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White House Rejects RAND Study on Drug Treatment


July 1994

The Clinton administration rejected the findings of a major cocaine policy study that it ordered and funded. (Dennis Cauchon, "White House Balks at Study Urging More Drug Treatment," USA Today, 6/14/94, p. 2A). The study, conducted by the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, concludes that $3 billion should be slashed from federal and local law enforcement and switched to drug treatment programs. The report says treatment is the most cost effective method to cut drug use.

"Treatment is seven times more cost-effective than domestic drug enforcement in reducing cocaine use and 15 times more cost-effective in reducing the social costs of crime and lost productivity." ("Treatment Far More Cost-Effective Than Control In Cutting Cocaine Use, Social Costs, RAND Says," The National Report on Substance Abuse, 7/1/94, v. 8, No. 15, p. 2). The study found the cost- effectiveness of treatment for cocaine addiction is even greater when compared to source-country control (i.e., U.S. financed operations to eradicate crops and apprehend drug smugglers). It also concludes that treatment is the most effective way to lower violent crime.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House and the U.S. Army, the two sponsors of the study, attempted to get RAND to "soften its conclusion that money should be cut from law enforcement," said Jonathan Caulkins, the RAND research center's co-director. "We by and large ignored them," he said. The RAND study found that major law enforcement efforts have failed to curb cocaine usage, with consumption remaining constant at about 290 metric tons a year since 1985.

[The study is Controlling Cocaine: Supply versus Demand Programs by C. Peter Rydell and Susan S. Everingham. RAND publication MR-331-ONDCP/A/DPRC. It can be obtained from RAND in D.C., 202-296-5000 or RAND in Santa Monica, 310-451-7002, 310-451-6915 by fax, or via the Internet]