1) What does the author mean by the term “drug apartheid” (do not simply copy/past the definition – explain fully in your own words)?

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For this activity, read the article, “Prohibition, Privilege and the Drug Apartheid: The Failure of Drug Policy Reform to Address the Underlying Fallacies of Drug Prohibition” and type answers to the following five essay questions in the available spaces. Due Sunday April 18th before 11pm

The questions to prepare your answers for are as follows:

1) What does the author mean by the term “drug apartheid” (do not simply copy/past the definition – explain fully in your own words)?

2) In general, how does this article relate to or demonstrate evaluation research?

3) In general, how does this article relate to or demonstrate comparative research?

4) In your own words, summarize the authors’ main argument(s).

5) How do you personally feel about the authors’ main argument(s), and how do they compare to what you have previously learned/believe about drugs and drug prohibition?



633274 research-article2016 CRJ0010.1177/1748895816633274Criminology & Criminal JusticeTaylor et al. Article Prohibition, privilege and the drug apartheid: The failure of drug policy reform to address the underlying fallacies of drug prohibition Criminology & Criminal Justice 2016, Vol. 16(4) 452­–469 © The Author(s) 2016 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1748895816633274 crj.sagepub.com Stuart Taylor Liverpool John Moores University, UK Julian Buchanan Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Tammy Ayres University of Leicester, UK Abstract It appears to be a time of turbulence within the global drug policy landscape. The historically dominant model of drug prohibition endures, yet a number of alternative models of legalization, decriminalization and regulation are emerging across the world. While critics have asserted that prohibition and the ensuing ‘war on drugs’ lack both an evidence base and legitimacy, reformers are embracing these alternatives as indicators of progressive change. This article, however, argues that such reforms adhere to the same arbitrary notions, moral dogma and fallacious evidence base as their predecessor. As such they represent the ‘metamorphosis of prohibition’, whereby the structure of drug policy changes, yet the underpinning principles remain unchanged. Consequentially, these reforms should not be considered ‘progressive’ as they risk further consolidating the underlying inconsistencies and contradictions that have formed the basis of drug prohibition. Keywords Decriminalization, drug policy, evidence, legalization, prohibition, reform Corresponding author: Stuart Taylor, Liverpool John Moores University, Redmonds Building, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, L35UG, UK. Email: S.Taylor2@ljmu.ac.uk Taylor et al. 453 Introduction There is a transformative change in the global drugs policy landscape with significant adjustments to the historically dominant model of prohibition emerging, leading some commentators to suggest a ‘quiet revolution’ is taking place (Rosmarin and Eastwood, 2011). Policies of drug decriminalization, legalization and regulation are materializing in a number of jurisdictions around the world, a phenomenon welcomed by critics of prohibition who have long exposed its lack of evidence base (Boland, 2008), efficacy (GCDP, 2014) and legitimacy (Pryce, 2012). While a number of these reforms have been posited as ‘progressive’ (Transform, 2014), this article argues that they represent the ‘metamorphosis of prohibition’ whereby the face of drug policy changes yet the fundamental principles remain unaffected. Inadvertently this reform ‘revolution’ camouflages the underlying contradictions that have lain at the heart of global drug policy since they were enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. This article, therefore, seeks to expose how the fundamental inconsistencies of drug prohibition continue to be accommodated in policy reform. It will do so by exploring two interlinking issues; first it will identify the untenable flawed assumptions underpinning drug law enforcement and prohibition. It will contend that certain ‘fallacies’ used to legitimize drug prohibition lack an evidence base, and instead draw upon myth and a reductionist discourse that obscures nuanced drug policy debate. These fallacies arbitrarily frame particular substances as ‘drugs’ and skew the risks of ‘drug use’ by focusing almost exclusively on specific types of use and users, and concentrating attention upon associated negative outcomes. This process allows certain substances to attain an unwarranted position of privilege while others are prohibited, creating a ‘drug apartheid’ – a deeply divisive system of segregation and punishment determined by the substance used. Second, the article will reflect on how the changing global policy landscape and ad hoc reform strategies are essentially rooted within a prohibitionist mind-set resulting in the ‘metamorphosis of prohibition’ – whereby a raft of reforms give the impression of progressive drug policy evolution, yet actually mask a continuation of the arbitrary and