Welcome to the RAND Drug Policy Research Center

Providing decisionmakers with rigorous, nonpartisan research on substance use and drug policy

Since 1989, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center has conducted research to help decisionmakers in the United States and throughout the world address issues involving alcohol and other drugs. In doing so, the Center brings an objective and data-driven perspective to this often emotional and fractious policy arena.

Recent Commentaries

  • In Opioid Policy, One Size Does Not Fit All

    To solve America's opioid crisis, policymakers will need to view the epidemic as an “ecosystem,” where policies that target only one part of the problem can have unintended consequences.

  • How Will Cannabis Legalization Affect Alcohol Consumption?

    How will legalization of recreational marijuana affect alcohol consumption? Will drinking go down because people substitute cannabis for alcohol? Or will drinking go up because cannabis and alcohol complement each other? These questions have important implications.

  • Evidence-Based Treatments May Be Casualties of War on Drugs

    U.S. schools and community organizations face a difficult battle to keep kids safe and drug-free. They need tools to help them choose programs that will work best for youth. The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices is such a tool, but its future is uncertain.

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

    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?

  • Should California Drop Criminal Penalties for Drug Possession?

    Californians have a lot to consider when it comes to decriminalizing possession. But now is the time for a rigorous discussion about removing criminal penalties for drug possession, rather than rushing to judgment in the heat of a future election season.

  • The Future of Cannabis in the Netherlands

    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.

  • The Legal Marijuana Middle Ground

    There are many ways to legalize marijuana supply besides the for-profit approach. But to learn what effects various models have, the federal government will have to make it easier for states to implement some middle-ground options.

  • Drug Dependence: Treatment Over Incarceration

    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.

  • What Your Kids Need to Know About Marijuana, Legalized or Not

    If you are a parent, no matter how you feel about legalizing marijuana, you need to be prepared to talk about the drug with your kids.

  • Dark Web Likely Isn't Fuelling International Drug Sales

    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.

  • Should Some Californians Lose Their 'License to Drink'?

    In California, many efforts to reduce repeat drunken driving focus on the driving. What if the state targeted the “drunk” aspect instead?

Browse All Drug Policy and Trends Commentary

RAND DPRC Research Making an Impact

L.A. Holds Hearing on Proposed Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

Citing research by Liz D'Amico and a host of other RAND researchers, the City of Los Angeles is proposing an ordinance that recommends restricting cannabis advertising near schools and other "sensitive locations," including alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities, public libraries, public parks, schools, and residentially zoned property. A public hearing was held on December 14, 2017.

Funding for the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic

Rosalie Pacula testified before the House Appropriations Committee about the evidence and effectiveness of different drug policy strategies for addressing the opioid epidemic.

Cannabis Legislation in Canada

Beau Kilmer provided testimony to the Canadian legislature on different alternatives to prohibition, including considerations for prices, taxes, and international implications.

Medical Marijuana Policy in Florida

Rosalie Pacula testified before the Florida House of Representatives Health & Human Services Committee on medical marijuana regulation, including topics of supply structure, commercialization, and potential impact on youth.