Drug Policies and Problems

The Promise and Pitfalls of Cross-National Comparison

by Robert J. MacCoun, Aaron Saiger, James P. Kahan, Peter Reuter

This is a brief essay about what cross-national comparisons can tell us about the relationship between drug policies and drug-related problems, and about some of the difficulties involved in making such comparisons. This essay reflects the authors' thinking and experience roughly halfway through a three-year cross-national study comparing drug policies and problem indicators across a number of Western industrialized nations. For reasons discussed, it would be premature to present preliminary statistical results in this essay; instead, the authors hope to stimulate curiosity about the experiences of other countries, and sensitivity as to the hazards of causal cross-national inference.

Originally published in: Psychoactive Drugs & Harm Reduction: From Faith to Science, London, 1993, pp. 103-117.

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