Miller Center

Kathleen Ferraiolo

Government, University of Virginia

A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s

Ferraiolo photo

Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo is Associate Professor of Political Science at James Madison University.

Ferraiolo's research agenda focuses primarily on direct democracy as a policymaking institution in the American states. Current projects examine state legislators’ response to successful initiatives, the federalism implications of direct democracy, and variations in state and federal approaches to morality policies including drug control and gambling. 

Ferraiolo's dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors – a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government – helped bring about policy change.

Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Mark Landy, Boston College

Selected Recent Publications

"Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences about Sarah Palin's Candidacy.” with David A. Jones and Jennifer Byrne, Politics & Policy 39, no. 2 (April 2011): 195-221

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