contradictory processes that underpin contemporary drug policy. Consequentially the article concludes that given the paucity of rationale, evidence and lack of scientific analysis upholding both prohibition and the current wave of alternative strategies, the repeal of drug laws rather than superficial policy reform is necessary. The article will utilize the United Kingdom as a lens through which to scrutinize drug prohibition while drawing on comparative reform policies from across the globe to illustrate how fallacy continues to inform, motivate and legitimize drug policy change. This examination of drug policy, critiquing the fundamental evidence base upholding both drug prohibition and drug reform has international significance. A Changing Landscape? The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs listed those ‘narcotic’ substances that required strict legal controls. In doing so it represented a significant shift away from drug regulation towards a more prohibitive approach (Bewley-Taylor and Jelsma, 2012), providing the legislative bedrock for contemporary global drug control.1 For almost five 454 Criminology & Criminal Justice 16(4) decades relatively little changed, however, recent years have witnessed a wave of alternative drug policies, including models of decriminalization (e.g. Portugal, Spain, Jamaica), legalization (e.g. Uruguay, US states) and regulation (e.g. New Zealand). Despite these adjustments, no single jurisdiction has completely decoupled itself from the prohibition model.2 While these reforms indicate a growing turbulence and diversification within the drug prohibition landscape, it is questionable whether this amounts to a ‘revolution’. Some reform advocates have argued that incremental drug policy change represents positive progress (Rolles and Kushlick, 2014), however, such strategies risk strengthening rather than challenging the fundamentally flawed principles on which prohibition is built. We argue these ‘reforms’ fail to address the drug apartheid and instead perpetuate the arbitrary distinctions concerning ‘drugs’ that privilege some substances as legal while prohibiting others. The 1961 Convention asserts that ‘narcotic drugs’ have no place in society and must be restricted to medical and scientific purposes, but the Convention, offers no scientific definition to determine a ‘narcotic’ drug.3 Narcotics or controlled drugs as they are referred to, are simply those substances listed in the UN document, a list that reflects social and cultural practices of the mid-20th century, rather than any pharmacological or scientific evidence (Bancroft, 2009), and despite new knowledge this arbitrary categorization of substances prevails. Under the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, strict rules govern storage, cultivation, possession and supply of these controlled substances, and any breach attracts severe penalties. The UK Drug Strategy (Home Office, 2010: 9) emphasizes the danger posed by narcotics: ‘people should not start taking drugs and those who do should stop’, however, the government warning against ‘drugs’, excludes state approved drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugars. Further, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 with its ABC classification system sanctions severe punishments for anyone possessing or supplying ‘drugs’, vehemently enforced by a concerted national and international collaboration involving police, armed forces, border control officials, security and secret services. In addition, rapidly expanding civil enforcement measures include ‘drug’ testing by employers, schools, colleges and welfare agencies (Buchanan, 2010), while government bodies, non-government organizations and private companies exclude known ‘drug’ users from education, employment, travel, housing, medical provision, financial credit and/or insurance. The rationale for this relentless punitive approach led by the UN may appear to have some validity given the perceived threat posed by ‘drugs’. The association between ‘drug’ use and crime in the UK is well documented and commonly asserted (Boreham et al., 2006; Budd et al., 2005), and the detrimental impact of drug use upon individuals, families and communities is frequently cited in UK governmental documentation (Home Office, 2008, 2010). While this apparent body of evidence has been contested as methodologically flawed (Stevens, 2007) and limited in scope (Moore, 2008), it nonetheless presents a persistent and forceful rhetoric to bolster prohibition. The Social Construction of ‘Drugs’ The omission of legal drugs from drug policy debate, portrayed as ‘non-drugs’, has created a bifurcation, reinforced by the social construction of narcotics or dangerous ‘drugs’ Taylor et al. 455 (Buchanan, 2006). Dangerous drugs are perceived as those substances listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, a continually expanding list, with mephedrone, BZP and khat more recent additions. Once included in the Act substances become ‘controlled’ dangerous drugs, while legally promoted counterparts fly under the ‘drug’ radar. Scientists, academics and experts in the field have long questioned the rationale of this drug