Crushing a Walnut with a Sledge Hammer? Analysing the Penal Response to the Social Supply of Illicit Drugs
The evidence base relating to illicit drug markets, drug supply activities and drug seller characteristics increasingly presents a picture of diversity, whereby differing motivations for supplying suggest different levels of culpability and divergence from a homogenised image of the drug dealer. This paper seeks to explore one specific aspect of this divergence, that of social supply and how the Criminal Justice System currently deals with this in practice and principle. It is argued that social supply is qualitatively distinct from drug dealing 'proper' and although this distinction is increasingly acknowledged within the Criminal Justice System, current approaches neither conform to principles of proportionality nor sufficiently understand the nature of social supply to deal with it effectively under existing legislation. Following consideration of these issues, it is argued that social supply should become a distinct offence in law, analogous to how manslaughter is distinguished from the more serious offence of murder.
Social & Legal Studies
Courts and Sentencing