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Can drug classification and drug policy ever be evidence-based? 

Can drug classification and drug policy ever be evidence-based?
Can drug classification and drug policy ever be evidence-based?

Martin Plant

, Roy Robertson

, Moira Plant

, and Patrick Miller

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date: 19 October 2020

The popular and political debate about illicit drugs has been accused of being at least in part a ‘moral panic’. This, as noted above, is an expression originally used by the social scientist Stanley Cohen (1972) to describe exaggerated alarm provoked by some form of behaviour that was viewed as being socially unacceptable and menacing. Cohen applied this term to media coverage of conflict between gangs of ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’. The term moral panic has subsequently been used to imply that the debates on some issues are distorted and sensationalized. There are certainly times when popular concerns about some issues, often whipped up by the tabloid press, are exaggerated and appear to lead to moral (or immoral) outrage. During recent decades, sensationalized reports in Britain have related to a series of drug themes. These have included the use of amphetamines, cannabis, (more recently skunk), soft drugs leading to the use of harder drugs, drug dealers allegedly accosting school children, and drug adulteration. This chapter considers two main issues, the classification of drugs and the very important topic of who determines drug policy. The latter topic received enormous publicity while this book was being written.

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