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(p. 825) 36. Principles, pragmatism, and prohibition: explaining continuity and change in british drug policy 

(p. 825) 36. Principles, pragmatism, and prohibition: explaining continuity and change in british drug policy
Chapter:
(p. 825) 36. Principles, pragmatism, and prohibition: explaining continuity and change in british drug policy
Author(s):

Alex Stevens

DOI:
10.1093/he/9780198719441.003.0037
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date: 12 November 2019

This chapter analyses the development of British policy on illicit drugs from the late nineteenth century until 2016. It shows how this is characterized by contestation between social groups who have an interest in the control and regulation of some drugs and their users. It argues that there is a ‘medico-penal constellation’ of powerful organizations that produce British drug policy in accordance with their own ideas and interest. There have been clashes between the different principles held by people within these organizations but these have often been dealt with through the creation of pragmatic compromises. Recent examples include policies towards ‘recovery’ in drug treatment and new psychoactive substances whilst heroin-related deaths are used to explain why, so far, these pragmatic compromises have not ended the prohibition upon which British drug policy is based.

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