Problematizing Prohibition: A Post Structuralist Analysis of BC’s Drug Decriminalization Framework




Sharp, Dee

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This project uses Carrol Bacchi’s post-structuralist framework “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” (also known as a WPR approach) to conduct a critical policy analysis of the Government of British Columbia’s October 2021 request to Health Canada to decriminalize personal possession of illicit substances. Through a WPR approach, I place this public policy into a wider political context and understand how substance use continues to be problematized and regulated by the state. I evaluate how the policy challenges and/or reifies prohibition. This research looks closely at enduring discourses around drug use, deviance, criminality, public health, and public safety fifty years into the War on Drugs. Through this work, I ask critical questions around state intervention, harm reduction, decriminalization, and drug user liberation.



drug decriminalization, substance use policy, harm reduction, post-structuralism, policy analysis, WPR Approach, Carol Bacchi