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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2012

Caroline Chatwin

In a recent article in the pages of this journal, the author outlined the hypothesis that, although there have been recent evolutions in European governance effected by…

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Abstract

Purpose

In a recent article in the pages of this journal, the author outlined the hypothesis that, although there have been recent evolutions in European governance effected by the Lisbon treaty, these changes have not brought about any convergence in the national drug policies of European member states. The original article focused on developments in the national drug policies of key member states and based the assessment on their maintenance of key, and significantly different, national policy aims. Standring, in this edition, has offered a critique of that article suggesting that the author has been overly pessimistic in her understanding of the nature of drug policy integration at the European level and that soft integration tools have allowed a high degree of policy convergence in this controversial area. This paper aims to strengthen and confirm the author's position by examining the tools of European drug policy integration.

Design/methodology/approach

Key policy strategies (for example, the European Drug Strategy and Action Plans, European level anti‐drug trafficking frameworks and recent implementations on newly developed psychoactive substances at the European level) are examined here for indications of success or otherwise in the harmonisation (or convergence) of European national drug policies.

Findings

Ultimately, even under these new terms of reference, the paper finds that attempts to either harmonise or converge European national drug policies have done little more than scratch the surface.

Originality/value

The paper suggests that neither the top‐down regulation, here described, nor the soft convergence that Standring envisages are desirable for European drug policy making where they are implemented with the aim of making national drug policies more similar.

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2012

Pien Metaal

This article aims to give some background information about the debate around drug policies in Latin America and to provide a view on a possible future direction of the…

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216

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to give some background information about the debate around drug policies in Latin America and to provide a view on a possible future direction of the developing debate.

Design/methodology/approach

Recently increasing signs coming from the highest political level indicate that current strategies are perceived as failed, and incentives for a debate on alternatives to prohibition should be discussed. The article reflects on the origin and conditions in which this debate is taking place, and the ideas, options and projection into the political institutions that are designed for that purpose. The article describes the process using existing and new materials and insights produced by scholars and participants in the Latin American drug policy debate.

Findings

The article finds that the impetus given to the drug policy reform debate has now reached a level, that it can no longer be avoided to talk openly at the highest political level, about alternatives to current drug policy strategies, based mainly on prohibition.

Originality/value

The article connects recent drug policy debates into a historical perspective, and helps to underscore the need for these reforms, as a solution for the problems faced by Latin American countries, such as increased levels of violence related to the drugs market.

Details

Drugs and Alcohol Today, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1745-9265

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2018

Frank Zobel and Larissa J. Maier

The Swiss drug policy once was very progressive in the 1990s when the harm related to drug use was most visible to the public. Failure of repression opened the room for…

Abstract

The Swiss drug policy once was very progressive in the 1990s when the harm related to drug use was most visible to the public. Failure of repression opened the room for more innovative harm reduction approaches. In 2008, the four-pillar model including the legal basis for substitution and heroin-assisted treatment of opioid use disorders as well as for other harm reduction facilities was approved by the population that had learned about the success of these measures. Less violence, better health outcomes among people who use drugs and less stigma supported the change of attitudes in the population towards a public health-based approach when dealing with drug use. Switzerland first received heavy criticism for the autonomous policy change at the international level while it is nowadays often cited as best practice example for dealing with people with an opioid use disorder. Otherwise, the country has usually been quiet in drug policy discussions at the UN level. Nevertheless, Switzerland’s reappointment to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the central drug policy-making body within the United Nations for a period of four years starting in 2018 is promising, given their unblemished recommendation for human rights-based drug policies including the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences, among other things. Alongside cannabis policy changes at the international level, Switzerland witnessed an unexpected development in cannabis availability and sales. However, the country is still rather conservative with regard to current cannabis policies, although cannabis with less than 1% of THC can be sold legally and the possession of up to 10 g will be followed by a fine only, if at all. Switzerland is open to experiment with new regulations but only if the law allows for that. To conclude, the strong sense of connectedness with the international community may support Switzerland’s next steps towards public health and evidence-based harm reduction.

