This paper examines the creation of a social problem from behavior previously viewed as within the province of individual preference to the reconceptualization of that behavior as necessitating legal proscription. From a commodity sold in the competitive market, opiates became defined as a social problem ostensibly requiring the most extreme criminal sanctions. While interest groups played a decisive role in the creation of opiate legislation, the actions of such groups can be explicated only through reference to the social context, namely, a social structure characterized by an increasingly regulated international and national economy, the rationalization of bureaucratic agencies, and the expansion of formal, rational legal procedures. The analysis provides new insight into the unintended consequences of drug regulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health