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Ball/Oberman Current Challenges in Criminal Law

Actus Reus: Addiction/Drug Policy

Our actus reus cases teach that without a voluntary act, we cannot justify punishment. The challenge of drug and alcohol use, abuse and addiction cuts straight to the heart of questions of volition. This weeks' selections ask you to consider the challenge posed by our societal determination to criminalize (some) drugs. As you make your way through these various conversations, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How might this understanding of substance abuse complicate conventional notions of actus reus, central to criminal liability?

2. What is at stake, if the criminal legal system were to adopt a more nuanced response to substance use and addiction?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages (theoretical and practical) to maintaining a role for the criminal law in response to substance use and addiction?