Understanding cannabis reclassification in the United Kingdom 2002-2004

Acevedo Holguin, Beatriz

May 2007

Thesis or dissertation

© 2007 Beatriz Acevedo Holguin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

In 2002 the British government announced that illicit drugs legislation would be reformed by downgrading cannabis from Class B to Class C in the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. This process, commonly known as the re-classification of cannabis, represents a significant reform in the approach to drugs policy in the United Kingdom. This thesis concerns an understanding of the process of policy making in relation to cannabis re-classification in the United Kingdom, during the
period of 2002 to 2004. By using both a post-structuralist approach based on the work of Michel Foucault and some tools from Systems Thinking Methodologies, this dissertation analyses the different events, discourses, opinions and dynamics involved in the process of cannabis policy making in the British context.

This thesis makes important contributions in the field of drugs policy research and the area of systems thinking: In the area of drugs policy research, this dissertation develops certain ideas regarding the social construction of the drugs problem, by answering to the following questions: (1) How are discourses on cannabis produced; (2) How do particular discourses become more relevant than others in the final decision on cannabis re-classification; (3) What are the implications of cannabis re-classification in the definition of the 'problem' of cannabis and the characterisation of subjects who might experience these problems. In addition, this dissertation proposes an original way of combining the work of Michel Foucault with the selective use of some stages in Peter Checkland's Soft Systems Methodology.

Business School, The University of Hull
Jackson, Michael C., 1951-; Common, Richard
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