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BEDREHELSE-Bedre helse og livskvalitet

Values, beliefs and policy options: Beyond prevalence-centric prohibitions

Alternative title: Verdier, oppfatninger og virkemidler i rusmiddelpolitikken

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

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2015 - 2020


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Which values and concerns matter for drug policy, and what kind of regulatory regime do they point towards? To assess this, we convened a decision analysis workshop with a group of researchers and drug policy experts. The workshop had three goals: List relevant concerns and values, define a set of generic, broadly applicable regulatory regimes, and score these regimes on each of the identified criteria. The scoring was done separately for alcohol and cannabis, and indicated that the best regulatory option for both was a strict regulatory regime with legal access. The work was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Cannabis policy was also the focus of an article analyzing key trade-offs faced in cannabis policy. This was done within a traditional cost-benefit economic analysis, with a particular emphasis on how the conclusions would be influenced by different assumptions regarding market structure, decision making biases and dependence. The article concluded that an economic analysis pointed towards a carefully regulated legal access model. The work was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Impaired driving remains a key concern amongst policy-makers, and in a meta-analysis co-written with the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research and published in Addiction, the increased risk of crashes for those with THC from cannabis above low threshold levels was found to be low to moderate. The article also showed how substantially higher estimates from two earlier meta-analyses were strongly exaggerated as a result of methodological flaws. As a result of this work, a second methodological article was published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, showing how a common but often misinterpreted research design in traffic epidemiology could be analysed in a more intuitive way. In line with the broader meta-analysis mentioned above (which also included other designs), this work found THC to be associated with low to moderate risk increases. A very different methodological contribution suggested a new way to empirically assess risk information, illustrated with data on how information on Swedish Snuff from Norwegian Health Authorities influenced people?s risk perceptions. The work found that information from the public health authorities made respondents inflate already inflated risk estimates for snus, thus underestimating the potential health benefits a cigarette smoker could have from switching. The work was published in the Internationa Journal of Drug Policy.

Arbeidene på ruspolitiske avveininger har bidratt til den pågående utviklingen av analyseverktøy på feltet, og har blitt presentert for politiske partier, rusreformutvalget og interesserte organisasjoner gjennom foredrag og workshops. Meta-analysen på trafikkrisiko ved cannabis var en sentral kilde på dette temaet da det amerikanske vitenskapsakademiet oppsummerte forskningen på cannabis. Metodepaperet på culpability-studier i epidemiologisk trafikkforskning har ført til faglig samarbeid med kanadiske forskere, med videreutvikling av metoden som hovedmål.

While drug policy was long dominated by a prevalence-focused criminal justice approach, recent years has seen increased policy variation as legislatures in America and Europe have adjusted policy to take account of the health and welfare of users, harms associated with illegal markets and the costs of enforcement policies. The project aims at improving the foundation for policy judgments. Drug policy is a complex field, in that policies have effects on a variety of different outcomes. Considered policy judgments will thus reflect values (the outcomes emphasized and their relative weight), causal models (harms, costs and benefits of policies), and which policy menu one sees as politically relevant. We will develop a sets of empirical indicators that measure current policy efforts and current outcomes, structured so as to improve policy by clarifying relevant tradeoffs. Finally, in line with the project's core idea that a broader set of outcomes need to be considered by policy, we will examine a broad set of social and economic outcomes of opiate maintenance treatment (OMT), and examine effects treatment programs may have on non-participants and overdose mortality through their effect on e.g. drug markets.

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BEDREHELSE-Bedre helse og livskvalitet