BF Reports


The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme commissions reports and briefing papers on subjects relevant to the consideration of national and international drug policy. The first products of this programme of work were published and distributed in April 2004, and subsequent papers are being produced on a quarterly basis. These materials have been disseminated around the world, promoting a balanced and evidence-based debate.

The reports are commissioned and published in order to cast light on the key policy questions:

  • Is the international community making progress in its stated aim of significantly reducing the use of illicit psychoactive substances?
  • Are there any new approaches to reducing the supply of drugs that can be more effective in the future?
  • Can widespread drug use be managed without severe health and social damage?
  • What policy frameworks are likely to be most effective in the future?


XVI – The Incarceration of Drug Offenders: An Overview
Here we provide an overview of some of the available incarceration data from around the world and bring together much contemporary research on the topic. A great deal of the discussion concerns one of the most enthusiastic supporters of incarceration as a drug prevention measure. However, we suggest that the results of policy within the United States should be used as evidence to encourage other member states not to follow this route, and we call for an adjustment of the UN system to make it easier for them to find other ways of managing the problem.

XV – Drug Market and Urban Violence: Can tackling one reduce the other?
One of the most worrying aspects of the global trade in illicit drugs is the link to urban violence. This is a leading cause of death in many countries. It is also linked to other harms, such as morbidity, reductions in economic growth and the opportunity costs of investments in incarceration, police forces and private security which attempt to control violence. On this Report we look specifically at the strength of the link between drug markets and urban violence, and policies and tactics that can be used to reduce this link.

XIV – Understanding Drug Markets And How To Influence Them
This latest report in the Beckley series looks at the operation of middle-level drug dealers, and how their behaviour is influenced by the activities of the law enforcement agencies. Based on a small number of studies that have been carried out in this field, the report finds that, while it is unlikely that law enforcement action can achieve long term and sustainable reductions in the overall scale of a drug market, properly targeted activities can impact on the nature of the market, and affect the behaviour of dealers and trafficking organisations.

XIII – Recalibrating the Regime – The Need for a Human Rights-Based Approach to International Drug Policy
This report – a collaborative effort between several drugs, health, and human rights NGOs, looks at the tensions between some aspects of the global drug control system, and UN human rights standards. The authors point out that, despite numerous instances of human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of drug control, there has been little engagement with this issue by the responsible bodies, the UNODC, INCB and the Human Rights treaty bodies.

XII – Prisons & Drugs
This report describes the high rates of drug problems in all prison systems, summarises the current state of global knowledge and research evidence, and provides a guide for policymakers on how to develop effective policies and programmes in this area.

XI – The funding of the united nations office on drugs and crime; an unfinished jigsaw.
This report aims to provide a broad and accessible summary of the UNODC funding situation since 2002. It includes an outline of the budget process, sources of funding and recent spending patterns. The authors also explore some of the negative consequences resulting from the current funding dynamic and argue that problems associated with limited UNODC funding from the UN regular budget are being exacerbated by donor’s increasing proclivity to earmark their voluntary contributions.

X – Treatment for dependant drug use.
This report aims to give policymakers an accessible summary of the current evidence available on the effectiveness of treatment, and suggestions on how treatment services can be expanded and integrated into a co-ordinated system. The authors explain why treatment for dependent drug use is a good investment in any country with significant numbers of dependent drug users, in that it has been shown to achieve significant reductions in the health and social harms that are associated with drug problems.

IX – Monitoring drug policy outcomes: The measurement of drug related harm
This report describes various attempts by governments and academic institutions to develop a methodology for assessing and measuring the level of drug related harm, in order to better understand the impact of illegal drug use on society, and of policies and programmes that aim to reduce that impact. The authors find that several current initiatives have the potential to develop workable methodologies, but that there is currently little methodological consistency or sharing of best practice between experts.

VIII – Cannabis and Mental Health Responses to the Emerging Evidence
This report reviews the global situation regarding Cannabis cultivation and use, with particular reference to recent debates around the variable THC content of Cannabis products, and the link between use of the drug and mental health problems such as schizophrenia and psychosis.

VII – The International Narcotics Control Board: Watchdog or Guardian of the UN Drug Control Conventions?
The International Narcotics Control Board is charged with monitoring the implementation of the three United Nations Conventions and of alerting member states and the international community to weaknesses in the system. There is growing discontent with the unbalanced nature of its contribution to the sensitive debates surrounding the issue of illegal drug markets and how best to respond to them.

VI – Facing the future: The Challenge For National and International Drug Policy.
This report draws together the findings from the series of reports and briefing papers produced under the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme in the last 18 months. It concludes that there are significant limitations in the achievements and likely future progress of current drug policies that focus on supply reduction and law enforcement, but that there is much that governments and international agencies can do to address the consequences of widespread drug use amongst their citizens. The report sets out a series of challenges and recommendations to policymakers that they must confront, if we are to see a reduction in drug related harm in the coming years.

V – Reducing Drug Related Crime: An Overview of the Global Evidence
This report looks at the global evidence base for the reduction of drug related crime. The report looks at three types of drug related crime (violence associated with illegal drug markets, crimes committed by individuals under the influence of drugs, and petty crime committed by drug users to pay for their drug purchases), and attempts to summarise the current research knowledge on which policies and actions have (or have not) been effective in reducing their impacts on society. The report concludes that many drug policy initiatives that have been designed to reduce drug related crime have had little or no impact, but there are some promising signs of success with treatment based, or general crime reduction approaches. [Spanish]

IV – Reducing Drug Related Harms to Health: A Review of the Global Evidence
This report looks at the various ways in which the use of illegal drugs causes harm to individual and public health. It then attempts to summarise the current state of the global evidence base for the effectiveness of programmes designed to reduce these harms, and focuses on some key challenges for policymakers in areas of the world facing high levels of HIV and Hepatitis infection, and accidental overdose deaths. [Spanish]

III – Law Enforcement and Supply Reduction
This report looks at the approach to drug policy that has dominated the field for much of the past 40 years, and is sometimes characterised – and, to some degree, caricatured – as the ‘war on drugs’ approach. [Spanish]

II – Assessing Drug Policy: Principles & Practice
This report considers good practice in objective setting and evaluation. It argues that drug policies should be evaluated against their successes and failures in reducing drug-related harm; and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of some existing evaluation frameworks. [Spanish]

I – Towards a Review of Global Policies on Illegal Drugs
This report discusses the global drug control system – particularly the role of the United Nations – and the challenges confronting drug policy. It argues that the current system is not achieving its stated objective: to eradicate completely – or even substantially reduce – illicit drug markets. [Spanish] [French]

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