Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Broad Topic

The symposium hopes to make progress in thinking through the role (or lack thereof) of the criminal law in regulating vice. Related issues include defining "vice" and seeing how any vice regulatory framework might apply to areas that are not typically regarded as vicious, including handgun possession, cockfighting, and boxing or other violent, voluntary confrontations.

My feeling is that I have already sketched out my views on these issues, in my book and related papers. One possibility it to revisit those earlier views, probing more deeply and amending or amplifying where appropriate. But I also have some more specific topics in mind, and might want to focus my paper instead on one of these. Here are a few possibilities:

(1) Snus and Khat: two plant-based substances. Snus, a form of chewing tobacco, is sold legally in the US but is banned in the European Union (excepting Sweden); khat (more a plant in itself than a plant-based substance) is legal in Britain but banned in the US. So snus and khat seem to offer natural experiments where the identical drug is criminalized in one country and legal in another. Is the legality of khat a significant problem in Britain? Does the prohibition of khat come at a high cost in the US? How about the parallel questions involving snus?

(2) Prostitution: again, we have an ongoing natural experiment, in that some forms of prostitution are legal in some places while illegal in other places.

(3) Licensing and self-exclusion as elements of desirable vice control policies.

(4) Inter-jurisdictional issues in vice control, including vice tourism and federal v. state policies.

Numbers three and four seem to me to important as we move away from drug prohibition. But for now, my purpose is just to signal some of the main topics that I might take on. I'll try to look into some of them a bit more in the coming days. I am worried about dawdling too long on narrowing my focus, so the looming January 31 deadline for the first of the intended five drafts is chosen in part to force my hand.

No comments:

Post a Comment