Commentary and Reviews

This is an insightful book about the discriminatory nature of the drug war in America and how our politicians have converted a chronic medical problem into a criminal justice problem.

It also explains how the increase in petty drug busts has been used to make politicians look tough on crime, build jail cells and deny funding for drug prevention and education programs for children.

Dr. Jocelyn Elders

Former U.S. Surgeon General, Professor of Endocrinology,

Arkansas Children's Hospital

Never did I think one could learn so much about the drug crisis all in one place. Mike Gray has written a book of profound compassion that nevertheless deals intelligently with the facts. Drug Crazy is an antidote for passivity.

Daniel Shorr

This book sheds real light on what is happening in American cities today and how current drug control strategies undermine our efforts to keep our kids and streets safe.

Anyone who is serious about finding solutions to drug-related problems should read this book, debate it with their colleagues and demand real solutions from their elected leaders.

Kurt L. Schmoke

Mayor, City of Baltimore

This book tells the public what many front line police officers know from their experience -- the drug war needs radical re-evaluation.

Joseph McNamara

The Hoover Institution

Former Police Chief, San Jose, Califonia

This urgent issue badly needs the exposure given in this book a chilling array of facts which hopefully will move the country.

Henry Kendall,

Nobel Laureate

Chairman, Union of Concerned Scientists

I learned an enormous amount about the underside of drug politics from reading Drug Crazy. It is an eye-opener. The book raises controversial but reasoned suggestions for rethinking drug policy in the United States. I highly recommend this book to everyone concerned about developing an effective strategy toward drug abuse.

Alvin F. Poussaint, MD

Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

The true story that Mike Gray tells so effectively is indeed stranger than fiction. Who would believe that a democratic government would pursue for eight decades a failed policy that produced tens of millions of victims and trillions of dollars of illicit profits for drug dealers; cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars; increased crime and destroyed inner cities; fostered widespread corruption and violations of human rights -- and all with no success in achieving the stated and unattainable objective of a drug-free America.

Milton Friedman

The Hoover Institution

Drug Crazy is an oasis of clarity and common sense in a desert of misinformation and hysteria.

Ira Glasser

America Civil Liberties Union

Anyone who thinks the war on drugs is succeeding should read this book. It shifts the burden of proof from the critics of existing policy to its defenders. That is no mean achievement!

Elliot Richardson

Former United States Attorney General

This is a book that every American who is concerned about the problem of drugs in America should read and take seriously. It s a revealing and well-documented account of some of the weaknesses and problems involved in our present approach to drugs and a suggestion of how we can do better.

George McGovern

Former United States Senator


Gray brings a filmic sense of drama and action to a gritty, scorching look at the failure of America s war on drugs.

Arguing that the federal government's $300-billion campaign to eradicate drug use over the last 15 years has been a total failure, Gray calls for legalization of drugs and government regulation of their sale, with doctors writing prescriptions to addicts. Although he scants specifics as to how this would work and the potential consequences, his outspoken brief for decriminalization is bolstered by a revealing history of drug use in America.

A Hollywood screenwriter, TV producer and director, Gray brings a filmic sense of drama and action to a gritty, scorching look at the failure of America s war on drugs.

As he jump-cuts from Al Capone's syndicate in Prohibition-era Chicago to the abortive Reagan/Bush campaign to control Latin American drug traffic, Gray maintains that hardcore addicts, a small minority of drug users, have served as a scapegoat for politicians and lawmakers, with the nation s moral focus selectively shifting from opium and morphine in the first two decades of this century, to alcohol, then to marijuana in the early 1930s, to crack cocaine today. It would seem that if Americans are to have any say a t all in what their teenagers are exposed to, he concludes, they will have to take the drug market out of the hands of the Tijuana Cartel and Gangster Disciples, and put it back in the hands of doctors and pharmacists where it was before 1914.

(THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS,  reviewed by Bob Ramsey)

One of these days somebody is going to make a lot of money writing a book about the drug war.

When that happens will depend as much on the public's readiness as on quality writing. Mike Gray's "Drug Crazy" is good enough to be the one.

Gray's style is an easy read. It's refreshing to see someone who has written a successful movie (China Syndrome) take facts and spin them into an emotive yarn. From the opening chapter "Chicago: 1995/1925", I was taken in by his skillful sequencing. He describes the present, then goes back to alcohol prohibition and tells the same story with similar developments based on identical incentives. He ties back with the 'chilling similarity' of how Chicago's neighborhood character is the same in both decades, just with different drugs and different (young) faces.

The author almost resists editorializing, but about three times in the book he inserts a message that prohibition is destroying our social fabric. In his treatment of present-day Chicago, he describes frustrated cops returning from a fruitless bust who roust the first group of black kids they see walking down the street. After insulting them profusely, knocking them around and strip-searching a few, one policeman asks a reporter in a tone of mock-academia, "So what do you think the long-term sociological implications of this shit will be?"

Chapters are devoted to basic elements of the drug issue- history of U.S. drug laws, the flow of contraband... all revolving around the overwhelming torrents of money. The alternatives he presents are focused on cutting off the money, justified with facts like- the rate of heroin addiction has always been three people per thousand no matter what the policy toward it.

Gray interweaves self-contained stories illustrating the progression of the drug business. The downfall of Colombia proceeds from the kidnapping of a dealer's daughter that united Colombia's traffickers into a cartel, through thousands of murders including all anti-cartel Supreme Court members, until the last incorruptible Colombian Justice Minister gathered her family and disappeared into a U.S. witness protection program.

His account of Mexico drives home the wave of violence and corruption that is moving north like killer bees. Prospects for stopping it are grim since "the income of the drug barons is greater than the American defense budget." Victory is so remote that "After a seventy-year battle against illegal narcotics, it is now possible to walk out the door of the White House and do a drug deal across the street."

Gray approaches prohibition's alternatives by describing what other countries have tried. His centerpiece of the "British System" is the story of Maureen, an Irish woman in her mid-thirties "who could easily be taken for a businesswoman or a teacher." Heroin addiction had cast her and her three children into dire circumstances. The British practice of heroin maintenance changed her life instantly, and Gray portrays her experience in terms that ring gut-level true.

When a pharmacist filled her first heroin prescription: "an odd sensation washed over her.... For the first time in memory, she had a tiny bit of brain space that wasn't focused on the next fix....

She didn't have to figure out who to con, how to get the cash, what to do if she got busted....

....as she turned away, she got a glimpse of her reflection in the glass and for the first time in ten years she stopped to take a serious look.... Then she glanced down at her children, and she said, 'Oh, my God.'

The morality that had been instilled in her as a child suddenly came flooding back."

Gray closes by noting that drug policy is the first area to be dramatically affected by easy information access on the internet, and he appends an annotated list of internet addresses. For the first time in 80 years of drug prohibition, people with access to all sides of the discussion can inform themselves. Gray's very readable book is a good start.

Gray brings a filmic sense of drama and action to a gritty, scorching look at the failure of America's war on drugs."

"Argued eloquently and persuasively deserves a hearing."

Kirkus Reviews

"A brilliant marriage of the novelist's vision with the historian's research and documentation."

Eric Sterling, Newsbriefs

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Updated: 8 Apr 2005 | Accessed: 592872 times