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Ten Years after “Bigger than Small”: Structuring the Problem in Czech Drug Policy 1998

Author(s): Jan Morávek

Journal: Central European Journal of Public Policy
ISSN 1802-4866

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 48;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Drug policy | Czech Republic | problem structuring | frame analysis

Objective: To structure the problem in Czech drug policy as it emerged in a rich policy controversy over the so-called anti-drug bill of 1998 which criminalized the possession of “bigger than small” amounts of illicit drugs.Methods: A textual analysis of a sample of 94 press articles and 102 communications in the Czech legislature addresses a controversy over the anti-drug bill. Subjectivist perspectives in the study of policy problems as well as frame theory guided the grounded theory analysis.Results: Four competing rhetorical frames were identified in the policy controversy: (1) the symbolic disapproval frame, which problematizes a permissive environment and commits public policy to sending a message that "drugs are bad"; (2) the punitive frame, which challenges the impunity of drug traffickers and/or drug users and calls for a harsher repression of their activities; (3) the harm minimization frame, which discusses punishment as one of the means to reduce drug-related harms to users and society; and (4) the civil liberties frame, which predicts the unintended consequences of the bill with regard to a spectrum of democratic values.Conclusions: The study contributes to the problem structuring in contemporary drug policies. Structuring the drug problem empirically informs both policy analysis and the participants in policy debate about competing problem frames.
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