Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Marc Blecher


Drugs, Regulation, Drug war, Decriminalization, Harm reduction, Drug industry, Legalization, Cannabis, Narcotics, Pharmaceuticals, Public health


The paper introduces a classification scheme for state approaches to regulation of drug markets. The concept of the 'drug regulation state' is developed to include policies and agencies concerned with all drugs, including legal examples such as tobacco, alcohol, and oxycodone. Approaches to regulation are classified broadly as drug war, harm reduction, decriminalization, and legalization. The approaches and rationales used by various state agents, especially in the United States and Europe, are summarized and analyzed. The history of modern pharmacology and drug regulation is expanded with a focus on the American case. The role of industry in state regulation is analyzed. The history of regulation for common drugs of abuse is broken down by class (opioids, cannabis, and stimulants). The paper concludes that while reform of drug war policies is increasingly popular, developing effective new strategies to mitigate drug harms will be difficult and has powerful opponents.