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

  • Bags of fentanyl at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, November 29, 2017, photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

    China's Ban on Fentanyl Drugs Won't Likely Stem America's Opioid Crisis

    Given China's recent decision to ban the unauthorized manufacture of fentanyl, authorities there appear to recognize a growing problem. But China cannot solve the U.S. opioid problem. The United States could do more to reduce demand for opioids as well as drug users' exposure to these powerful drugs.

  • Used Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride) containers and syringes sit in a case, after paramedics revived a man in his 40s, who was found unresponsive, after overdosing on opioids in Salem, Massachusetts, August 9, 2017, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    (Grey's) Anatomy of an Opioid Crisis

    More than 130 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids. So when one of the most popular shows on TV made opioid misuse a major plotline, RAND experts paid attention to how it presented this public health crisis. The show mirrored reality pretty closely, for the narrow slice of the opioid crisis it addressed.

  • RAND physician policy researcher Tisamarie Sherry discusses the U.S. opioid crisis at a RAND event in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2019, photo by Michael Reed Photography

    A Holistic Approach to Solving the Opioid Crisis

    While federal, state and, local governments deploy strategies to tackle the opioid crisis, the problem continues to proliferate. RAND researchers suggest that these strategies fail to solve the larger problem because they've largely been developed in silos. The opioid crisis is an ecosystem, and mitigating the problem will require a holistic approach.

  • Doctor and patient discussing medication

    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.

  • A customer browses screens displaying recreational marijuana products at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California, January 2, 2018

    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.

  • Elementary school with drug free school zone sign

    Another Barrier to Evidence-Based Drug Prevention and Treatment?

    U.S. schools and community organizations face a difficult battle to reduce youth substance use and they need tools to help them choose programs that will work best for their youth.

  • A syringe over Euro notes

    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?

  • A man being arrested for drug possession

    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.

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

    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.

  • Displays at Shango Cannabis shop on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Portland, Oregon, October 1, 2015

    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.

  • Handcuffed man standing in a courtroom

    Alternative Sanctions for Drug Offenses in Europe

    Despite the availability of alternative sanctions for drug offenses in Europe, important barriers still exist. More quality research on alternatives to incarceration could help police, prosecutors, and judges expand their options.

  • A closeup of cannabis

    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.

  • A man counting pills on his laptop

    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.

  • A police officer holds a pen and conducts a field sobriety test on a motorist

    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

Evolution of the U.S. Overdose Crisis

Bryce Pardo testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on the role of synthetic opioids in the U.S. overdose crisis.

Funding to Address 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.

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.

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.