AP/SOSC 3118 3.00
Drugs And Society
Addictions often bring conflicts between those who enjoy or profit from them and those who deplore their effects. This course examines the forces behind these conflicts, their influence on public policies and some of their social consequences. Public policies regarding addiction have been strangely inconsistent. Some unhealthy and potentially addictive behaviours (smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol) are tolerated and taxed, while others (using heroin, cocaine or marijuana) are criminalized, and still others, such as gambling, are promoted as a source of state revenue. These policies vary from place to place and have shifted over time. What accounts for their differences? What effects have they had? How and why do they change? In addressing these questions, the course moves from an opening discussion of theoretical issues to a series of historical case studies in the public control of addictive substances, looking especially at alcohol, opiates and tobacco. Lessons drawn from these studies will then inform an analysis of current policy debates on such topics as harm reduction measures for heroin addicts, decriminalization of marijuana, state-sponsored VLT gambling, and court-mandated treatment for alcoholics. The course concludes by considering political dimensions and implications of the global trade in drugs.