ABSTRACT

Though there is widespread belief that drug abuse is related to felony crime, precise linkages have not yet been established, in some measure because prospective linkages have been studied not only through the variant methods of social and “hard” science, but also because the methods of biochemical laboratory assay developed to detect the presence of drugs in the physical system have become more technologically discerning. Representative studies from the social sciences, relying on the self-reports of convicted felons, and from the “hard” sciences, utilizing “more” and “less” sensitive methods of laboratory assay, yield data that propose, at the extremes, that one of every six or one of every two felonies is at the least “lubricated” by drug use or abuse. But there is insufficient evidence as yet to conclude to the differential effects of specific substances with known biochemical properties that produce particular biochemical effects on the acceleration of particular types of felony crime. In future inquiry to establish such precise links, biochemistry and neuropsychopharmacology will take the lead. Largely as a result of the introduction of wide-scale drug testing of worker populations, increased attention has been engendered among biomedical scientists about “bandwidth fidelity” issues in the detection of controlled dangerous substances. Adoption in several states of “pathological intoxication” laws endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and the burgeoning of the “designer drug” industry combine to produce a forensic Wonderland.