Drug and Illicit Markets

Using innovative methods, we offer evidence-based insights into the size and nature of online and offline illicit markets and provide expert assessments on drug policy both nationally and internationally

Research, commentary, and events

  • Filter cigarettes on a heap of loose tobacco, Photo by Maren Winter info@maren-winter.de/Adobe Stock

    Project

    Identifying an approach to measure the illicit market for tobacco

    11 May 2021

    To capture the total volume of the illicit tobacco trade in the EU and member states, as well as distinguish between the legal and illegal market, types of tobacco products, and types of illicit trade, researchers propose a combination of five methods and three cross-validating resources.

  • Australian authorities aboard a vessel involved in a heroin raid in Sydney, October 15, 1998, photo by Reuters

    Commentary

    Australia Contained COVID-19 Early On. Can It Do the Same with Synthetic Opioids?

    30 Apr 2021

    Australia is at risk of a fentanyl problem, but it is better prepared than North America. If the country can make the same kind of concerted effort it did to keep COVID-19 at bay, that could save thousands of lives.

  • A pack of banknotes in hand with a face value of five hundred euros, photo by Evgeny Savchenko/Adobe Stock.

    Project

    Assessing the economic value of illicit markets in the EU

    22 Mar 2021

    The aggregate annual revenues of the nine main criminal markets in the EU ranged from €92 to €188 billion in 2019, according to research that examined the scale, actors, modus operandi and trends in these markets.

  • amsterdam, coffee shop, cannabis, maria, marijuana, bar, libero, libertà, canna, olanda, paesi bassi, orange, città, canale, luci rosse, quartiere, proibito, legge

    Project

    Evaluating the closed coffeeshop chain cannabis experiment in the Netherlands

    07 Jul 2020

    Researchers are examining the possible effects of a new experiment to cultivate and deliver quality-controlled cannabis through a closed supply chain for coffeeshops in the Netherlands.

  • Entry and crest of the Westminster Magistrates' Court

    Project

    Evaluating Sentencing Council guidelines for drug and theft offences

    28 Jun 2019

    At the request of the Sentencing Council, researchers assessed whether sentencing guidelines for specific drug and theft offences in England and Wales have an impact on sentencing outcomes and whether there are any issues with their implementation.

  • Recovery freeway exit sign

    Project

    Evaluation of drug and alcohol "payment by results" pilots

    03 May 2019

    Eight drug and alcohol recovery PbR pilots were evaluated to assess whether this new funding approach can stimulate the market to provide different services in these areas and encourage development of more effective recovery programmes.

  • Sign indicating desire to work

    Project

    Evaluating individual placement and support for alcohol and drug dependence

    03 Sep 2018

    IPS is an evidence-based programme that helps people with mental health challenges find employment. Public Health England is conducting a trial that expands the programme to help people in treatment for substance misuse. Our researchers are conducting a process evaluation of the trial.

  • A syringe over Euro notes

    Commentary

    Is the EU Drugs Strategy Helping to Curb the Harm Caused by Drugs?

    09 Jan 2018

    The EU Drugs Strategy takes a balanced approach to reduce drug demand, supply, and harm. All EU member states have a national drugs strategy, and most are aligned with the EU's. Having a coordinated voice on drug policy is valuable but is the strategy working?

  • Marijuana in the shape of Europe and a joint

    Project

    EU Should Renew Current Action Plan on Drugs

    15 Mar 2017

    To ensure that the objectives of the EU Drugs Strategy are achieved by 2020, the European Commission should renew its EU Action Plan on Drugs for the period 2017–2020 and continue to translate the current plan's high-level objectives into concrete action.

  • A marijuana joint on a coffeeshop table in Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Commentary

    The Future of Cannabis in the Netherlands

    01 Feb 2017

    The Netherlands should proceed cautiously in implementing any marijuana regulations, taking into account the models devised elsewhere and remembering that once enacted the rules will be difficult to change.

  • Handcuffed man standing in a courtroom

    Commentary

    Drug Dependence: Treatment Over Incarceration

    03 Oct 2016

    Drug dependence imposes significant costs to society and traditional criminal justice responses like imprisonment do not reduce crime. More quality research on alternative sanctions could help police, prosecutors, and judges expand their options while helping users get treatment.

  • A man counting pills on his laptop

    Commentary

    Dark Web Likely Isn't Fuelling International Drug Sales

    19 Sep 2016

    Vendors in the Netherlands have developed a fairly successful international trade of ecstasy-type drugs and stimulants from online markets, but it appears that most countries are selling illicit drugs within their own borders.

  • teenage,teenager,teen,drugs,couple,home,social issues,narcotics,smoking,joint,making,boy,girl,male,female,fifteen year old,sixteen year old,15 year old,16 year old,together,problem,indoors,horizontal,caucasian,drug abuse,cannabis,addiction,substance abuse,youth culture,two people

    Off Site

    Alice-Rap Reframes European Approach to Addiction

    14 Sep 2016

    The Addictions and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions Project was a 5-year EU effort to help policymakers rethink approaches to the human and economic costs of addictions by weaving the work of over 100 scientists in 25 countries into an integrated evidence base. RAND Europe analysed a variety of sources, including interviews with convicted drug offenders, to provide a better understanding of public sector corruption, market size, supply chains, and sales strategies.

  • Gavel and Pair of Handcuffs on Table

    Project

    Alternatives to Coercive Sanctions Show Promise for Drug Law Offences and Drug-Related Crime

    12 Sep 2016

    Alternatives to coercive sanctions (ACS) seems reduce drug use and reoffending, but the evidence is equivocal and some features could make ACS more effective. Also, several common barriers prevent the use of ACS in a number of EU member states.

  • Cyber drug dealer

    Project

    Online Drugs Trade Growing but Still Dwarfed by Traditional Markets

    05 Aug 2016

    Illegal drug transactions on cryptomarkets have tripled since 2013, with revenues doubling. But at $12-21 (€10.5-18.5) million a month, this is clearly a niche market compared to the traditional offline market, estimated at $2.3 (€2) billion a month in Europe alone.

  • Drug dealer taking money for heroine and ecstasy

    Project

    Alice-Rap reframes European approach to addiction

    24 May 2016

    RAND Europe led a research area within the Addictions and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions Project, a 5-year EU project to help policymakers rethink approaches to the human and economic costs of addictions by weaving the work of over 150 scientists in 25 countries into an integrated evidence base.