Gary L. Fisher Calls for Change with New Book "Rethinking Our War on Drugs"

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With drug abuse and addiction persisting, Gary L. Fisher has released Rethinking Our War on Drugs: Candid Talk About Controversial Issues (Praeger Publishing).

It’s time for those of us who have been involved in the 'War on Drugs' to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes

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The domestic agenda for the new Democratic majority includes an increase in the minimum wage, middle class tax cuts, and prescription drug benefit reform. No one in the leadership has mentioned our longest running and most ignored war, the War on Drugs.

"It’s time for those of us who have been involved in the 'War on Drugs' to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes," charges Gary L. Fisher. (

Fisher was involved in the implementation of parts of the National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) for over 12 years. In his new book Rethinking Our War on Drugs: Candid Talk About Controversial Issues (Praeger Publishing), Fisher challenges the premises of the current NDCS and examines both Democratic and Republican administrations across the last 10 years. Despite spending nearly $145 billion during that time, there has been no reduction in the availability of marijuana or the other major illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, in our country.

In fact, a recent study showed U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined.

And the White House recently issued a report titled, “Pushing Back Against Meth” which shows that methamphetamine has been “pushed” from the West and Midwest to the East Coast, with surges in workplace use. News agencies are reporting on the rise in “robotripping”, a new way for adolescents to get high by drinking large amounts of over-the-counter cough syrup.

“A dramatic change in strategy is needed and will require creativity, political courage, and innovation. The tremendous problems caused by drug abuse and addiction have not changed. The methods to deal with these problems must. Therefore, leaders must be encouraged to propose solutions that may be controversial but may also help to reduce the harm resulting from our current failed policies,” Fisher asserts.

In Rethinking Our War on Drugs, he discusses controversial topics and defends uncommon approaches in chapters focused on subjects including legalization, harm reduction, the futility of supply reduction, the problem of underage drinking and effectiveness of treatment and prevention.

Fisher proposes a new national policy for drug control, including elimination of the war metaphor, inclusion of alcohol in the mandate, conceptualization of addiction as a public health problem, utilization of harm reduction principles to guide policy and discontinuation of approaches that isolate drug and alcohol problems from their connection to broader social issues such as poverty.


Gary L. Fisher is Founder and was the first Director at the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies at the University of Nevada, Reno. A former Professor of Counseling and Educational Psychology, he is the author of a textbook on substance abuse counseling that is now in its third edition. Fisher's career has spanned 31 years and includes work as a private practice clinician and in public schools as a psychologist. The center he directed in Reno provides drug and alcohol counselors and prevention specialists with state-of-the-art training. Visit his blog at


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