Details

Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-488-6

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2018

Jonas von Hoffmann

Both Bolivia and Uruguay broke ranks with the global drug prohibition regime by introducing novel drug policies. State control of the production and supply of coca and…

Abstract

Both Bolivia and Uruguay broke ranks with the global drug prohibition regime by introducing novel drug policies. State control of the production and supply of coca and cannabis represents a clear departure from both the spirit and the letter of the international drug conventions. Although, the rationale, processes and outcomes of policy change were distinctive in many regards, this chapter posits that there are conceptual resemblances. In both countries, the leadership of a charismatic and idiosyncratic president has to be considered. Furthermore, in both countries, mobilisation and activism were also decisive. Lastly, in both countries novel drug policy responded to specific problems that decision-makers faced. Approaching drug policy reforms in Bolivia and Uruguay in terms of personal leadership, mobilisation and policy problems provides a useful analytical first-cut to assess the continuity and change in drug policy observable elsewhere. Additionally, scrutinising the reasons and motivations for undertaking drug policy reform also allows to better understand each country’s behaviour on the international stage.

Details

Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-488-6

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2020

Summer Walker

This chapter explores the relationship between the global drug policy agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Development is one of the key…

Abstract

This chapter explores the relationship between the global drug policy agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Development is one of the key pillars of the UN's charter; however, sustainable development and drug policy have existed in separate policy spaces for decades. During 2015 and 2016, two parallel processes took place at the UN – the adoption of the 2015 SDGs, superseding the Millennium Development Goals, and the 2016 UN Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS), a global convening of countries to create a way forward to address illicit drugs. This chapter explores how a group of reform-oriented countries, UN agencies and civil society stakeholders used the UNGASS to advocate for better policy alignment with development principles. While some headway was made, tensions remain about allowing a development approach into the drug policy realm. This chapter argues that given strong pushback to maintain a law enforcement-driven agenda by many countries, better alignment will not happen without more clarity on what sustainable development–driven drug policy is and without champions to push these ideas in the drug policy arena.

Details

The Emerald Handbook of Crime, Justice and Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-355-5

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2012

Adam Standring

A response to Chatwin's article (2010), which argues that European harmonisation of illicit drug policies remains far from realisation, this paper seeks to recommend…

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Abstract

Purpose

A response to Chatwin's article (2010), which argues that European harmonisation of illicit drug policies remains far from realisation, this paper seeks to recommend developing a more specific conceptualisation of European integration in the area of illicit drugs and argues that harmonisation was not a realistic aim of the European Union (EU).

Design/methodology/approach

This is a review paper which seeks to advocate the application of a more rigid analytical framework in drug policy analysis that takes into account the “soft” methods of governance used by the EU. The paper also uses secondary data sources to emphasise the argument.

Findings

Domestic convergence has been observed across a number of policy areas.

Research limitations/implications

The nature and level of convergence remains contested and more data are needed to clarify any trends. Future research would be necessary to demonstrate that convergence occurs as a result of EU action rather than other factors.

Originality/value

There remains little in the way of research on the processes of European integration and their specific impact on drug policy at the European and domestic level. This paper will be of value to scholars in the field of European integration who are seeking to expand their research into a new policy sector, as well as researchers in the drug field who are looking for a more formal analytical framework.

Details

Drugs and Alcohol Today, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1745-9265

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2008

Vibeke Frank

In the course of the 2000s Denmark has experienced a shift in drug policy in general and of cannabis policy in particular. Danish drug policy used to be known as liberal…

Abstract

In the course of the 2000s Denmark has experienced a shift in drug policy in general and of cannabis policy in particular. Danish drug policy used to be known as liberal, but is now saturated with ‘zero‐tolerance’ and ‘tough on crimes’ rhetoric. What happened, and what have the consequences been? This article describes recent changes, focusing on the closing of Pusher Street in Christiania, Copenhagen, one of northern Europe's largest open cannabis markets. This most spectacular outcome can also be seen as a conquered symbol of a former liberal ‐ and for many too lenient ‐ drug policy.

