The U.S. Drug Policy Landscape

The U.S. Drug Policy Landscape: Insights and Opportunities for Improving the View

Beau Kilmer
Jonathan P. Caulkins
Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
Peter H. Reuter
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 66
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt1q60vs
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  • Book Info
    The U.S. Drug Policy Landscape
    Book Description:

    Discussions about reducing the harms associated with drug use and antidrug policies are often politicized, infused with questionable data, and unproductive. This paper provides a nonpartisan primer on drug use and drug policy in the United States. It aims to bring those new to drug policy up to speed and provide ideas to researchers and potential research funders about how they could make strong contributions to the field.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7733-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    Three issues currently dominate drug policy discussions in the United States:

    Marijuana. In an increasing number of states, voters are being asked about whether to replace marijuana prohibition with legal production and sale for general, not just medical, purposes.¹ There is also discussion about the intensification of federal enforcement against medical marijuana suppliers (e.g., Onishi, 2012).

    Mexico. It is difficult to escape the gruesome pictures and stories about criminal violence in Mexico, which is fueled in large part by U.S. demand for illegal drugs. This drug violence has spilled into Central America, where homicide rates are even higher than in...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Drug Policy Landscape in the United States
    (pp. 3-16)

    This chapter provides an overview of drug use, consequences, and drug control policies in the United States. It is far from exhaustive; the goal is to survey the most salient issues, with a special focus on those that are new or emerging.

    The United States has experienced four major epidemics of illegal drug use: heroin (circa 1968–1973), powder cocaine (circa 1975–1985), crack cocaine (circa 1982–1988), and methamphetamine (circa 1990–2000) (Pollack, Sevigny, and Reuter, 2011). An epidemic is characterized by a very sharp increase in initiation of use of the drug, followed later by a similarly sharp...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Efficacy of U.S. Drug Policies and Programs
    (pp. 17-24)

    As demonstrated in the previous section, it has been customary to distinguish four or five categories (“pillars”) of interventions: domestic law enforcement, international supply-side reduction efforts, treatment, prevention, and (at least outside the United States) harm reduction. Harm reduction in this schema means interventions with users (typically dependent users) that improve their life outcomes without necessarily reducing the quantity of drugs consumed; syringe exchange programs and supervised injection facilities are the iconic examples.

    However, this traditional categorization fails in two important respects (Babor et al., 2010). First, it imagines that law enforcement is synonymous with supply control, but law enforcement...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR The Drug Policy Research Funding Landscape
    (pp. 25-32)

    Outside of government spending on policies and programs (e.g., law enforcement, treatment), a number of organizations and institutions are either providing direct services to reduce drug use or attempting to improve policy via advocacy and/or research. This chapter describes the major funders in the field, with a focus on drug policy research. In doing so, we note the areas and issues that receive the bulk of these funds, and thereafter identify the gaps.

    The vast majority of research in the area of substance use, abuse, and addiction is sponsored by NIH.² NIH work emphasizes bench and physical sciences more than...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Opportunities to Influence the Drug Policy Field
    (pp. 33-38)

    This chapter highlights opportunities for organizations and individuals looking to influence drug problems and drug policy in the United States. Our ideas are far from exhaustive and generally focus more on research than advocacy.¹ The guiding principle is that new funders should go where traditional funders have not.

    While there are pre- and postdoctoral fellowships in the social, biological, and medical sciences, few focus on drug policy, which by nature is interdisciplinary (among others, it incorporates insights from the fields of medicine, law, public policy, economics, psychology, sociology, and criminal justice). The previous chapter discussed the Drugs, Security and Democracy...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Concluding Thoughts
    (pp. 39-40)

    Too often, discussions about reducing the harms associated with drug use and antidrug policies are politicized, infused with questionable data, and unproductive. This paper provides a nonpartisan primer on drug use and drug policy in the United States. Our goals are to bring those new to drug policy up to speed and to provide ideas to researchers and potential funders about how they could make strong contributions to the field.

    We close by naming four forces that may set the stage for significant changes in U.S. drug policy in the foreseeable future.

    First, there is growing intolerance for marijuana prohibition....

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 41-52)