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JULY 1, 2004

Pharmacotherapy and the Future of the Drug War
– New Report Warns Policing is Poised to Move Inside the Body and Brain –

A 50-page policy report released by the non-profit Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics warns that the war on drugs may be about to enter a new era “that expands the drug war battlefield from the Colombian coca farms and the Middle Eastern poppy fields, to a new terrain directly inside the bodies and brains of drug users.”



The report is the first comprehensive and critical analysis of ‘pharmacotherapy,’ the use of new medications designed to block the effects of illegal drugs. While acknowledging that such pharmacological aids may well benefit people who voluntarily chose to use them, the CCLE report raises concerns about potential coercive use.

Compassionate Coercion--'Good Drugs' Fighting 'Bad Drugs'

In addition to waging a “war on drugs,” the federal government is now working to eradicate the “disease” of drug use. These metaphors, notes the CCLE report, play an important role in driving federal drug control policy because they frame the remedies available to the government.

For example, the 2003 National Drug Control Strategy casts users of illegal drugs as “vectors of contagion” who are “in denial” about their “disease” and who need treatment before “transmitting the disease to others.” Such language, says the CCLE report, lends itself to coercive treatment wherein the government feels justified in “medicating” drug users through policies of ‘compassionate coercion.’ “Coercion, whether ‘compassionate’ or otherwise, is still coercion,” cautions the CCLE report.

Bodily Integrity & Freedom of Thought

The CCLE report examines the pharmacotherapy drugs currently under development, and also highlights the legal rights that would be violated if a government were to require certain persons (such as prisoners, probationers or public assistance recipients) to take the anti-drug medications. The implicated legal rights include the right to bodily integrity, the right to privacy, the right to make one’s own informed and voluntary medical decisions, and the right to freedom of thought.

The report concludes with policy recommendations, which underscore the importance of restricting pharmacotherapy medications to voluntary use. “In the absence of “extraordinary circumstances,” notes the report, “the government should be barred from coercing a peaceful person to take a pharmacotherapy drug.”

Ü Pharmacotherapy and the Future of the Drug War is available here. Hard copies of the report are available for $30.00; a PDF may be accessed free of charge.

For more information, please contact:
Publications Director
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics


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