Drug Policy

Advising government agencies, foundations, and research firms on marijuana legalization, drug control policies, and substance abuse

Our Goal

Control substance use disorder without creating violent illicit markets and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of dealers and users.

Our Solutions

  • Allow adult access to cannabis for moderate use while preventing commercialization.
  • Manage tobacco regulation, taxation, and enforcement strategically to limit the size of the illicit market while controlling violence and the growth of dangerous criminal organizations.
  • Preclude criminal treatment for drug users whose only offense is drug possession and reduce sentences for nonviolent drug law violations.
  • Redirect drug law enforcement to minimizing violence and disorder.
  • Use focused-deterrence to break up disorderly and violent drug markets.
  • For drug-involved offenders, mandate desistance—not treatment.
  • Raise alcohol taxes.

Our Clients

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

2015: the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), an administrative agency in the executive branch of the state, hired BOTEC to provide an estimate of the size of the medical cannabis market. Following the passage of Senate Bill 5052, the WSLCB was tasked with regulating both the existing commercial market for cannabis as well as the medical cannabis market. Up to that point, the medical cannabis market was largely unregulated and information about market size was scant. BOTEC conducted an anonymous survey of dispensaries and created a theoretical model to provide its estimate. Read the report here:

Estimating the Size of the Medical Cannabis Market in Washington State

2013: The WSLCB selected BOTEC Analysis Corporation as consultant for the implementation of Initiative 502, Washington’s voter initiative to legalize and regulate cannabis. Previous to the passage of Initiative 502, the board’s primary function was the licensing of on and off premise establishments which sell any type of alcohol, and the enforcement and education of the state’s alcohol and tobacco laws. Read the reports here:

BOTEC publications for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
Regarding BOTEC:

BOTEC compiled multiple papers dealing with a variety of topics for the Washington State Liquor Control Board as the agency worked to implement the legalization of cannabis. In some instances the information they provided served as a starting point for rulemaking. In other cases their information provided a lot more than a starting point. Everything they provided was well documented and researched. However the most beneficial part of working with BOTEC was the credibility they brought to the process on both a statewide and national level. These are well known, top notch professionals with access to many resources. Having the ability to talk with BOTEC members was extremely helpful. Regardless of whether or not there was agreement on the topic, the conversations we had were invaluable.

Randy Simmons
Former Deputy Director

Jamaica LogoMinistry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Jamaica

In March 2015, Jamaica amended its drug law, the Dangerous Drug Act, creating legal industries for medical marijuana and industrial hemp. The amendment also created the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), tasking it with the formation and regulation of rules for the newly-licensed marijuana industry. To assist the CLA, BOTEC was selected through a competitive process by the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce. Specifically, BOTEC was asked to research comparative policies in other jurisdictions and to make a comprehensive set of recommendations. The project was funded by Open Society Foundations.

Cornerstone Research

On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products. Section 907 (e) of the Tobacco Control Act requires the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) to submit a report and recommendation to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health – including use among children, African Americans, Hispanics, and other racial/ethnic minorities – by March 23, 2011. Cornerstone Research asked BOTEC Analysis to analyze the possible unintended consequences of a menthol ban for this report, including smuggling and violent crime. Currently, BOTEC is performing an econometric analysis of the effects of excise tax rates on cigarette smuggling and intention to smoke smuggled cigarettes in the European Union.

BOTEC publications for Cornerstone Research

GiveWell / Good Ventures

The changing cannabis laws across the United States have raised questions far beyond that of whether or not cannabis should be legalized. There are many nuanced policy issues that are often not addressed by the media and advocacy groups but have serious implications for public health and safety. Through a grant to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), GiveWell / Good Ventures funded journal articles, whitepapers, and editorials by BOTEC contributors on issues surrounding cannabis and marijuana legalization. In addition, the grant funded web development and research in the areas of crime and incarceration.

BOTEC publications for GiveWell / Good Ventures through a Grant to WOLA


OAG_DC_Seal of Washington

Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

After voters passed the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative in 1998, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia had the task of coordinating differing legalities amongst the federal, state, city, and county jurisdictions due to the district’s unique status and the network of agencies involved in marijuana enforcement.

BOTEC evaluated the program for OAG, looking into the myriad of complications the district faced in enforcement and public health after enacting the medical marijuana legalization initiative under current federal law.

BOTEC publications for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

Diversion, Access, Safety, and Privacy: Recommendations for D.C.’s Medical Marijuana Initiative_May 2013

Washington Office on Latin America

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is an American non-governmental organization (NGO) whose stated goal is to promote human rights, democracy and social and economic justice in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Washington Office on Latin America facilitates dialogue between governmental and non-governmental actors, monitors the impact of U.S. foreign policy on human rights, democracy and equitable development in Latin America, and promotes alternatives through reporting and advocacy. Through its reports, WOLA informs and educates policy-makers, religious and non-governmental organizations, and the general public about that impact. In addition, WOLA’s briefings bring policy-makers and the media in direct contact with Latin American leaders and experts on a regular basis. WOLA works closely with civil society organizations and government officials throughout the Americas

BOTEC publications for the Washington Office on Latin America

Side-by-Side Comparison of CO and WA Initiatives to Legalize Marijuana_March 2013


Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a branch of the Library of Congress, providing non-partisan policy and legal analysis to members of the U.S. Congress.

BOTEC examined the implications of terrorism on domestic policy towards illicit drugs such as marijuana for the CRS, documenting the varied links between drug trafficking and terrorist networks and how to reduce their contribution to one another.

BOTEC publications for the Congressional Research Service

Analyzing the Intersections Between Illicit Drug Trafficking and Terrorist Networks_April 2004


Sociedad sin Violencia (Society without Violence)

Society without Violence is a private social assistance institution that focuses on violence reduction methods using a gender inclusive approach to promote Human Rights and Peace Education.

