Drug law reform

Over the past decade, an important strand of my work has been a set of projects on the broad theme of drug law reform. What these projects share in common is an animating theoretical premise: that drug law reform can be fruitfully explored through the lens of regulation.

This programme of research was pre-figured by a couple of early papers on the origins of prohibition – one focusing on heroin, the other on gender – but its contours were first sketched out in a short article I published ten years ago.

One area that I felt important to work on was the ‘drug’ concept itself which is generally under-theorised and treated ahistorically. This led to an initial short piece and then a more in-depth historical analysis published in the Journal of Law & Society. This paper formed one half of a pair of foundational papers for the whole programme. The second of the pair was a very long time in gestation and represents my attempt to develop an adequate theoretical account of drug control, from a regulation perspective. It was published in Social & Legal Studies in 2020.

I have also completed two projects specifically focused on cannabis. The first led to a short book on cannabis regulation co-written with my former colleague Will Floodgate, which was published in 2020. The second was an archival research project, looking at the cannabis law reform movement in the 1960s. A paper on this was published in the British Journal of Criminology. Podcast episodes on these two projects are available here and here.

I currently have one further drug law reform project in progress: a sole-authored book for publication by Oxford University Press. This is a major project which is intended to bring together much of what I have been doing over the last ten years, and set out a definitive and original intellectual reappraisal of the international drug control system and of drug law reform. I will be posting updates on progress with this book.