Section Description Provided by Instructor
The use of both natural and synthetic intoxicants has been practiced throughout history in virtually all cultures. In the U.S., the control and regulation of drug use has been a recurring legal and social problem, commanding significant political attention and public resources for over two centuries. Beginning with widespread alcohol abuse in colonial New York and continuing into the post-Civil War era, through the opium dens of the 19th century, and continuing in the contemporary heroin cocaine crises of the late 20th century, the control of intoxicants has engendered important social experiments such as the Harrison and Volstead Acts, several recurring "wars on drugs," widespread drug testing, the accretion of power to police and prosecutors, and a significant expansion of incarceration. Contemporary drug policy has raised significant constitutional issues, including landmark Fourth (search and seizure), Fourteenth (racial profiling), and Eighth (penal proportionality) amendment decisions. Issues of race, gender, public health, crime, political economy, and bioethics also intersect with drug law and policy. In the international arena, American drug policy often conflicts with law, culture and social norms in both Western and developing countries. The control of the production and flow of illicit drugs and their predicates raises complex issues of international cooperation, regional tensions and jurisdictional competition, and internal political and social arrangements. In the US, attempts to integrate medical and legal controls have produced unique jurisprudence and institutional arrangements to reconcile competing normative strains.
In this seminar, we will examine the social and historical processes of the construction of drug use and drug "problems," survey the phenomena of drug and alcohol use, assess the legal and social theories underlying efforts to reduce drug abuse, and examine law and policy to designed to control drugs use and curtail illegal markets to distribute them. We will also survey regulatory mechanisms to bring new and controversial drugs to the market. Comparative analyses will locate American drug policy in the broader context of international norms to reduce and control the harmful effects of drug abuse.
Students in the seminar will produce a comprehensive, thoroughly researched paper on specific aspects of law and social policy to control drug and alcohol use.
T 4:20p - 6:10p
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation), Major (only upon consultation)
Learning Outcome Goals
No learning outcome goals have been provided.