Drug Policy and Trends


RAND researchers provide objective analyses of problems and policies related to illegal drugs — including nonmedical use of prescription drugs, marijuana legalization or decriminalization, racial disparities in drug-related incarceration rates, community prevention efforts, and strategies for reducing drug-related violence in Mexico and Central America.

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    Helping Communities Identify and Develop Effective Drug Policies

    May 20, 2012

    The RAND Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC) helps community leaders and public officials develop more effective ways of dealing with drug problems. DPRC provides a firm, empirical foundation on which sound drug policies can be built.

Explore Drug Policy and Trends

  • marijuana plants growing


    RAND to Study Marijuana Legalization in Vermont

    Researchers from RAND will study the issues related to potentially legalizing the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana in Vermont. Beau Kilmer met with state Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and other officials this week to discuss the study.

    Jul 23, 2014

  • Employees stock their shelves with 2-gram packages of marijuana at Cannabis City during the first day of legal retail marijuana sales in Seattle, Washington July 8, 2014


    Taking a Sober Look at Legalizing Marijuana

    California and a handful of other states will probably vote on legal pot in 2016. Whether it passes will depend on the quality of the proposal, how much money is involved in the campaigns, and how things play out in Colorado, Washington and other places that have legalized production and sales.

    Jul 13, 2014

  • People participate in the so-called "last demonstration with illegal marijuana" in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, Uruguay, December 10, 2013


    Are We Entering a New Era of Cannabis Regulation?

    Although international drug treaties prohibit the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes, several jurisdictions have implemented new laws and policies, including some that remove criminal penalties for possession of small doses of cannabis.

    May 22, 2014

  • Nate Johnson, managing owner of the Queen Anne Cannabis Club in Seattle, Washington


    Legalising Cannabis Is More Than Just a Yes or No Decision

    Any truly honest discussion about how to regulate cannabis markets must start with clear objectives and goals. How these markets are opened can be as important as the decision to legalise cannabis.

    May 2, 2014

  • Proprietors of the first marijuana retailers licensed to sell pot for recreational use in Colorado


    The Feds' Role After Legalization

    Since Colorado and Washington allow profit-maximizing firms to grow and sell marijuana, there is concern they will use advertising to promote consumption by heavy users. With help from the federal government, the states will be better positioned to head off the negative consequences associated with commercialization.

    Jan 15, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Why Changes in Price Matter When Thinking About Marijuana Policy: A Review of the Literature on the Elasticity of Demand

    Recent debates regarding liberalization of marijuana policies often rest on assumptions regarding the extent to which such policy changes would lead to a change in marijuana consumption and by whom.

    Jan 1, 2014

  • cannabis


    Multinational Overview of Cannabis Production Regimes

    Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, this international stocktaking of cannabis production includes a special focus on identifying and describing official policies on production regimes for non-medical and non-scientific purposes.

    Dec 23, 2013

  • News Release

    Marijuana Consumption in Washington State Twice as Large as Previously Estimated

    In Washington state, marijuana consumption likely will range from 135 to 225 metric tons during 2013. Understanding the current market should help state policymakers with decisions about the number of marijuana sales licenses to issue, to project tax revenues, and provide a foundation for assessments of legalization.

    Dec 18, 2013

  • A vendor displays products at the High Times U.S. Cannabis Cup in Seattle, Washington September 8, 2013. The Cup features exhibitions as well as a marijuana growing competition.


    Marijuana Consumption in Washington State Twice as Large as Previously Estimated

    In Washington state, marijuana consumption likely will range from 135 to 225 metric tons during 2013. Understanding the current market should help state policymakers with decisions about the number of marijuana sales licenses to issue, to project tax revenues, and provide a foundation for assessments of legalization.

    Dec 17, 2013

  • Inmates_Orleans_Parish_Prison


    New Approach to Prison and the War on Drugs

    If you want to reduce cocaine consumption and drug-related crime, you get more bang for the buck if you put money into treatment rather than paying for the increase in incarceration produced by federal mandatory minimum sentences, writes Beau Kilmer.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • rally to legalize marijuana


    Developing Public Health Regulations for Legal Marijuana

    At a RAND Drug Policy Research Center program, health policy professors as well as economists and behavioral scientists talked about how to develop public health regulations for legal marijuana.

    Jun 26, 2013

  • protest against violence in Juarez, Mexico


    Legalization in the U.S. and Crime in Mexico

    Driving Mexican marijuana out of the U.S. would probably reduce the traffickers' export revenue by a few billion dollars a year, writes Beau Kilmer. But would reducing that revenue lead to a corresponding decrease in trafficker violence?

    May 23, 2013

  • Visuals showing suppprt for marijuana legalization in Washington state and how tax revenues will benefit the community


    7 Key Questions on Marijuana Legalization

    Policymakers in Washington and Colorado are confronting some new and tricky issues that have never been addressed. For them, and for anyone else thinking about changing their pot laws, there are seven key decision areas that will shape the costs and benefits of marijuana legalization.

    Apr 26, 2013

  • rally to legalize marijuana


    Ask Me Anything: Beau Kilmer Answers Drug Policy Questions on Reddit

    Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and coauthor of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, hosted an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit this week. He fielded questions from participants on a variety of drug policy issues.

    Apr 26, 2013

  • Blog

    Drug Cartels an X-Factor for Obama, Peña Nieto

    Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and President Obama both face daunting domestic challenges and have ambitious domestic agendas, but both presidents are savvy politicians who realize that each will benefit from the other's success, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Feb 20, 2013

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    Conference and Webcast on Public Health Regulations for Marijuana

    Initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana leave local, state, and federal policymakers facing new questions. To help leaders better understand the possible consequences, DPRC researchers moderated a forum in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 2013, about developing public health regulations for marijuana.

    Feb 11, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Managing Potential Conflict in Illegal Markets: An Exploratory Study of Cocaine Smuggling in the Netherlands

    Analyzing 31 police investigations from the Netherlands, we found data on 33 incidents involving failure of cocaine smuggling related transactions and the subsequent outcome. We examined these incidents for the use of violence and threats.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    'Polymorphous Criminal Networks': Considering Criminal Groups' Engagement Across Markets

    At a time when drug policy and law enforcement regimes for tackling illicit markets are in a state of flux, it is important to understand how changes in the treatment of one type of illicit activity or substance may impact others.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Insights About Cannabis Production and Distribution Costs in the EU

    This report demonstrates how cannabis prices increase across the supply chain in the EU as distributors take additional mark ups to compensate themselves not only for shipping costs but also for the risks they assume.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Estimating the Size of the EU Cannabis Market

    This report generates estimates of retail cannabis expenditure in the EU using new data about cannabis consumption and expenditures from a web survey conducted in seven Member States.

    Jan 1, 2013