chapter  10
20 Pages

Comparing British drug policy

This concluding chapter once again moves us away from purely Anglo-centric concerns by turning attention to drug policy elsewhere in the developed world. The rationale for this lies in the fact that internationally, just as in domestic policy, there is a recognition that it is impossible to ‘go it alone’ in dealing with illicit drugs, thus creating a need for international joint working to address the problems caused by a global industry. For example, it is clear that the origins of the raw materials for heroin and cocaine come from Afghanistan and the Andean countries respectively. It should be clear that Britain has some interest in the manner in which those countries ‘police’ their own drug problem. Another reason is, as social scientists, we need to expand our horizons and

challenge our own ethnocentricity. Giddens (1986: 19) powerfully warns us of the perils of ‘[T]he tendency to use our own society and culture as a measure to judge all others’. Arguably, Britain is still a long way from winning its own ‘war on drugs’, yet some British policy-makers seem all too quick to dismiss the actions of others’. Equally, it is important not to overlook the growing influence the European Union has on British policy. In several areas there are strong moves toward harmonisation and integration of policies. For example, Ganghof and Genschel (2007) discuss the harmonisation of taxation policies, and specifically for this work the EMCDDA have documents such as Decriminalisation in Europe? (EMCDDA 2001), which examines the possibility of a Europe-wide relaxation of drug laws. That being the case, it is imperative that policy-makers, practitioners and academics become aware of developments elsewhere. The chapter begins by exploring the usefulness of comparative research,

noting the need for some form of comparative framework. Following on from that point, the next two sections explore drug policy in the Netherlands and New Zealand respectively. The chapter, and indeed the book, concludes with a comparison of the factors that influenced drug policy in Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand, concentrating particularly on the impact society, politics and economics has had on the nature and construction of British illicit drug policy.