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Elite Model of Drug Laws

  • By: Charles Frederick Abel
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Rather than concentrating on the question of why people commit drug-related crimes, the elite model of drug policy shifts the focus of inquiry to the question of why governments define certain drug-related activities as criminal and then enforce the resulting laws in particular ways. Derived in some important respects from the social conflict theories of Marx, legal realism, and critical legal studies, the elite model characterizes society as conflict rather than consensus driven, and argues that as a result those with less power are more likely to be defined and dealt with as deviants and criminals. Accordingly, drug laws are selectively and sporadically employed against politically, socially, or economically marginalized groups as a service to the interests of social, political, or economic elites. The elite ...

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