Models of Policy Formation

In the Readings, supplemental materials, and Seminars, we have emphasized the approaches to examining policy adoption, i.e., policy process frameworks and theories. For example interest group theory suggests that concentrated interests are generally more influential in representative government than diffuse interest. Under this theory, the likelihood of having a proposal or initiative adopted is much greater, the larger and more concentrated the group is. Since President Richard Nixon declared war on drug abuse in 1971, the nation has been spending billions of dollars per year to combat the movement of illicit drugs from Latin America. Recently, several States have legalized the use of marijuana. Using those States (Colorado and Washington) as an example, apply the models of public policy formulation that ultimately led to the passage of the laws.


In your paper explain which models had the greatest and least influential effect on the passage of the legislation. (Include examples of policy entrepreneurs and publications that influenced the debate.) In your analysis, you should:

  • Identify five of the basic models of policy frameworks that would most likely and least likely explain the legislative results. (Interest Group Theory, Institutional Rational Choice, Advocacy Coalition, Social Construction and Multiple Streams framework).
  • Describe the application of these models in the context of the legislation.

Use one model to determine which had the greatest impact on the expected or anticipated outcomes of the legislation. Were the following possible questions addressed in the legislative discussion? If not, why?

Where will legal pot be grown? Outdoors on commercial farms? Inside in confined growing spaces, or somewhere in between?

If there is a commercial pot industry, businesses will have strong incentives to create and maintain the heavy users who use most of the pot. To get a sense of what this could look like, look no further than the alcohol and tobacco industries, which have found ingenious ways to hook and reel in heavy users. So will private companies be allowed to enter the pot market, or will states limit it to home producers, nonprofit groups or cooperatives?

If pot is legal for adults, how will school and community prevention programs adapt their messages to prevent kids from using? While some proposals to legalize marijuana would divert tax revenues to prevention efforts, the messaging and strategy should probably be in place before legal marijuana ever hits the streets.

Your policy statement should be a minimum of three (3) pages and should not exceed ten (10) pages.

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