Ethics Conference Explores ?Drugged America?

Social and moral concerns over whether the United States has become a “Drugged America” will be addressed April 17-18 at Cal Poly Pomona's annual ethics conference.

The free ethics conference will explore key issues surrounding the use and regulation of legal and illegal drugs. Topics include the use of legal drugs by children and adolescents; the influence of “Big Pharma”; the war on drugs and drug politics; drugs and crime; drugs and health care justice; the morality of drug use and addiction; drug safety and regulation; and the boundary between legal and illegal substances.

Most events are scheduled in the CLA Building, 8th floor Heritage Conference Room, except the Martin Y. Iguchi discussion at the Downtown Center, 300 W. Second St. in Downtown Pomona.


Monday, April 17

9:15 a.m. — Welcome

9:30 a.m. — Rutgers University professor Douglas Husak, Five Points

about Drug Decriminalization”

11:15 a.m. — Ty C. Colbert, founder of the Center for Psychological Alternatives to Biopsychiatry, “Psychiatric Drugs, Good or Bad: How Do We Decide?”

2:30 p.m. — UCLA professor Martin Y. Iguchi's on “How Criminalizing Drug Use Contributes to Minority” (Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center)

4 p.m. — Reception (Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center)

Tuesday, April 18

9:30 a.m.–Welcome

9:45 a.m. — UC Santa Cruz professor Eva Bertram, “The Politics of the War on Drugs”

1 p.m. — UCLA associate research psychologist Sara L. Simon, “Ethical Issues in Substance Abuse: Arguments from Cognitive Science”

2:45 p.m. — Closing roundtable

Conference organizers arrived at this year's theme after seeing major developments in drug use and regulation. They added that at the onset of the 21st century, many signs suggest that the United States is rapidly transforming into a “Drugged America,” including:

  • Over 300,000 Americans are in prison for violating state or federal drug laws.
  • The Medicare drug benefit passed by Congress in 2003 may cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade.   
  • The number of high school students who acquire Ritalin, Adderall and similar stimulants illegally is believed to be greater than the number who receive it with a doctor's prescription.   
  • In 2002, the combined profits of the 10 drug companies listed on the Fortune 500 were greater than the profits of the other 490 companies combined.   
  • Since 1990, major drug companies have spent about twice as much on marketing and administration than on research and development.   
  • The estimated annual market for illegal drugs in the U.S. is $60 billion.   

The annual ethics conference is sponsored by the university's Institute for Ethics and Public Policy. All sessions are free and open to the public.

For more information, call the Institute of Ethics and Public Policy in the Philosophy department at (909) 869-4766 or visit