A RAND Corporation team assesses the effectiveness of recent U.S. drug policies.
Excerpt: For the past 15 years, the RAND Corporation's Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC) has been analyzing trends in drug use and consequences in the United States and evaluating policies intended to respond to drug-related problems. Focus is essential if research is to be successful, so each of our efforts to date has necessarily addressed only aspects, often fairly narrow aspects, of the drug problem and policy spectrum. We thought it might be helpful to policymakers and the general public if we stood back, took a broader view, and attempted to synthesize some of the findings of our own research and that of others. It seemed to us that there might be some interest in a concise, accessible, objective view of where the United States has been, now stands, and is going in its long "war on drugs." We are not the first to attempt such a synthesis, but other volumes have been lengthy or written to support a certain policy agenda (typically either the prevailing government policy or a dramatically differing alternative).
We begin by assessing the success of drug policies to date and then review possible reasons why they have not been more successful. We consider the drug war's "collateral damage" and attempt to understand why alternative policies have not been tried. Finally, we lay out some possible futures for drug problems and policy in the United States and infer from our review of evidence some broad suggestions for a healthier policy mix and debate.