November 22, 1985

Drug Control in a Free Society

Author Affiliations

University of New Mexico School of Medicine Albuquerque


by James Bakalar and Lester Grinspoon, 174 pp, $19.95, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1984.

JAMA. 1985;254(20):2974-2975. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360200128051

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This is a landmark book, destined to be regaled and harangued by many. It also is being published at a time when the questions raised and addressed by the authors are being argued in court, specifically in the case of the Drug Enforcement Agency's proposed placement of MDMA (3,4 - methylenedioxymetamphetamine) into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, by reading this book and following the hearings on MDMA, one feels a sense of being at a certain threshold in our attitude toward the rational use of mind-altering drugs.

Bakalar and Grinspoon, both of Harvard Medical School, have, for years, been presenting us with our inconsistencies in addressing drug use that does not readily fall under the purview of "accepted medical use." These uses are variously referred to as "religious," "recreational," "pleasurable," "performance-enhancing," etc. The drugs whose uses they have studied in this regard include marijuana, cocaine, and the so-called