There is a growing recognition around the world that the prohibition of drugs is a counterproductive failure. However, a major barrier to drug law reform has been a widespread fear of the unknown—just what could a post-prohibition regime look like?
The application of regulatory theory to the problem of illicit drugs has generally been thought about only in terms of ‘command and control’. The international treaties governing global illicit drug control and the use of law enforcement to dissuade and punish offenders have been primary strategies. In this paper the application of other aspects of regulatory theory to illicit drugs – primarily self-regulation and market regulation – are explored. There has been an overreliance on strategies from the top of the regulatory pyramid.
The regulation of khat, one of the most recent psychoactive drugs to become a globally traded commodity, remains hotly contested within different producer and consumer countries. As regimes vary, it has been possible to compare khat policies in Africa, Europe and North America from different disciplinary perspectives. The research established the significance of khat for rural producers, regional economies, as a tax base and source of foreign exchange. At the same time, khat as a psychoactive substance is associated with health and public safety problems that in turn are met with often ill-informed legislative responses. Bans have in turn lead to the criminalisation of users and sellers and illegal drug markets.
In 2001, Canada became the first country to adopt a formal system to regulate the medicinal use of marijuana — the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. The policy allowed people suffering from terminal illnesses or severe conditions such as epilepsy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and cancer to use the drug if it eased their symptoms. Some people would be able to grow marijuana themselves under strict guidelines.
This paper starts from the premise that, when a new psychoactive substance appears on the licit/illicit market in a country in Europe, legislators need to choose whether to bring it under control of the drug laws, and for public health reasons they may need to do so quickly. A comparative study of the systems and procedures finds that there are a variety of control methods available in the different countries, including the analogue and generic systems, as well as temporary emergency and rapid permanent scheduling procedures.