Drugs: Society and Policy

Course Code: SOCI 3011

Academic Year: 2023-2024

Thousands of Canadians die annually from opioid overdoses despite nearly 100 years of intensive prohibition of most opiates, and strict regulation on the rest. At the same time, Canada has decided to end its prohibition of cannabis in favor of a regulated market. How do we regulate drugs? How did we decide on these regulations? Can we be more effective in our regulation, and what does 'efficacy' even mean in this policy area? These are key questions of this course. We will examine these questions by delving in to the history of drugs control policy, and examining the impact on various communities, nations, and vulnerable populations. We will compare regulatory mechanisms & strategies, along with transnational efforts to minimize the harms of drugs. We explore the challenges inherent to each framework of drugs control while applying those ideas to real-world examples of those ideas as they are applied to everything from alcohol to xanax. Particular focus is given to the two major drug policy issues facing Canada today: the opioid epidemic and the regulation of cannabis. Note: Students benefit from taking a lower level course in the Society, Culture and Commerce category prior to enrolling in this upper level course.