Thesis

Towards an Alternative Approach in U.S. Drug Policy: Perspectives From the War on Drugs to Decriminalization

The misuse of illicit drugs in America has continuously been a national concern for years. Yet, through the U.S. War on Drugs initiatives, the United States has made it a priority to criminalize illicit drug consumption with the hopes of steering illicit drugs away from consumers. The literature found on the U.S. War on Drugs discusses the common theme of how ineffective this approach has been and how health-based approaches may be more effective in alleviating the situation. Among the most successful drug policies found in literature is the decriminalizing approach that Portugal established, with a focus on health over crime. Thus, the study in this research aims to find the perspective of drug policy administrators in the County of Los Angeles, California, and how they would feel about a shift from criminalizing illicit drug consumption to decriminalizing as Portugal did. A qualitative research will be conducted with a focus sample group of six county sheriffs and six licensed health practitioners through one-on-one interviews concerning the matter. A thematic analysis will be done on the data collected in order to obtain information about common feelings and concerns among administrators and U.S. drug policy.

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