No. XLIV/2 (2022)

Application of the policy constellations framework to the Polish drug policy over the past twenty-five years

Aplikacja ramy teoretycznej „policy constellations” do polskiego prawa i polityki narkotykowej na przestrzeni ostatnich 25 lat

Greg Los
University of Brighton

Published 2023-03-09


  • drug policy,
  • Poland,
  • ACF,
  • policy constellations,
  • pluralism,
  • NPS

How to Cite

Los, G. (2023). Application of the policy constellations framework to the Polish drug policy over the past twenty-five years: Aplikacja ramy teoretycznej „policy constellations” do polskiego prawa i polityki narkotykowej na przestrzeni ostatnich 25 lat. Archives of Criminology, (XLIV/2), 61–82.


Background: The aim of this paper is to explain change and continuity in the Polish drug policy over the past 25 years using the policy constellations framework (Stevens, Zampini 2018). Method: The policy constellations framework is applied to explain Poland’s adoption of solutions based on prohibition in the year 2000, and later from 2008 to 2016, in the context of novel psychoactive substances. The data comes from in-depth interviews with stakeholders (N = 18), including NGO workers, former ministers, government officials, journalists, a former police superintendent and a criminologist. Conclusion: The Polish drug policy is not a natural outcome of events, but it rather reflects moral preferences and material interests (e.g., the desire to reproduce political capital) of the dominant groups involved in shaping the drug policy.


