Book Chronicles Changes in Federal Drug Policy During the Administrations of Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter

Research for publication on the history of drug policy from 1960 to 1990
    • May 9, 2008

From 1991 to 1997, David F. Musto, MD, professor of the history of medicine and child psychiatry at the Child Study Center at Yale University, along with co-author Pamela Korsmeyer, conducted research for a book entitled The Quest for Drug Control: Politics and Federal Policy in a Period of Increasing Substance Abuse, 1963–1981.

The book provides a close look at the politics and bureaucracy of drug-control policy during those years, showing how they changed during the presidencies of Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter and how much current federal drug-control policies owe to those earlier efforts.

Key Results

  • To develop the book, Musto and Korsmeyer conducted historical research, writing and editing supported by archiving, filing, data entry and related organizational tasks. The entire activity was carried out as follows:

    • An initial period of about six months devoted to reading and extracting the principal published works on the history of narcotics and related social and political issues between 1963 and 1981.
    • Setting up databases and archives to accommodate a very large bibliography of articles, books and newspaper clippings.
    • Intensive focus-entailing collection and analysis of materials-on the formative period in the history of drug use and control policy, 1968–1973.
    • Twenty-two interviews of major and minor figures involved in federal drug policy development and administration during the period.
  • Yale University Press published The Quest for Drug Control: Politics and Federal Policy in a Period of Increasing Substance Abuse, 1963–1981, in 2002. The book is accompanied by a searchable CD-ROM including some 5,000 pages of White House documents from the period, covering the intense debates that took place over drug policy.