Contemporary Drug Policy  book cover
1st Edition

Contemporary Drug Policy

ISBN 9780415635370
Published March 18, 2013 by Routledge
128 Pages

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Book Description

This book focuses on the use of drugs in our lives and how we respond to them. Whereas drug policy typically centres on the problems of illicit drugs or licit drugs used in illicit ways or circumstances, Contemporary Drug Policy instead considers the wide variety of substances we call drugs as a normal part of our personal and social experience and asks how and when drugs benefit us as well as how and when they are harmful.

The evidence is clear that at some times, in some circumstances, and in some places drugs are a problem. This book does not ignore these issues but shifts our attention to making policies that also recognize their legitimate and constructive place in society. It focuses on asking questions, challenging assumptions, and developing responses to drugs based on evidence from scientific study as directed by critical criminological theory rather than mainstream theory or unfounded assumptions.

Different from other books on drug policy, this book does not offer answers or solutions. Rather it shows how critical criminological theories can lead scientific research in new directions supportive of policies that offer both solutions to problems that are found to be related to drugs and an appreciation for the benefits that drugs can bring to people and society. This book will be of interest to those studying or researching drug policy as well as professionals involved in policy making processes.

Table of Contents

1. Informing and guiding drug policy,  2. The debate over control and regulation,  3. The debate over management,  4. The debate over value,  5. Case studies: the unintended consequences of ill-informed policies,  6. False issues, dubious solutions and the need for public discourse.

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Henry H. Brownstein is a Senior Fellow in the Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Criminal Justice Studies Department at NORC at the University of Chicago, USA. For almost 30 years he has been studying drug policy, drugs and crime, and drug markets. He has published several books and dozens of articles and book chapters on topics including drug policy, drugs and violence, drug markets, qualitative research methods, and the relationship between research and policy. He earned his PhD in sociology in 1977 from Temple University, USA.


This book highlights an original approach to the issue of drug policy and the author provides a necessary view on the topic that does not just consider the ‘war on drugs’ approach. Rather than focus on drugs as a problem or people involved with drugs as victims or beneficiaries, the author argues for a critical criminological theoretical approach that views drugs as a part of normal social experience. He argues for a realist approach to drug policy that views drugs in terms of how they can be part of society in ways that enhance rather than diminish the lives of all people. This book provides a valuable addition to an overview of such a worldwide problem and one that provides important new insights on drug policy.

Judith Grant, Professor of Political Science and Director of Women's & Gender Studies, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Canada.