BOTEC, through reports and consultation, has helped guide Sociedad sin Violencia in crafting drug policies for El Salvador that reduce violence by highlighting responsive frameworks to understand the multifaceted and often misunderstood realities of the drug trade.

BOTEC publications for Sociedad sin Violencia

Pragmatic Violence-Reduction Techniques for El Salvador_Feb 2004
Distinctions, Connections, and Principles for Controlling Drug Abuse and Violence_July 2002

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National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private scholarly society, established by Congressional charter in 1863, to provide advice to the nation on matters pertaining to science and technology. At the behest of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NAS established a Committee on Immunotherapies and Sustained-Release Formulations for Treating Drug Addiction in order to draw up the behavioral, ethical and legal questions arising from this treatment.

The cost-benefits analysis on immunotherapies and depot medications drug treatments used by NAS was conducted by BOTEC.

BOTEC publications for the National Academy of Sciences

Cost-Benefits in Treating Substance Abuse with Mental Health Medications or Immunotherapies_July 2003

Regarding BOTEC:

The success of Project HOPE has brought it considerable attention in the media and in policy circles. Its strong evaluation design—a randomized experiment—puts its findings on a sound scientific footing and is among the reasons why its results are highlighted in this report.

That such an effect appears to have been found in a population in which deterrence has previously been ineffective in averting crime makes the finding potentially very important. Thus, research on the deterrent effectiveness of short sentences with high celerity and certainty should be a priority, particularly among crime-prone populations.

Published in The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences

Dr. Jeremy Travis (Chair), John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Dr. Bruce Western (Vice Chair), Department of Sociology and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Dr. Steve Redburn, Affiliated faculty and director, fiscal studies, Center on the Public Service at George Mason University

The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences

Join Together_Boston Univeristy_453x453

Join Together

Join Together, a program of the Boston University School of Public Health, provides community leadership and policy guidance in drug treatment and prevention.

BOTEC examined deficiencies in substance abuse treatment and identified barriers to its remediation, in particular, identifying incentives that maintain less costly options for employers and health insurance issuers.

BOTEC publications for Join Together

An Analysis of Substance Abuse Treatment Quality and its Beneficiaries_Nov 2002


Brookings Institute

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. whose stated mission is to conduct research that provides innovative and practical recommendations that advance American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.

For Brookings, BOTEC provided a panel for the Brookings-WOLA Congressional Briefing and contributed to Brooking’s Governance Studies paper on marijuana legalization. Here BOTEC provided guidance on audits of quality control firms as well as state liability issues. BOTEC also served on Brookings’ Marijuana Legalization and New Domestic and International Initiatives Challenge the Status Quo panels in 2013 and 2012.

BOTEC publications for the Brookings Institute

Reveals Why Softer Drug Policies Work Better than Hard-Line Paternalism_1997

Regarding BOTEC:

Mark Kleiman is a creative and independent thinker whose integrity I feel I can take to the bank. Whether the subject is crime, substance abuse, or something else, when he talks, I listen.

Jonathan Rauch
Senior fellow
Brookings Institution


Office of National Drug Control Policy

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is a component of the Executive Office of the President. ONDCP was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. ONDCP advises the President on drug-control issues and drug policy, coordinates drug-control activities and related funding across the Federal government, and produces the annual National Drug Control Strategy, which outlines Administration efforts to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences.

For the ONDCP, BOTEC developed what became known as the HOPE approach to demand reduction for illicit drugs such as marijuana, prepared the original allocation of sites for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, as well as writing assessments on the shifting trends in the supply and consumption of illicit drugs.

BOTEC publications for the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Integrating Direct Demand Reduction Programs into the Criminal Justice System_June 1995
Reviewing Cost-Effectiveness Studies on Drug Treatment, Calling for Proper Control_Jan 1995
State of US Heroin Use: Ripe Conditions for an Epidemic_Nov 1994
Analyzing Marijuana Supply and Consumption Trends as Attitudes Shift_Sept 1994
Reducing Demand: Heroin Acquisition Times and its Deterrents_Aug 1994
Understanding the Logistics of Heroin Distribution and Availability_Sept 1993
Methodology Developing Price Series from Drug Data, Addressing Issues for Policy Use_June 1993
Charting Increases in US Heroin Imports and the Rise in New Users_Jan 1992


Jackson County, Missouri

Jackson County introduced the Anti-Drug Sales Tax as a community funded initiative to curb the drug problems in the area.

BOTEC assisted Jackson County through studying the drug problems in the community, with a primary focus on the urban areas. Based on this analysis, recommendations were made by BOTEC to involve a number of different agencies in Jackson County. In particular, their legislation, judicial procedures, law enforcement, and the implementation of upgraded technology.

BOTEC publications for Jackson County, Missouri

An Evaluation of the Drug Abuse Problem in Jackson County, Missouri_Dec 1990


National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is one of 27 institutes comprising the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the premier research agency for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA’s mission is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction and form a new, better drug policy.

Some of BOTEC’S earliest work includes a series of technical reports generated for NIDA; the scope of which include evaluative analyses on psychoactive drug regulation policies, domestic and international drug scheduling, and research methodologies on drug abuse liability studies.

BOTEC publications for The National Institute on Drug Abuse

Describes the US Role in International Drug Scheduling_Jan 1986
An Evaluation of Psychoactive Drug Regulation Policies_Jan 1986
A Legislative History of Domestic Drug Scheduling, Pharmaceutical Safety Laws, & Drug Application Processes_Jan 1986
Research Methodologies of Drug Abuse Liability Studies_Dec 1985

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