Economics of Drug Policy and the Drug War

36. Treatment - 3-16-10

"Domestic enforcement costs 4 times as much as treatment for a given amount of user reduction, 7 times as much for consumption reduction, and 15 times as much for societal cost reduction."

Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., Controlling Cocaine, Prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the United States Army (Santa Monica, CA: Drug Policy Research Center, RAND Corporation, 1994), p. xvi.

37. Historical Prices of Illicit Drugs

"In summary, prices for powder cocaine, crack, and heroin declined sharply in the 1980s and have declined more gradually since then, with periodic interruptions by modest price spikes that have usually persisted for a year or less. For d-methamphetamine, the pattern is broadly similar, but the price spikes appear to be larger and longer-lasting, particularly for 1989–1991. Marijuana prices have followed a very different pattern, increasing from 1981 to 1991, then declining through 2000 and increasing over the past three years."

Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003" (Washington DC: Executive Office of the President, November 2004), Publication Number NCJ 207768, p. vii.

38. Drug-Related Public Expenditures in the EU


"Economic analysis can be an important tool for policy evaluation, although the limited information available on drug-related public expenditure in Europe represents a major obstacle and makes comparison between countries difficult. For the 16 countries that have produced estimates since 2002, drug-related public expenditure ranges from 0.01% to 0.5% of their gross domestic product (GDP). From the information available, it appears that the largest share of drug-related public expenditure is allocated to drug supply reduction activities (Figure 4.4).
"Public expenditure on supply reduction includes, among other things, expenditure on drug-law offenders in prisons. The EMCDDA calculated a range of estimates, where the low estimate considers only those prisoners who have been sentenced for a drug-law offence and the high estimate also includes pre-trial prisoners who may be sentenced for a drug-law offence. Applying these criteria, European countries spent an estimated 0.03% of GDP, or EUR 3.7 billion, on drug-law offenders in prison in 2010. Including pre-trial prisoners, the estimate rises to 0.05% of GDP or EUR 5.9 billion."

European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, "European Drug Report 2014: Trends and Developments" (Lisbon, Portugal: EMCDDA, 2014), p. 70.

39. State and Local Spending on Prisons

"In 2003, 7.2% of total State and local expenditures was for justice activities – 3% for police protection, 2.6% for corrections, and 1.5% for judicial and legal services (figure 3).
"By comparison, 29% of State and local government spending went to education, 14% to public welfare, 7% to health and hospitals, and 4% to interest on debt."

Hughes, Kristen A., "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2003" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2006), NCJ212260, p. 4.

40. Drug Control Expenditures Through the 1990s

"The most recent figures available from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) indicate that, in 1999, federal expenditures on control of illegal drugs surpassed $17 billion; combined expenditures by federal, state, and local governments exceeded $30 billion. What is more, the nation's so-called 'drug war' is a protracted one. The country has spent roughly this amount annually throughout the 1990s."

National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, "Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us" (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001), p. 1.