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Drug Policy: Prohibition, Decriminalization, Legalization

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Drug Policy: Prohibition, Decriminalization, Legalization. Lecture 10. What to Expect in This Lecture. Defining prohibition, legalization and decriminalization Class discussion on pros and cons of approaches to drug policy

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what to expect in this lecture
What to Expect in This Lecture
  • Defining prohibition, legalization and decriminalization
  • Class discussion on pros and cons of approaches to drug policy
  • Introduction of “harm reduction” as an alternative approach to drug policy
  • Class discussion of what a “harm reduction” policy might look like
prohibition
Prohibition
  • General policy orientation that defines cultivation, production, distribution and possession of substances as criminal
  • Involves enforcement of laws at five levels:
    • Source reduction
    • Border interdiction
    • Disruption of high-level distribution networks (federal level)
    • Disruption of wholesale distribution networks (state level)
    • Disruption of retail distribution networks (state and local levels)
legalization
Legalization
  • A general policy orientation that involves the lifting of all criminal and civil proscriptions and sanctions
  • Three separate policy options:
    • Laissez Faire Model
    • Limited Distribution Model
    • Medical Model
decriminalization
Decriminalization
  • Similar to legalization, but with unique features
  • Is not simply a “compromise” between legalization and prohibition
  • Policy that removes criminal sanctions for small amounts of marijuana
  • Nevertheless, growing or possessing marijuana is not legal—it is simply a civil offense rather than a criminal offense
  • Currently, 12 states have some form of marijuana decriminalization legislation (see table 11.1)
class discussion debating drug policy
Class Discussion:Debating Drug Policy
  • What are the advantages of:
    • Prohibition?
    • Legalization?
    • Decriminalization?
  • What are the disadvantages of each of these policies?
  • Based on these advantages and disadvantages, how might we approach drug policy for the 21st century
harm reduction a policy alternative
Harm Reduction:A Policy Alternative
  • Harm reductionis a general policy orientation that shifts focus away from legal status of drugs to policies and practices that would reduce harm caused by drugs and drug policies
  • Based on the following premises:
    • Drug use will never be totally eliminated
    • Drug policies are sometimes more damaging than drug use
    • Risks of drug use should be weighed against the risks posed by drug policies
harm reduction a viable policy approach
Harm Reduction:A Viable Policy Approach?
  • Discuss the appropriateness of the following harm reduction strategies:
    • Drug Education
    • Needle Exchange Programs
    • Drug Use Zones
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