Cloves and Fedoras: The War on Drugs is examined in the book "Chasing the Scream"

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Cloves and Fedoras is Seed Sings reviews for little known pieces of pop culture (or older pieces).  Feel free to contact us with your own submissions of undiscovered gems that must be known. 

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari is the story of the War on Drugs driven by America and spread to the rest of the world under the fear of retaliation from America. The wage of war began in the 1930s and is alive and well today. Hari begins his book by painting a picture of what it was like before the engagement of this long since failed crusade. You could go to any American pharmacy and buy products made from the same ingredients as heroin and cocaine. The most popular cough mixtures in the United States contained opiates, a new soft drink called Coca­Cola was made from the same plant as snortable cocaine, and over in Britain, the classiest department stores sold heroin tins for society women. In the book we follow the story of so many who were caught up in the drug war starting with the man behind it, Harry Anslinger. He was appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics which was a new role for the people who ran the Department of Prohibition which had recently been abolished. It was apparent to many that this bureau was due to be a part of history at any time. We also learn about Billie Holiday and how the drug war killed her. Anslinger personally saw to it as he made sure she was forbade adequate care to survive her addiction. There was also Arnold Rothstein, the top gangster who immediately saw the benefit of the drug war. Just as prohibition opened up a black market for alcohol, the drug war would do the same for narcotics. Rothstein was all too ready to benefit. And although he was eventually anonymously murdered for his stranglehold on the market, many more rapidly emerged to take his place. Hari then turns to the climate of the drug war today by following a retired police officer who is now fighting to legalize drugs after what she had seen for many years on the force. A New York City street dealer who embodies the modern day Rothstein selling crack on the corner and leading a gang to keep his turf his not because he wants to, but out of necessity. A woman who lost her daughter to a man mixed up in the war in Juarez, Mexico, who marched to her state capitol only to be murdered by the drug cartels who have bought the state right on the front steps for anyone and everyone to see. And so many other victims of the this failed policy intended to remove drugs from society. It quickly becomes more than clear that our prescribed solution to the drug problem is monumentally more of a problem that drug addiction is alone. The author also goes to a few places where things are turning around thanks to a change in policy. Leaving drug prohibition and criminalization behind and focusing on compassion and education seems to be working for places like Vancouver, Switzerland, and Portugal. These places are trying new approaches which seem to be reducing most of the negative side effects that been left in the stain of the drug war leaving us with hope for ways to spread this change of tide.

Kirk Aug

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