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What drug policies cost. Estimating drug policy expenditures in Sweden, 2002: work in progress


Mats Ramstedt, Stockholm University, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD), Sweden. E-mail:


Aim  To estimate drug policy expenditures in Sweden for 2002.

Data and method  The various governmental agencies with drug policy responsibilities were identified and then requested to provide information on their actual spending on these activities. For most agencies additional information was obtained from special studies or expert opinion.

Findings  Drug policy expenditures are not easily identified in Swedish official statistics. The results have a very wide range between 500 and 1400 million Euros during 2002, with 950 million Euros as a baseline estimate. Two items each account for almost 60% of the total—police (including customs and courts) and corrections—whereas treatment expenditures and income support represent about one-fifth, respectively. Comparison with the most recent previous estimate (1991) shows a substantial higher level in 2002.

Conclusions  The findings suggest that a great deal of money is invested in drug policy measures in Sweden today and that it has most probably increased since the early 1990s. This development probably reflects the increase in number of problematic drug users in Sweden as well as increasing attention paid to the drug problem, foremost in the criminal justice system. More work is needed in developing a drug budget that is more easily available and in producing more reliable estimates both across sectors and across time. The need to develop the conceptualization of drug policy measures is also discussed.