bifurcation, highlighting the contradictions, inconsistencies and hypocrisy (GCDP, 2014) and the misleading nature of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a guide to potential risk (Rolles and Measham, 2011). Indeed, Nutt et al.’s (2010) research illustrates that legal–illegal distinctions are not based on scientific principles of harm, and that legally approved substances such as alcohol and tobacco, present far greater potential for harm than many Class A drugs. In recent years a number of jurisdictions (e.g. Uruguay, certain US states) have amended their drug laws to permit the use of cannabis, and proponents for drug reform appear to assume that cannabis is the obvious drug to legalize ‘first’, but the reasons for this seem no different to the arbitrary classifications in the 1961 UN Single Convention that prohibited substances used by a minority of ‘others’ while privileging those that were popular in the western world (Hari, 2015). The justification to privilege cannabis rather than substances such as ecstasy, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms which are relatively less harmful (Nutt et al., 2010) is a populist driven decision, rather than one rooted in science. The lack of scientific evidence driving the legalization of cannabis indicates the capricious nature of drug law reform and perpetuates a drug apartheid based on privilege and populism rather than rationale and evidence. Given the dearth of scientific rationale upholding drug laws it may seem difficult to comprehend how policies based on such arbitrary notions attain and maintain legitimacy, however, an examination of the reductionist discourse surrounding the social construction of ‘drugs’ can help our understanding. Deconstructing Drugs: A Reductionist Discourse Since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 there has been an intensive multi-disciplinary effort across the UK to remove banned substances from circulation and protect communities from the purported dangers (Home Office, 1998, 2008, 2010). This campaign is part of a global effort impelled by the UN to ensure zero-tolerance towards narcotics. In 2012, when confronted by a growing number of countries seeking to accommodate certain narcotic drugs (particularly cannabis), Raymond Yans, President of the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), urged countries to stand firm: ‘governments must continue to strengthen their efforts in the licit control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances […] I cannot over-emphasize the importance of international cooperation and shared responsibility in facing all facets of the global drug problem’ (UNIS, 2012: 1). Those substances labelled as ‘drugs’ are seen to pose a global threat requiring international cooperation and tough action. In response to the legalization of cannabis in certain jurisdictions, the INCB President robustly asserts ‘such initiatives, if pursued, would pose a grave danger to public health and well-being, the very things the States, in designing the conventions, intended to protect’ (INCB, 2014: v). Furthermore, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for greater international resolve: 456 Criminology & Criminal Justice 16(4) many countries around the world are suffering […] we must also ask ourselves tough questions about whether we have managed to reduce the global drug threat […] if we are really determined to confront illicit drugs, we must move with more determination. (UNODC, 2013) In the context of drug policy liberalization, the UN seeks greater commitment for tough enforcement and prohibition. The UK Home Office (2014a, 2014b) recently underlined its full support of prohibition when it published simultaneous reports, one considering international comparative drug policies while the other explored the management of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – the former resulted in UK Prime Minister David Cameron declaring ‘the evidence is, what we’re doing [prohibition] is working’, emphasizing that reform is not on the political agenda, while the latter report extended prohibition by proposing a blanket ban on all NPS.4 It seems curious that during a period of apparent reform, the UK is set to join Eire and New Zealand by banning all NPS, further entrenching the drug apartheid. The UK government’s commitment to drug prohibition and refusal to consider any ‘liberalisation of drug laws’ (Home Office, 2010: 2) remains resolute with the Prime Minister emphasizing that ‘I don’t believe in decriminalising drugs that are illegal today […] I’m a parent with three children – I don’t want to send out a message that somehow taking these drugs is okay and safe because, frankly, it isn’t’ (cited in Morris and Cooper, 2014). While some writers have contributed to an informed nuanced narrative of illicit drug taking (Aldridge et al., 2011; Seddon, 2010; Stevens, 2011), political rhetoric and UK media coverage of drug policy deliver a strong ideological crusade against what they call ‘drugs’, focusing almost exclusively upon the damaging consequences arising from a minority of problematic drug users, and conveniently conflating drug use with drug misuse, resulting in a negative