein’s case. He is most thought-provoking not when lamenting the problems of prohibition, but when grappling with the challenges of legalisation. With cannabis legally available in 11 US states, that watershed moment has already come. He advocates, perhaps rightly, for a state monopoly on its sale, to prevent the rise of “Big Cannabis” corporations underplaying the risks it poses to mental health.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
20 Jan 2020

"Loewenstein gives a thorough and convincing picture of an utterly failed policy"

When it comes to the dirty wars waged by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, which, after 9/11, created a fictitious bogeyman called “narco-terrorism” to partner “Islamofascism” as a casus belli, Loewenstein gives a thorough and convincing picture of an utterly failed policy, driven by racism, neoimperialism and mere professional closure on the part of politicians and police. But right-thinking people knew the war on drugs was futile years ago, didn’t they? The very name gives the game away, for how can a war against an inanimate object ever be won?

3 stars out of 5
11 Jan 2020

"Antony Loewenstein dives deep into drug policy but book lacks solutions"

So even if the drug war has been a disaster, it is not clear precisely what an alternative policy looks like, or how it should be rolled out. Loewenstein does some good work sketching elements of it, and elaborates some ideas in a penultimate chapter titled “Solutions”, but they lack the eye-witness acuity and rigorous scepticism he brings to the drug war itself. That, perhaps, could be his next book.

4 stars out of 5
James Bloodworth
3 Jan 2020

"the only thing wars against human nature ever produce, as Loewenstein shows in this lucid and well-researched book, are piles of dead bodies"

We need to dispense with this pharmacological puritanism. Sensible drug policies begin with the acknowledgment that for the majority who use them drugs are, at least for them, a relatively harmless source of relaxation and escapism. A minority need help to get off drugs, not criminalisation. Humans have been getting high since time immemorial; the war on drugs is unwinnable because it is a war against human nature. And the only thing wars against human nature ever produce, as Loewenstein shows in this lucid and well-researched book, are piles of dead bodies.