Competition, conflict and controversy in the making of UK drug classification policy

Mark Monaghan

in Evidence versus politics

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426970
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302247 | DOI:
Competition, conflict and controversy in the making of UK drug classification policy

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This chapter provides background information to the case study through which the complex nature of evidence utilisation is explored. It charts the origins and the impact of the implementation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA 1971) and points out that the passing of the MDA 1971 created the first UK government drugs advisory board. The chapter goes on to explain how, until recently, the Act remained relatively stable despite significant perturbations in the UK drug scene from the 1980s onwards. Following on from this, it covers the developments in UK drug policy in light of the election of the New Labour government in 1997. The chapter also documents the centrality of drug classification issues in contemporary drug debates and how this links to the evidence-based policy movement. In effect, the 2004 cannabis reclassification, it argues, witnessed a collision between UK drugs policy and the evidence-based endeavour.

Keywords: evidence utilisation; MDA 1971; UK drugs policy; New Labour; evidence-based policy; cannabis reclassification

Chapter.  9165 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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