Illegal Drug Trade

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RAND has studied the impact of policy measures on the problem of illicit drugs; offered recommendations on supply-reduction efforts; and considered the possible effects of marijuana legalization or decriminalization on drug trafficking revenues and on drug-related violence.

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents patrol along the international border between Mexico and the United States near San Diego, California, photo by Reuters/Mike Blake

    Report

    Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations

    Mar 20, 2014

    New and innovative intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for the military could also be used by the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration to help secure the southern U.S. border.

  • Fotolia_55997807_Subscription_Monthly_XXL

    Report

    What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs

    Mar 10, 2014

    Each year, drug users in the U.S. spend about $100 billion on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. This has been stable over the decade, but there have been important shifts. In 2000, users spent much more on cocaine than marijuana; in 2010, the opposite was true.

Explore Illegal Drug Trade

  • Soldiers escort Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City, February 22, 2014

    Commentary

    El Chapo's Prison Escape Should Come as No Surprise

    Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel and similar criminal organizations have long used tunnels to literally undermine security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Jul 24, 2015

  • Service members train with the Shadow remotely piloted aircraft system, Feb. 6, 2014

    Report

    Air National Guard Remotely Piloted Aircraft and Domestic Missions

    Air National Guard remotely piloted aircraft — or drones — may be useful in responding to a variety of domestic threats and potential emergencies. However, there are congressional concerns, as well as operational and policy constraints to be addressed.

    Jun 22, 2015

  • Afghan children gather raw opium in a poppy field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, April 28, 2015

    Report

    Reducing Opium Poppy Cultivation in Southern Afghanistan

    What's driving opium poppy cultivation in southern Afghanistan? And how might rural development, eradication, and other programs affect farmers' decisions to cultivate?

    Jun 17, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Mexico Is Not Colombia: Seeking More Productive Analogies for Responding to the Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations

    This article compares the security situation in Mexico to historical examples of similar situations in a range of other states.

    Feb 16, 2015

  • Report

    Building the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force Tecún Umán: Lessons Identified

    USSOUTHCOM intends to use the Interagency Task Force (IATF) Tecún Umán as a model for new counternarcotics units in Guatemala. This report describes lessons learned from the IATF and provides recommendations for resolving challenges.

    Feb 9, 2015

  • Marijuana-infused candies at a store in Colorado, January 2014

    Report

    Options and Issues Regarding Marijuana Legalization

    Marijuana legalization is a controversial and multifaceted issue that is now the subject of serious debate. Policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model seen in Colorado and Washington State.

    Jan 21, 2015

  • Research Brief

    The Marijuana Legalization Debate: Insights for Vermont

    Marijuana policy should not be viewed as a binary choice between prohibition and the for-profit commercial model seen in Colorado and Washington. Legalization encompasses a wide range of possible regimes.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • Customers shop for "Green Friday" deals in Denver, Colorado, November 28, 2014

    Report

    Insights for Vermont and Other States Considering Marijuana Legalization

    If Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated. There are pros and cons to all policy options as well as uncertainty about how different forms of legalization will affect public health and safety.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • News Release

    Options and Issues Regarding Marijuana Legalization in Vermont

    If Vermont chooses to remove its prohibition on producing and selling marijuana, lawmakers will have many choices to make about who will supply it, who can buy it, if and how it will be taxed, and how it will be regulated. There are pros and cons to all policy options as well as uncertainty about how different forms of legalization will affect public health and safety.

    Jan 16, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Are Users' Most Recent Drug Purchases Representative?

    Various surveys now ask respondents to describe their most recent purchase of illicit drugs, as one mechanism through which market size can be estimated. This raises the question of whether issues surrounding the timing of survey administration might make a sample of most recent purchases differ from a random sample of all purchases.

    Aug 4, 2014

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

    Commentary

    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

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents patrol along the international border between Mexico and the United States near San Diego, California, photo by Reuters/Mike Blake

    Report

    Improving Interagency Information Sharing Using Technology Demonstrations

    New and innovative intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for the military could also be used by the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration to help secure the southern U.S. border.

    Mar 18, 2014

  • drugs and money

    Research Brief

    How Big Is the U.S. Market for Illegal Drugs?

    In order to think sensibly about illicit drug markets, policymakers need to have some idea of how big those markets are. This helps estimate revenues going to criminal organizations, improve treatment and prevention decisions, and evaluate drug policies.

    Mar 10, 2014

  • News Release

    U.S. Cocaine Consumption Declines by Half, While Marijuana Use Jumps

    From 2006 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed by Americans increased by more than 30 percent, while cocaine consumption fell by about half. Meanwhile, heroin use was fairly stable throughout the decade.

    Mar 10, 2014

  • Syringe, spoon and lighter, concept of drug addiction

    Report

    What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs

    Each year, drug users in the U.S. spend about $100 billion on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. This has been stable over the decade, but there have been important shifts. In 2000, users spent much more on cocaine than marijuana; in 2010, the opposite was true.

    Mar 7, 2014

  • crime, weed, natural, hemp, health, green, marijuana, nature, drugs, cannabis, grass, addiction

    Report

    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

  • Mexico border

    Commentary

    If U.S.-Mexico Get Security Right, Other Good Policy Will Follow

    Obama and Peña Nieto emphasized economic cooperation at their summit not because security issues have gone away, but because the new rules of the game in this nascent relationship between the two leaders are evolving, writes Agnes Gereben Schaefer.

    May 29, 2013

  • protest against violence in Juarez, Mexico

    Commentary

    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

  • The towns of Nogales, Ariz., left, and Nogales, Mexico, stand separated by a high concrete and steel fence

    Commentary

    Legalization and Border Security: Are We There Yet?

    The White House and a bipartisan group of senators recently unveiled proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. The proposal raises a number of questions, says Peter Brownell: How would success in securing the border actually be determined? Would it mean absolutely zero unauthorized immigration across U.S. borders?

    Feb 7, 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