PA 420: Prohibition, Legalization, Regulation – Governing the Use and Abuse of Intoxicating Substances

Policy makers have long struggled to regulate intoxicating substances, including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and opioids. While some of these substances are widely used for recreational or medicinal purposes, they can have significant deleterious effects on both the individual and societal levels. Furthermore, although evidence suggests that some policies to limit consumption of these substances may improve social welfare, other policies may unintentionally exacerbate societal inequality and cause further harms to public health and safety. In this course, we will analyze the various policy approaches that have been used to manage intoxicating substances, paying particular attention to the policy actors that have been involved, policy mechanisms that have been used, and the consequences of these responses. Simultaneously, we will explore the principles and analytic tools commonly employed during evidence-based policy making, and examine how they may be used to address regulation of intoxicating substances. While we will investigate efforts to regulate a variety of substances, we will pay particular attention to developments surrounding the legalization of marijuana.