Preliminary methodological analysis on the lexicometric assessment of laws and drugs policies and evaluation of social outcomes
In the framework of the second transnational call of ERANID, an international research group is developing a project called ‘Illicit drug policies and social outcomes: a cross-country analysis’ (IDPSO, https://www.eranid.eu/projects/idpso/).
In this project, especially in the WP2, we are developing a new methodology to analyze the drug policies through ‘leximetric’.
The analysis focuses on illicit drug laws and policies in seven countries, including Italy, during the last twenty years.
This kind of analysis is based on a quantitative study of law that has never been applied before in the drug policy field. The first step consists in identifying the most significant criminal conduct common to the laws of the different countries and the most relevant court decisions (in particular for common law country). Then, each conduct is evaluated by assigning to it a value - either on a binary system or on a scale out of ten – that can express the degree of severity of the related punishment.
If from one side, the binary system is more certain, from the other side it is not able to reflect the different shades of the legal language. For this reason, we have decided to use the decimal system, also in order to mark the differences between the criminal and the administrative offenses related to drugs.
We have identified seven core variables that take into account seven different fields related to drug policies. We have highlighted the conducts and/or the law provisions, the court decisions and the policies’ guidelines contributing to form the single variable.
To measure the degree of severity of the law and the consequences that prohibitionist drug policies have on specific social indicators, we have focused on the following variables: consumption, possession, traffic, money laundering, harm reduction, treatment and prevention.
The final aim is to create a tool that, by assigning a degree to the law, facilitates cross-country analysis of drug policies, allows to compare the evolutions of the laws in a same country throughout the years and, finally, measures the impact of the different drug related policies on key social indicators (for more information visit the website).