‘You Can’t Fool the P Test’: American Science, the Department of Defense, and the Unlikely Invention of the War on Drugs, 1945-1980
Hubbard, Justin Wade
The following dissertation examines how the US Army created and utilized new technologies to address the problem of heroin abuse in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It tracks the creation and implementation of urine drug testing, narcotics-detector dogs, methadone detox and in-patient rehab, and a handful of information technologies, including drug-use surveys and crime-data processing. There are three arguments. First, the military’s role in influencing and predicting new trends in drug control goes much earlier and deeper than “Vietnam, 1971,” as others have supposed, and that interest was also rooted in a midcentury optimism about the potential of defense research to improve the military and American society writ large. Second, the solutions that the military created and the technologies that its members deployed shaped the imaginations of anti-drug proponents about the boundaries of what was possible or justifiable vis a vis drug control and science, and imposed limitations on the same. Third, despite the promise of new technologies to expand drug war and disparate cases of success therein, social, political, and technical conflicts constantly undercut their use, leaving the record of the military’s influence on drug control more technically, ethically, and politically ambiguous than we have supposed.