  1. Bernard H.R. (2002). Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press.
  2. Bujalski M., Dąbrowska K., and Wieczorek Ł. (2017). ʻNew psychoactive substances in Poland. The analysis of policy responses and its effects.ʼ Alcoholism and Drug Addiction 30(3), pp. 171–184. Available online:
  3. Carpini D. (2004). ʻMediating democratic engagement: The impact of communications on citizens’ involvement in political and civic life.ʼ In L. Kaid (ed.) Handbook of Political Communication Research. Mahwah: LEA, pp. 395–434.
  4. Cresswel J.W. and Plano Clark V. (2011). Designing and Conducting Mixed Method Research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
  5. Edgard A. (2006). Habermas: The Key Concepts. Oxford: Routledge Key Guides.
  6. EMCDDA (2017). High‐Risk Drug Use and New Psychoactive Substances. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Available online: [14.09.2022].
  7. Goode L. (2005). Jurgen Habermas Democracy and the Public Sphere. London: Pluto Press.
  8. Habermas J. (1981). The Theory of Communicative Action. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  9. Habermas J. (1987). The Theory of Communicative Action Vol. 2. Boston: Beacon Press.
  10. Habermas J. (1996). Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Boston: MIT Press.
  11. Herman E. and Chomsky N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of The Mass Media. New York: Vintage.
  12. Hughes B. and Winstock A.R. (2012). ʻControlling new drugs under marketing regulations.ʼ Addiction 107(11), pp. 1894–1899. Available online:
  13. Hughes C. and Stevens A. (2010). ʻWhat can we learn from the Portuguese decriminalization of illicit drugs?.ʼ British Journal of Criminology 50(6), pp. 999–1022. Available online:
  14. Kangas O., Niemelä M., and Varjonen S. (2013). ʻWhen and why do ideas matter? The influence of framing on opinion formation and policy change.ʼ European Political Science Review 6, pp. 73–92. Available online:
  15. Kingdon J. (1984). Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. Pearson: The Book Service Ltd.
  16. Krajewski K. (2004). ʻPolish drug policies: Between hard and soft prohibition.ʼ The Journal of Drug Issues 34, pp. 587–622 .
  17. Krajewski K. (2013). ʻThe tale of two drug policy approaches. Polish and Portugese drug policies during 2000s and their effects.ʼ In A. Kuhn, P. Margot, M.F. Aebi, C. Schwarzenegger, A. Donatsch, and D. Jositsch (eds.) Criminology, Criminal Policy and Criminal Law in an International Perspective. Berne: Stämpfli Verlag, pp. 233–246.
  18. Krajewski K. (2015). ʻKontrolować czy nie, ale jeśli kontrolować, to w jaki sposób? Wyzwania związane ze zjawiskiem nowych substancji psychoaktywnychʼ [To control or not and if control then how?]. Archiwum Kryminologii 37, pp. 5–50.
  19. Kübler D. (2001). ʻUnderstanding policy change with the advocacy coalition framework: An application to Swiss drug policy.ʼ Journal of European Public Policy 8(4), pp. 623–641. Available online:
  20. Lancaster K., Ritter A., Hughes C., and Hoppe R. (2017). ʻA critical examination of the introduction of drug detection dogs for policing of illicit drugs in New South Wales, Australia using Kingdon’s “multiple streams” heuristic.ʼ Evidence and Policy 13(4), pp. 583–603. Available online:
  21. Loseke D. (2003). Thinking About Social Problems: An Introduction to Constructionist Perspectives. Boca Raton: Aldine de Gruyter.
  22. MacCoun R. and Reuter P. (2001). ʻEvaluating alternative cannabis regimes.ʼ The British Journal of Psychiatry 178, pp. 123–128. Available online:
  23. Malinowska-Sempruch K. (2016). ʻShaping drug policy in Poland.ʼ International Journal of Drug Policy 31, pp. 32–38. Available online:
  24. Palinkas L.A., Horwitz S.M., Green C.A., Wisdom J.P., Duan N., and Hoagwood K. (2015). ʻPurposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research.ʼ Administration and Policy in Mental Health 42(5), pp. 533–544. Available online:
  25. Patton M. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Saint Paul: Sage Publications.
  26. PDPN (2010). ʻ5 października – list Polskiej Sieci Polityki Narkotykowej do Minister Zdrowia Ewy Kopaczʼ [5th October – letter from the Polish Drug Policy Network to the Minister of Health, Ewa Kopacz] Gazeta Wyborcza. 20th of October, 2010.
  27. Polskie Radio (2010). Tusk: będziemy działać na granicy prawa [Tusk: We are going to act on the edge of the law], Available online:,Tusk-bedziemy-dzialac-na-granicy-prawa [14.09.2022].
  28. Reinarman C., Cohen P.D.A., and Kaal H.L. (2004). ʻThe Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and in San Francisco.ʼ American Journal of Public Health 94(5), pp. 836–842. Available online:
  29. Reuband K.-H. (1998). ʻDrug policies and drug prevalence: The role of demand and supply.ʼ European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 6, pp. 321–336. Available online:
  30. Ritter A., Hughes C.E., Lancaster K., and Hoppe R. (2018). ʻUsing the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Multiple Streams policy theories to examine the role of evidence, research and other types of knowledge in drug policy.ʼ Addiction 113(8), pp. 1539–1547. Available online:
  31. Sabatier P. and Jenkins-Smith H. (1993). Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Boulder: Westview Press.
  32. Sabatier P. and Weible C. (2007). ʻThe advocacy coalition framework: Innovations and clarifications.ʼ In P. Sabatier (ed.) Theories of the Policy Process. Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 198–222.
  33. Sejm (2000). Sprawozdanie Komisji Sprawiedliwości i Praw Człowieka oraz Komisji Zdrowia o poselskim projekcie ustawy o zmianie ustawy o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii. [Reports of the Justice and Human Rights Committee and the Health Committee on the MP’s bill amending the act on countering drug addiction],
  34. Sejm (2011). Wypowiedzi na posiedzeniach Sejmu [Statements from Seim session], Available online: [15.09.2022].
  35. Stevens A. and Zampini G. (2018). ʻDrug policy constellations: A Habermasian approach for understanding English drug policy.ʼ International Journal of Drug Policy 57, pp. 61–71.
  36. Stevens A., Rudi F., Measham F., and Sumnall H. (2015). ʻLegally flawed, scientifically problematic, potentially harmful: The UK Psychoactive Substance Bill.ʼ International Journal of Drug Policy 26(12), pp. 1167–1170. Available online:
  37. TVP (2015). Dopalacze są, bo nie ma dostępu do koncesjonowanych miękkich narkotyków [Afterburners are here because there us no access to soft drugs], Available online: [15.09.2022].
  38. Verba S., Schlozman K., and Bradey H. (1995). Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Boston: Harvard University Press.