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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (7th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 1848. Drug use, drug problems, drug control: A political economy perspectivelocked

p. 1848. Drug use, drug problems, drug control: A political economy perspectivelocked

  • Toby Seddon
  •  and Alex Stevens

Abstract

This chapter presents an overview of the phenomenon of illicit drugs and their control. We show that drugs are not just a matter of crime, morality, or health but rather are also a global commodity the use and control of which continue to run along lines shaped by inequalities of geography, wealth and power. Viewing the drug problem through the lens of political economy, and in global and historical perspective, provides a clearer view of the issue. It allows us to see how some facets of the problem are exaggerated (e.g. crime and health harms) whilst others are under-stated (e.g. pleasure, harms to producer countries in the Global South). It also sheds new light on why some policy approaches and interventions continue to fail and why others may be more promising. Lastly, the prospects for radical alternatives to prohibition through drug law reform are considered.

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