‘Meet the Author’ with Dave Finch
February 19, 2018
Local author and retired lawyer, Dave Finch has published a second edition of his book, "Kill the Drug Trade: Ending the War on Drugs in a System of Toleration, Counseling and Control." We caught up with Finch and threw a few questions at him about his life and his updated book.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A native Californian, I grew up in the Central Valley. Following law school at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, I began my law practice in San Jose, the center of a 40-year law practice in which I received the coveted Martindale Hubbell "A rating."
In the later years I included mediation services and continued that after moving to Grass Valley, in 2001. Here I became the founding president of the Conflict Resolution Center of Nevada County. The Center serves the Superior Court in small claims and landlord/tenant disputes.
I also served a term as president of the Nevada County Bar Association. I live in Lake Wildwood with Nancy, my wife and partner of 50 years.
What brought you this area?
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Our family has enjoyed the Sierra Nevada's for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer from the time our boys were very small. I helped develop the Tahoe Rim Trail and they gave me their top award.
When Silicon Valley developed into what we saw as a user-unfriendly place with its population density and traffic congestion, we decided it was time to indulge our love of trees and trails — and found a home here.
How did you get into writing?
As a lawyer I necessarily did a lot of it. I enjoyed that part of my work and, in retirement, thought I'd like to try writing on other subjects. Also, I had long believed the nation's attempt to control drugs in society through the criminal justice system was a huge mistake.
With time to do a great deal of reading, I discovered great gobs of literature supporting the need for a different approach to drugs. I decided to write about what I found and a radical idea for reform took shape.
In addition to my book I maintain an active blog site at finchdiablog.com.
What is your favorite book or who is your favorite author?
For fiction, it's the late Patrick O'Brian who wrote the 20 novels called the "Aubrey-Maturin" series. I read them all — twice. Non-fiction: Ron Chernow's biographies of Washington, Hamilton and Grant.
What is your book about?
The new edition updates my earlier publication. It's about a new paradigm for a way to prevent access to drugs by teens and preteens among whom a probable 90 percent of all addictions begin, according to the Center for Drug Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University.
It surveys the many harms caused by our criminal justice method of curtailing drug use, harms the Global Commission on Drug Policy found are "devastating" to communities and individuals worldwide. It reviews the arguments for legalization (commercialization) and decriminalization and argues these ideas are flawed for failing to protect the young.
A chapter on the prevention and treatment of addiction shows how allowing adult use in a controlled way, would also bring those addicted into the fold of a caring community, setting them on a healthier life pathway.
The book details the comprehensive system I propose for dispensing drugs under FDA scrutiny, subject to counseling and controls for protecting minors, to drive the illegal dealers, gangs and cartels out of our communities. Endnotes cite my sources so the reader can follow up.
A preview of the book is at my blog site: finchdiablog.com.
What inspired you to write this book?
As noted, I believe existing drug policy is a failure. I thought there had to be a better way. My experience as a dispute mediator taught me that between two opposing positions there is nearly always a workable compromise. I set out to find one for drugs.
What do you find most challenging about writing a book?
Making non-fiction text accessible and enjoyable for the reader — realizing the readers' life experiences are different than yours and that they will not "get it" unless you take care to be very clear and illustrative in what you are saying.
It's relatively easy to form sentences on paper, but writers, especially lawyers, need to work at expanding their own familiar ways of thinking and verbalizing to be sure they are not leaving the reader in the weeds.
What is your key takeaway or message you hope readers find in your book?
I hope readers will find from the data and science presented that the toleration of adult drug use, done with special methods of distribution and controls against leakage into the hands of minors, is not far-fetched, but can promote both sobriety and reduced drug use.
I also hope they will see how the proposed reform makes it possible to do this without fear of increased societal problems, while replacing the punishment methods that damage so many education and work careers.
Incidentally, I have enormous respect for our drug courts and the work they do, but their resources are limited and the threat of punishment to promote addiction recovery, I argue, can actually work against it.
Where can people find your book?
Online through all the well-known outlets in print and a Kindle edition at Amazon. Local book sellers can order it for customers from Amazon. Readers can also contact me through my blog site: finchdiablog.com.
How would you describe your own perfect day?
I can't imagine a "perfect" day, but a really good one accomplishes what you set out to do. Mine involves arising at 5:30 a.m. and writing for two hours before breakfast and newspapers — classical music radio — followed by an hour or two of pickleball (we have an active club at Lake Wildwood) and then more writing for two or three hours.
Home and garden chores get done, along with a brief nap in the afternoon. Then I join with my wife for the rest of the day: an hour of recreational reading — usually with a cocktail and jazz music — at 4:30 p.m., microwave popcorn and TV News promptly at 5:30 p.m. and Masterpiece Theater or the like after dinner. Almost perfect.