Details

Drugs and Alcohol Today, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1745-9265

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Article
Publication date: 18 October 2010

Caroline Chatwin

In Britain, the last two decades have seen a considerable increase in focus on service users' involvement in the provision of services that directly affect them…

Abstract

In Britain, the last two decades have seen a considerable increase in focus on service users' involvement in the provision of services that directly affect them, particularly where service users originate from a hard to reach population such as drug users. While the National Treatment Agency and drug and alcohol action teams often extol the virtues of the involvement of drug users in their service provision, participation of this type does not come without problems of its own. Experience of drug user involvement in service provision is much more established in Europe and this article seeks to utilise European examples in illustrating the potential pitfalls of such a strategy. Case studies are examined from three countries: the Netherlands, where drug policy is relatively liberal and drug user groups have been established since the 1970s; Denmark, where drug policy is fairly well balanced between repression and tolerance and drug user groups have been established since the 1990s; and Sweden, where drug policy is relatively repressive and drug user groups are only just emerging. Salient points from these case studies are then used to form the discussion, relating European experiences to the situation in Britain.

Details

Safer Communities, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

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Article
Publication date: 7 December 2015

Bagga Bjerge, Karen Duke and Vibeke Asmussen Frank

The purpose of this paper is to examine the shifting roles of medical professionals as stakeholders in opioid substitution treatment (OST) policies and practices in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the shifting roles of medical professionals as stakeholders in opioid substitution treatment (OST) policies and practices in Denmark and the UK within the past 15 years.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on literature reviews, documentary analyses and key informant interviews with a range of stakeholders involved in OST and policy in Denmark and UK. The study is part of the EU-funded project: Addictions and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe: Reframing Addictions Project.

Findings

Denmark and the UK are amongst those few European countries that have long traditions and elaborate systems for providing OST to heroin users. The UK has a history of dominance of medical professionals in drugs treatment, although this has been recently challenged by the recovery movement. In Denmark, a social problem approach has historically dominated the field, but a recent trend towards medicalisation can be traced. As in all kinds of policy changes, multiple factors are at play when shifts occur. We examine how both countries’ developments around drugs treatment policy and practice relate to broader societal, economic and political changes, how such divergent developments emerge and how medical professionals as stakeholders enhanced their roles as experts in the field through a variety of tactics, including the production and use of “evidence”, which became a key tool to promote specific stakeholder’s perspectives in these processes.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to current policy and practice debates by providing comparative analyses of drug policies and examination of stakeholder influences on policy processes.

Details

Drugs and Alcohol Today, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1745-9265

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2018

Maziyar Ghiabi

States in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have historically leaned towards conservative, reactionary models of drugs policy. The combination of authoritarian forms…

Abstract

States in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have historically leaned towards conservative, reactionary models of drugs policy. The combination of authoritarian forms of government, whether dynastic monarchies (Morocco, Jordan and Persian Gulf countries), semi-military republics (Syria, Egypt and Algeria) or religiously sanctioned republics (Iran), with the strong influence of Islamic law and norms, has signified that the region has enforced strict forms of drug prohibitions. For that matter, the region is home to cultural and social norms that are less permissive than in other regions of the world: for instance, with regard to premarital sex, homosexuality, clothing, alcoholic drinks and freedom of expression. This image of the MENA region is often overplayed by media commentators and Western scholars, especially in the field of drugs policy. The almost total absence of studies of drugs policy or drugs history in the MENA, excluding works in epidemiology, speaks well about the oblivion to which the region has been relegated over the last decades. The chapter provides first a background on the main questions regarding MENA drugs policy, looking at the historical developments in drug regulations and drug trends. Then, it discusses the current policies that operate across the region and, if pertinent, the prospects of policy development. When necessary, the argument refers to contextual elements that have influenced the direction in national and transitional drugs policy. Conscious of the fact that the MENA is as vast and diverse as a continent, I have opted to focus on three paradigmatic cases (Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia), which provide an adequate geographical and thematic coverage of the MENA drugs policy. The three cases cover different aspects of today’s MENA drugs policy spectrum, from draconian repressive measures to progressive harm reduction programmes. Taken in their geographical dimension one can appreciate the variety and difference that exists within the MENA region, therefore supporting one of the key objectives of this chapter, which is to provide a nuanced analysis of drugs policy against the grain of homogenising and culturally reductive approaches.

Details

Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From UNGASS 2016 to Review 2019
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-488-6

Keywords

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