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Licit and Illicit Drugs, Edward M. Brecher and the Publishers of Consumer Reports

Cover of Licit and Illicit DrugsLicit and Illicit Drugs is a very important book of the 1960’s and 1970’s (even beyond) with regards to educating people about drugs, the history of drugs, and drug policy. Why? Mainly because it’s easy to read and approaches the subject with objectivity, compassion, and balance.

As you can tell from this introduction, I hold the book in high regard, but I do not like the lack of emphasis on legalization. Decriminalization is mentioned as an alternative, but since the book is principally about drugs Brecher does not go into detail about the multitude of others horrors decriminalization will not remove. But he does touch on the benefits of a completely above-ground system, i.e. legalization, but in my opinion he doesn’t mention that enough.

Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports categorized drugs in a logical manner, by pharmacological effect on the body and mind, not by some arbitrary, subjective, and Orwellian-titled approach. They also, quite wisely, decided to include information on licit drugs as well.

Licit and Illicit Drugs is such a groundbreaking book that the Drug Policy Alliance honors it by naming one of their biennial awards after it, “The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media.”

For the time being I can’t write more but you really need to read this book. Here are a few ways:

1. Buy a hard copy from Use that link and LEAP will gain some financial support from the sale.

2. Read it online as webpages at

3. Building on Mr. Cliff Shaffer’s enormous work at I loaded every webpage and chapter into a word processor, cleaned it up some, scanned the graphics at a higher resolution, fixed a bunch of typos introduced by the OCR software, created a bunch of intra-document links, and exported it as an ePub file and PDF. (See link below.)

The ePub file format can be read on many mobile devices, the iPad, iPhone, and Kindle, to name a few.

This book is so important and has such great examples it will be featured from time to time; excerpts will be published and promoted.  Fortunately the style is easy to read and there are plenty of citations for you to use and look up if you don’t trust his word.