FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             August 31, 2000

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
– Blurs Abuse with Use.

 WASHINGTON, DC – Today (August 31, 2000) the federal government released the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. According to the survey’s statistics use of controlled substances is down among those aged 12-17, but up among those aged 18-25. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey credits the drop in adolescent use to campaigns such as D.A.R.E. and the billion-dollar-a-year Youth Media Campaign.

The rise in drug use by young adults, is evidence, says McCaffrey, that “club drugs” (Ecstasy, LSD, GHB) must be “confronted promptly and appropriately.”

Ignored in the discussion of the various statistics, is the rather glaring question of why all drug use is unquestioningly considered “abuse.”

“There is a world of difference between drug use and drug abuse,” said Richard Glen Boire, J.D. Executive Director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics in Davis, California. “National drug policy could take a huge step forward, by recognizing that the vast majority of the 14.8 million adults who used an “illicit drug” in the last month did so responsibly.” Boire is one of a growing group of policy experts who say that while drug abuse is a problem, drug use need not be. “Responsible drug use need not be a problem, and should be distinguished from irresponsible use, which manifests in irresponsible behavior. Only the latter poses a social problem, and hence only the latter should trigger law enforcement,” argues attorney Boire.

A 1972 report by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, which was commissioned by President Nixon, made the same point – noting that not all drug use was socially harmful and should not be conflated with drug abuse: “Drug abuse,” wrote the Commission, “is the use of psychoactive drugs in a way likely to induce mental dysfunction and disordered behavior… the term drug abuse, with its attendant societal disapprobation, should be reserved for drug taking which has a more direct effect on society through disordered behavior.” (Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding (Chapter III))

The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics maintains that national drug policy needs to begin treating adults like adults, and recognize that ‘zero-tolerance’ violates the right of adults to responsibly control their own minds. According to attorney Boire, continuing to misdirect national resources into an unwinnable ‘war on drugs’ will simply perpetuate and exacerbate societal harms. “What’s worse,” asks Boire, “taking money away from schools to finance anti-drug campaigns, to build more prisons, and to hire more cops; or accepting the fact that millions of Americans enjoy using marijuana and other drugs on occasion, and are not causing any harm by doing so?”


Contact Information:
Wrye Sententia
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
Telephone: 1-530-750-7912
Fax: 1-530-686-8265
Web site:

About the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
About the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics  
The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, law and policy center working in the public interest to protect fundamental civil liberties. The Center seeks to foster cognitive liberty – the basic human right to unrestrained independent thinking, including the right to control one’s own mental processes and to experience the full spectrum of possible thought. Web site:


This news release is available on the Internet at:

To receive periodic cognitive liberty alerts, updates, and announcements, please subscribe here.