Although frequently discussed as a singular policy, there is tremendous variation in the laws and regulations surrounding so-called decriminalization policies adopted by Western countries, with many jurisdictions adopting depenalization policies rather than policies that actually change the criminal status of cannabis possession offences. This paper provides a discussion of the liberalization policies being adopted in Western countries, highlighting district elements about particular policies that are important for proper analysis and interpretation of the policies. It then discusses some of the environmental factors that also shape these policies, and hence influence their potential impact, using data from the U.S.A. as a particular example. The results clearly show that researchers should be careful conducting intra- or international comparisons of policies because important aspects of these policies are frequently ignored.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rosalie_pacula/19/