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Classifying Alternative Approaches for Simple Drug Possession: A Two-Level Taxonomy

Stevens, Alex, Hughes, Caitlin Elizabeth, Hulme, Shann, Cassidy, Rebecca (2021) Classifying Alternative Approaches for Simple Drug Possession: A Two-Level Taxonomy. North Kentucky Law Review, 48 (2). pp. 337-354. (KAR id:91090)


Background: Increasing international attention is being given to alternative

measures to criminalization for the possession of illicit drug. Such schemes are heterogeneous and a clear conceptual framework for their discussion and analysis is lacking.

Aim: To present a conceptually informed, empirically based taxonomy for the

classification of alternative measures to decriminalization for the possession of drugs.

Methods: The research uses qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of

existing alternative measures. It proceeds from analysis of existing distinctions between and classifications of alternative measures. It uses data from a realist review of alternative measures in nine countries (Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, Netherland, Portugal, UK and USA) to derive three dimensions of comparison (whether they: are de jure or de facto; involve diversion to an educative, therapeutic of social service; involve the use of civil/administrative sanctions). A QCA truth table using data from twenty-six schemes in the nine countries is used to identify types in the taxonomy. The types are grouped - using pragmatic reduction informed by Boolean minimization across a smaller number of classes in order to create a two-level taxonomy.

Results: The resulting taxonomy contains six types of alternative measures: depenalization; de facto diversion; de jure diversion; decriminalization with diversion and civil sanctions, decriminalization with civil sanctions; and decriminalization with no sanctions. The six types fall into three classes: depenalization; diversion; and decriminalization. It is possible to classify emerging alternatives into this new taxonomy.

Conclusion: Conceptually informed empirical observation of cases enables

the construction of a two-level taxonomy of alternative measures to criminalization for the simple possession of drugs. This may facilitate clearer and better-informed discussion of alternatives to criminalization for drug possession.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Alex Stevens
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2021 09:33 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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