Drug policy and the public good: evidence for effective interventions

Lancet. 2012 Jan 7;379(9810):71-83. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61674-7.


Debates about which policy initiatives can prevent or reduce the damage that illicit drugs cause to the public good are rarely informed by scientific evidence. Fortunately, evidence-based interventions are increasingly being identified that are capable of making drugs less available, reducing violence in drug markets, lessening misuse of legal pharmaceuticals, preventing drug use initiation in young people, and reducing drug use and its consequences in established drug users. We review relevant evidence and outline the likely effects of fuller implementation of existing interventions. The reasoning behind the final decisions for action might be of a non-scientific nature, focused more on what the public and policy-makers deem of value. Nevertheless, important opportunities exist for science to inform these deliberations and guide the selection of policies that maximise the public good.

MeSH terms

  • Drug and Narcotic Control*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Policy*
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*


  • Illicit Drugs