Study Shows How Recreational Cannabis Legalization May Change Illegal Drug Markets

May 20, 2021

A study published in the scientific journal Addiction provides evidence of the association between recreational cannabis laws in U.S. states and responses in the illegal markets for cannabis, heroin and other drugs.

The study found that the implementation of recreational cannabis laws was associated with a decrease illicit cannabis prices, and an increase in the prices of heroin and oxycodone, the news and information source Newswise reported.

Following were some of the reported responses in the illegal drug market in those states studied:

  • 2% decrease in street/illegal cannabis prices.
  • 5% decrease in low-quality street/illegal cannabis prices.
  • 64% increase in heroin prices.
  • 54% increase in heroin potency.
  • 3% increase in street/illegal oxycodone prices.
  • 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

Angélica Meinhofer, assistant professor of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, told Newswise that the 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-(recreational cannabis law) 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,” Meinhofer said.

The 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.


Topics Cannabis

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