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NCJ Number: 156378 Find in a Library
Title: Dissonance and Contradictions in the Origins of Marihuana Decriminalization
Journal: Law and Society Review  Volume:28  Issue:1  Dated:(1994)  Pages:41-77
Author(s): A DiChiara; J F Galliher
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 37
Sponsoring Agency: University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65201
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The movement to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana in the United States provides an important case study of the causes of and processes involved in decriminalization.
Abstract: Between 1973 and 1978, 11 States reduced criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, but the reform movement was fragile, brief, and limited to a few States. The case study suggests that reform in the 1970's was driven in part by "moral dissonance" associated with the arrest of high status offenders. Although public opinion has always been deeply divided on the decriminalization of marijuana possession, a narrow policy window was created in the 1970's by the expressed concern of political leaders about the effect of arrest on high status youth and the support of law enforcement agencies interested in the efficient use of limited resources. Even after the window for reform closed at the end of the 1970's with a shift in national leadership, deep moral ambivalence has rendered criminalization symbolic, and police agencies have placed a low priority on marijuana arrests. Theoretical aspects of marijuana decriminalization and the demise of decriminalization in the 1980's are discussed. 121 references and 84 footnotes
Main Term(s): Drug legalization
Index Term(s): Criminology; Drug law enforcement; Drug law offenses; Marijuana
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