portrayal and stereotype of the ‘drug user’ (UKDPC, 2012). The dominant prohibitionist discourse on ‘drugs’ then takes place within a framework preoccupied by compulsion, pain and pathology (O’Malley and Valverde, 2004), in which drug use is presented as an activity undertaken by a small group of risk bearing ‘outsiders’, that inevitably leads to desperation and addiction (Taylor, 2008). Media representations frame ‘drugs’ as causing: petty crime (Salkeld, 2009); serious crime (Stretch, 2014); organized crime (Daily Mail, 2013); mental illness (Byrne, 2011); psychosis (Bloom, 2014); and physical and moral decay (Ayres and Jewkes, 2012) and wrongly presents drug use as a significant causal factor in a range of societal problems including: car accidents (Romano et al., 2014); workplace accidents (Price, 2014); disease (Ceste, 2010); and child abuse (Ryder and Brisgone, 2013), and so prohibition is legitimized by the construction of ‘drugs’ as unsafe and extremely harmful. Whereas in contrast to the rhetoric, the reality is that the majority of illegal drug use is non-problematic, most commonly associated with leisure, pleasure and desired outcomes (Hunt et al., 2010) and rarely does drug use lead to addiction (Cloud and Granfield, 2001) or require treatment (Siliquini et al., 2005). Importantly, given the lack of empirical evidence to uphold prohibition the rhetoric could be more accurately described as fallacies that have their roots in the social and political construction of ‘drugs’ and a reductionist analysis (Ayres and Jewkes, 2012). Crucially, this discourse employs and indeed perpetuates these myths as the ongoing evidence base to provide legitimacy for prohibition. Taylor et al. 457 By distorting the social reality surrounding drugs and drug users, the media provide the ‘reality effect’ of ideology (Hall, 1982). In symbolizing normality (Cohen, 1971) the media constructed matrix of ‘drugs = danger = death’ provokes social conformity by frequent graphic illustrations of the negative consequences associated with the use of these prohibited drugs. By engendering fear and highlighting extreme case stories, the media create a hyper-reality constructing a ‘simulacrum’ of drug use (Baudrillard, 1994), what Baudrillard (1983: 36) aptly refers to as a process ‘of proving the real by the imaginary; proving truth by scandal’. Since the creation of the 1961 UN Single Convention this simulacrum of ‘drug use’ has become more real and influential in shaping our perceptions, knowledge and policies on drugs, than rationality, science and evidence, and indeed worryingly, such distortions have been accepted and adopted by drug reformers (Reynolds, 2015). Perpetuating these fallacies within a reductionist discourse has far reaching consequences. First, it continues the ‘routinisation of caricature’ (Reinarman and Duskin, 1999: 81) whereby all use of illicit substances becomes conflated with problematic drug use. Second, the enjoyment, benefits and pleasures derived from illicit drug use are inadequately researched, acknowledged and discussed (Moore, 2008). Third, drugs policy becomes impervious to scientific evidence and instead takes its lead from political ideology (Boland, 2008). Fourth, policy responses tend to focus almost exclusively upon problematic use and fail to comprehend the policy needs of recreational drug users (Taylor, 2011). The current raft of policy ‘reforms’, which tweak and utilize the existing drug war paradigm have done little to address these fundamental issues that sustain the drug apartheid. Reforming Prohibition? In 2012 when Nick Clegg (UK Deputy Prime Minister) advocated drug policy reform it was perhaps indicative that he simultaneously maintained his commitment to reductionist drug war propaganda, arguing ‘I’m anti-drugs, it’s for that reason that I’m pro-reform’ (cited in Doward, 2014, emphasis added). The underlying motivation for reform here is rooted in moral bias rather than science and reasoning. A key reformist argument is to cite countries like The Netherlands and Portugal who have introduced elements of decriminalization, and claim they are successful precisely because decriminalization has had little impact on rates of drug use (Rosmarin and Eastwood, 2011: 42). Portugal, for example, has been heralded as a progressive reform model for drug policy since it decriminalized personal possession of all drugs in 2001 with levels of drug use remaining stable and comparable to neighbouring countries (Hughes and Stevens, 2010). Such indicators of effectiveness, however, further reinforce the ‘anti-drugs’ prohibitionist discourse that sees drug use as undesirable and problematic. In addition, Portugal continues to support prohibition with 15 per cent of personal possession rulings in 2012 resulting in a punitive outcome; Portugal continues to criminalize individuals caught in possession of amounts above the decriminalized threshold limit5 and continues to imprison people for drug defined crimes with 21 per cent of the Portuguese prison population incarcerated under drug laws (RNFP, 2013). Within these ‘liberal’ reforms the central tenets of prohibition remain – the ability …
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