Understanding the Demand for Illegal Drugs
Peter Reuter, Editor
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This project was supported by Contract Grant No. 2001-MU-MU-0007 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2010). Understanding the Demand for Illegal Drugs. Committee on Understanding and Controlling the Demand for Illegal Drugs, P. Reuter, Ed. Committee on Law and Justice. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
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COMMITTEE ON UNDERSTANDING AND CONTROLLING THE DEMAND FOR ILLEGAL DRUGS 2007
PETER REUTER (Chair),
School of Public Policy and Department of Criminology, University of Maryland
JAMES C. ANTHONY,
Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
RICHARD J. BONNIE,
Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, University of Virginia
Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University
TERRIE E. MOFFITT,
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University
School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
MAXINE L. STITZER,
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
CAROL PETRIE, Study Director
LINDA DePUGH, Administrative Assistant
BARBARA BOYD, Administrative Associate
COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE 2010
JAMES Q. WILSON (Chair),
Clough Center, Department of Political Science, Boston College and Pepperdine University
PHILIP J. COOK (Vice Chair),
Stanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University
CARL C. BELL,
Community Mental Health Council, Inc., Chicago, IL
ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD,
Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
JANET L. LAURITSEN,
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri
GLENN C. LOURY,
Department of Economics, Brown University
CHARLES F. MANSKI,
Department of Economics, Northwestern University
TRACEY L. MEARES,
Yale Law School, Yale University
TERRIE E. MOFFITT,
Department of Psychology, Duke University
RUTH D. PETERSON,
Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University
ROBERT J. SAMPSON,
Department of Sociology, Harvard University
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Department of Administration of Justice, George Mason University
PAUL K. WORMELI,
Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, Ashburn, VA
JANE L. ROSS, Director
BARBARA BOYD, Administrative Associate
Almost 10 years ago, a National Research Council committee surveyed the data and research supporting the nation’s drug policy. The subtitle of the report, What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us, accurately summarized the committee’s pessimistic assessment. The available datasets, though numerous, provided inadequate coverage and the existing research in many areas was thin in quantity and weak in quality.
This more modest report, focused on just research needs to better understand the demand for drugs, unfortunately reinforces that pessimistic message. None of the major recommendations of the earlier report has been implemented. Though some data sets have been strengthened, particularly the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, others have deteriorated, notably the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring and the Drug Abuse Warning Network. There has been no expansion of research on the effects of enforcement, the major approach by which the United States attempts to control both the supply and demand for drugs.
The starting point for the current project is that, despite continued heavy investment in drug control, the demand for illegal drugs continues to be substantial. Within the bounds of very limited resources, the current committee has set out to identify what we do know about the sources of the continued demand and about how to improve that knowledge. It identifies what should be done to improve that knowledge. The commitment of the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to strengthening the science base for policy making and the designation of
drug-related morbidity and mortality as principal targets for policy making, give hope that the situation can be improved in the future.
This project would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of many individuals. The committee extends its appreciation and thanks especially to all the presenters and discussants who participated in our workshop: see the Appendix at the end of this report.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of the report: Linda B. Cottler, Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; Louisa Degenhardt, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia; Lee D. Hoffer, Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University; Robert MacCoun, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Charles P. O’Brien, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; Maureen O’Connor, Department of Psychology, John Jay College, and Doctoral Programs in Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York; and William Rhodes, Principal Scientist, Abt Associates.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Charles E. Phelps, University of Rochester (emeritus). Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution.
Peter Reuter, Chair
Committee on Understanding and Controlling the Demand for Illegal Drugs