Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Donley Studlar


The prohibition approach to narcotics control has been the dominant policy paradigm of the United States (US) and the global narcotics regime under the United Nations (UN) for more than a century. In recent years, however, key questions have been raised on the existing prohibition policy approach, which many consider as ineffective and unchanging from a broader perspective. It is based on this appearance of unchanging policy that this study seeks to investigate whether the US narcotics policy is undergoing any type of change or not. The study also seeks to explore the implications of US narcotics policy change on the global narcotics regime. It draws on three domestic policy theories: agenda-setting, partisan ideology, and policy paradigm theory (orders of change) to examine the dynamics of US narcotics policy change since 1993. The research study employs these theories as competing explanations and concludes that the narcotics policy process has largely undergone Hall's (1993) conceptual second order change in policy. In essence, Hall's (1993) theoretical concept of policy paradigm theory (orders of change) offers a persuasive explanation for the changing nature of the US narcotics policy. For the global implications of US policy change, the study finds that the US is more likely to influence and shape similar policy changes on the global narcotics regime because of its dominant influence on the regime.