Health

How US Recreational Cannabis Legalization Could Change Illegal Drug Markets

Illegal Drug Deal Concept

A study published in the scientific journal Addiction today (May 17, 2021) provides the most comprehensive evidence to date of the association between recreational cannabis laws (RCLs) in US states and responses in the illegal markets for cannabis, heroin, and other drugs in those states.

As of 2021, 17 US states and the District of Columbia have implemented RCLs that allow people aged 21 and older to possess, use and supply limited amounts of cannabis for recreational purposes. This study found that the implementation of RCLs was associated with the following responses in the illegal drug market in those states:

  • 9.2% decrease in street/illegal cannabis prices.
  • 19.5% decrease in low-quality street/illegal cannabis prices.
  • 64% increase in heroin prices.
  • 54% increase in heroin potency.
  • 7.3% increase in street/illegal oxycodone prices.
  • 5.1% increase in street/illegal hydrocodone prices.
  • 93% decrease in law enforcement seizures of street/illegal cannabis.
  • >50% decrease in law enforcement seizures of heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Lead author Dr. Angélica Meinhofer (Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine) says “Our exploratory findings suggest that markets for illegal drugs may not be independent of legal cannabis market regulation. As more states move towards legalization and additional post-RCL implementation data become available, we’ll need to do more research to determine whether recreational cannabis laws cause those changes in the illegal market and what happens in the long-term.”

This study used a difference-in-differences analysis of the staggered implementation of RCLs in 11 states to compare changes in outcomes between RCL and non-RCL states. This study used crowdsourced data from Price of Weed and StreetRx on the price and quality of illegal drugs, which may be subject to error and sampling bias.

Reference: “Illegal drug market responses to state recreational cannabis laws” by Angélica Meinhofer and Adrian Rubli, 17 May 2021, Addiction.
DOI: 10.1111/add.15517

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  • BS Science fact: Correlation does not equal causation.

    Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, "Conspiracy Theories" and "Doomsday Scenarios" over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

    Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it's obviously defective.

    The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

    If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about "saving us all" from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

    Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

    Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They'll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

By
Society for the Study of Addiction

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