The Marxist Theory of Law & Drug Prohibition

“Marxist theory of law asks: what part, if any, does law play in the reproduction of the structural inequalities which characterize capitalist societies?

In summary form the major themes which are present in Marx’s own writing and in subsequent Marxist approaches to law are:

1. Law is inescapably political, or law is one form of politics.

2. Law and state are closely connected; law exhibits a relative autonomy from the state.

3. Law gives effect to, mirrors or is otherwise expressive of the prevailing economic relations.

4. Law is always potentially coercive and manifests the state’s monopoly of the means of coercion.

5. The content and procedures of law manifest, directly or indirectly, the interests of the dominant classes.”


The following questions need to be asked:

  • Given that drug use correlates with poverty, to what extent to drug laws work to perpetuate inequality and marginalise the already disadvantaged?
  • In what way are the interests of the dominant classes served by drug prohibition? (Hint)

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