tion of more effective policy tomorrow. With this in mind, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) requested the National Research Council (NRC) to convene a committee to study the data and research needed to inform national policy on illegal drugs. The Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs was formed in early 1998 under the aegis of the NRC’s Committee on Law and Justice and Committee on National Statistics. Its charge was to:

  1. assess existing data sources and recent research studies that support policy analysis;

  2. identify new data and research that may enable the development of more effective means of evaluating the consequences of alternative drug control policies; and

  3. explore ways to integrate theory and findings from diverse disciplines to increase understanding of drug abuse and the operation of drug markets.

This report represents the results of the committee’s work.

As part of its work, the committee earlier assessed in depth two studies that evaluated the cost-effectiveness of alternative drug control instruments in reducing domestic consumption of cocaine—one by analysts at RAND (Rydell and Everingham, 1994) and the other by analysts at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) (Crane, Rivolo, and Comfort, 1997). These two studies, which have drawn considerable attention, used very different methodologies and drew sharply different conclusions. The committee’s evaluation of the two studies was transmitted to the Office of National Drug Control Policy in April 1999 as its Phase I report, Assessment of Two Cost-Effectiveness Studies of Cocaine Control Policy.1 The Executive Summary of the Phase I report, which describes the committee’s main findings, is included in this volume as Appendix C.


As a prelude to discussion of the scope and themes of the report, we think it helpful to review how the prevailing perspectives on drug control


Points of view different from that of the committee regarding its Phase I Report are expressed in comments received from some of the authors of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and RAND studies. These comments are available to the public in the NRC public access file for this project. All references in both the Phase I and final reports to the IDA analysis or findings are based solely on the 1997 IDA report by Crane, Rivolo, and Comfort. All references to the RAND analysis or findings are based solely on the 1994 RAND report by Rydell and Everingham.

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