David Pozen & Maia Szalavitz on The Constitution of the War on Drugs


Past Event

David Pozen & Maia Szalavitz on The Constitution of the War on Drugs

April 1, 2024
12:10 PM - 1:10 PM
Jerome Greene Hall, 435 W. 116 St., New York, NY 10027 104

Please join the Center for Constitutional Governance for a discussion with Professor David Pozen, author of The Constitution of the War on Drugs, and leading neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz.

The U.S. government's decades-long "war on drugs" is increasingly recognized as a moral travesty as well as a policy failure. The criminalization of substances such as marijuana and magic mushrooms offends core tenets of liberalism, from the right to self-rule to protection of privacy to freedom of religion. It contributes to mass incarceration and racial subordination. And it costs billions of dollars per year--all without advancing public health. Yet, in hundreds upon hundreds of cases, courts have allowed the war to proceed virtually unchecked. How could a set of policies so draconian, destructive, and discriminatory escape constitutional curtailment? In The Constitution of the War on Drugs, David Pozen provides an authoritative, critical constitutional history of the drug war, casting new light on both drug prohibition and U.S. constitutional development. 

Rather than restrain the drug war, the Constitution helped to legitimate and entrench it. Pozen shows how a profoundly illiberal and paternalistic policy regime was assimilated into, and came to shape, an ostensibly liberal and pluralistic constitutional order. Placing the U.S. jurisprudence in comparative context, The Constitution of the War on Drugs offers a comprehensive review of drug-rights decisions along with a roadmap to constitutional reform options available today.

David Pozen is the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. Pozen teaches and writes about constitutional law, information law, and nonprofit law, among other topics. 

Maia Szalavitz is a neuroscience journalist who covers drugs, addiction, and public policy. She is the author of Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction, and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

Lunch will be provided for registered guests. 

Contact Information

Katelin Walsch