Developing Games of Local Drug Policy
Drug policies are created and implemented by a wide range of public agencies with very different interests and objectives. However, there is often little communication among agencies, and thus decisions in one policy sector may lead to profound and unexpected problems in another. This Note describes the design and results of two test runs of a seminar "game" developed by RAND to help policymakers better understand the consequences of their decisions. During a three-day exercise, players study the changing drug problems of a hypothetical community, design policies to improve the situation, and observe the effects of their decisions. The test runs demonstrated a number of important lessons. For example: (1) policies that are attractive on the surface may be severely flawed in other ways; (2) being on the same side of the drug problem does not necessarily mean that all will agree on a particular strategy; (3) it is difficult for the enforcement and treatment sectors to interact effectively; and (4) policymaking is the art of continually balancing tradeoffs among one's own and others' priorities.