where necessary. Accordingly, at the request of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Research Council established the Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs. The committee was given the charge to:
assess existing data sources and recent research studies that support policy analysis;
identify new data and research that may enable the development of more effective means of evaluating the consequences of alternative drug control policies; and
explore ways to integrate theory and findings from diverse disciplines to increase understanding of drug abuse and the operation of drug markets.
The committee’s general findings are presented in this, its final report. An earlier Phase I report presented the committee’s technical assessment of two studies of cocaine control policy that have played prominent roles in recent policy discussions.
Some of the committee’s recommendations, discussed below, are addressed to specific government agencies; it is important to understand, from the outset, how the committee went about assigning responsibility to certain agencies in some instances. As the committee formulated each of its many recommendations, we deliberated about how the recommendations might best be implemented. In particular, we considered which of the numerous existing federal statistical and research agencies might most appropriately be charged with the task of implementing the recommendations. The committee was informed in these deliberations by the presentations of agency representatives in committee-sponsored workshops as well as by the familiarity of committee members and staff with the operation of the relevant agencies. In some cases, the committee had sufficient institutional understanding to be able to recommend that a particular agency or group of agencies be charged with a particular task. In other cases, the committee has not named implementing agencies because it would be too speculative and perhaps even counterproductive for it to do so.
Overall the committee finds that the existing drug use monitoring systems and programs of research are useful for some important purposes, yet they are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make. The central problem is a woeful lack of investment in programs of data collection and empirical research that would enable evaluation of the nation’s investment in drug law enforcement. We begin with this most critical matter and then turn to other