Book Review: Nancy E. Marion, Drug Policy and the Criminal Justice System

Published date01 June 2020
Date01 June 2020
Subject MatterBook Review
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2020, Vol. 31(5) 783 –788
© The Author(s) 2019
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Nancy E. Marion. (2018). Drug Policy and the Criminal Justice System. Durham, NC: Carolina
Academics Press. 397 pp. $48.00 paper. ISBN 9781611637786 (paper).
Reviewed by: Blair Fisher, Kathryn Witherow, and Nathan E. Kruis , Pennsylvania State
University, Altoona, PA, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0887403419864709
One word to describe Nancy Marion’s Drug Policy and the Criminal Justice System is
concise. Her work is unique in that she is able to effectively define types of drugs;
outline theories of substance use; analyze the history, laws, and politics surrounding
drug regulation; and discuss various treatment options for drug addiction, all in one
compact monograph geared toward assessing drugs in the context of the American
Criminal Justice System. Marion’s text is like a potpourri for the novice drug researcher.
Indeed, Marion’s skill as a writer is that she is able to cover a lot of ground quickly.
However, the nimble nature of Marion’s work will leave those desiring true academic
scrutiny of the subject matter craving more. We say this because, unfortunately, much
of the information presented by Marion needed to be further explored and supported
with scholarly research, and in many places, we all were left wanting.
To be fair in our assessment, though, let us start with the good. On the positive side,
we enjoyed the organization of the volume. The book features 12 brief chapters relat-
ing to the various topics in the realm of substance use and drug policy noted above.
Each chapter is roughly 20 pages long, starting with an overview and concluding with
a summary. Key terms are defined in-text and then noted again at the end of the chap-
ter. Marion also provides a handful of discussion questions at the end of every chapter
to further stimulate critical thinking. Overall, we found the writing to be smooth, infor-
mative, and easy to read. In fact, being such a simple read, this book seems most
appropriate for a novice audience and would be best suited as an auxiliary text for an
undergraduate introductory course on drug policy and substance use.
As with many books, some chapters are better than others. We want to be clear that
this is not necessarily a criticism of Marion’s work in any way, but rather, a conscious
reflection of the broad scope of the text. Invariably, when one attempts to explore
every possible component of a subject matter as diverse as drug policy, certain areas
may appear to some readers as being more developed, and interesting, than other chap-
ters. Consider, Chapter 7, The Politics of Drug Use: Presidents. This chapter provides
a broad overview of every presidents’—from President Lincoln to President Clinton—
attitude toward drugs and describes presidential committees and their reports on topics
864709CJPXXX10.1177/0887403419864709Criminal Justice Policy ReviewBook Review

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