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The beginning of the end of prohibition: the politics of drug addiction

  • Jason Luty
  • Please note an addendum has been issued for this article.

Summary

Misuse of drugs such as opium, cocaine and cannabis was common around the world before the First World War and it provided a valuable market for the colonial powers. There seems to have been a brief period of sobriety between the two World Wars, along with widespread criminalisation of drug dealing and use, followed by an explosion of the illicit drug market and the hugely expensive US-led ‘war on drugs'. The cost and impracticality of drug criminalisation, together with changes in Western public opinion, mean that cannabis legalisation has very recently been accepted in some countries and drug prohibition is being dismantled.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Jason Luty, Borders Addiction Service, The Range, Tweed Road, Galashiels TD1 3EB, Scotland. Email: jason.luty@yahoo.co.uk

Footnotes

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LEARNING OBJECTIVES

• Recognise that public opinion and political pressures both created, and now oppose, drug prohibition

• Recognise that drug policy is determined primarily by public opinion rather than scientific evidence, especially that legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) are much greater public health problems than illicit drugs

• Understand that drug prohibition could not succeed without demand reduction as well as supply restriction

DECLARATION OF INTEREST

None

Footnotes

References

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The beginning of the end of prohibition: the politics of drug addiction

  • Jason Luty
  • Please note an addendum has been issued for this article.
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