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Examining the historical, economic and political context for the current prohibition of particular drugs, this study investigates the problem of drug control and provides a systematic analysis of the development of the international system of regulation. It identifies the political rationalities that provided the basis of that system and positions these moral justifications for exercising power in relation to the practical programmes that put them into practice. The work not only catalogues the techniques and strategies employed in the process of governing illicit drugs, it also notes the failures, unintended consequences and other difficulties associated with getting such programmes to work. It will be of key interest to students and scholars of crime and criminology, law and society, medico-legal studies and health studies.