The Potency of Illegal Drugs

  title={The Potency of Illegal Drugs},
  author={Mark A. Thornton},
  journal={Journal of Drug Issues},
  pages={725 - 740}
  • M. Thornton
  • Published 1 July 1998
  • Political Science
  • Journal of Drug Issues
The high potency of narcotics is used as a justification for making them illegal. An economic analysis of drug potency shows that public policies such as excise taxes and prohibitions provide the incentives to make and consume more potent drugs and that such policies provide an economic “gateway” for the introduction of new, highly potent drugs. Historical evidence from national alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs supports these findings. 

Recreational drug prohibitions

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The future of the international drug control system and national drug prohibitions

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  • Political Science
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It is argued that a major risk of cannabis legalization in the United States is promotion of heavy use and increased harm by a weakly regulated industry, and that it is unclear what the best approach is to reducing possible harms that may arise from the use of new psychoactive substances.

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  • H. Hagan
  • Medicine, Political Science
    American journal of public health
  • 2001
It is shown that in the United States between 1981 and 1996, an increase in hospital emergency department mentions of cocaine and heroin corresponded with a sharp decline in street prices for both drugs, which raises an important public health question, whether adverse consequences of drug use can be reduced by efforts to increase the price of illicit drugs.

Cato Institute Policy Analysis No . 157 : Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure

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Confronting global AIDS: prevention and treatment.

  • A. Berkman
  • Political Science, Medicine
    American journal of public health
  • 2001
A global groundswell of grassroots AIDS activism focusing on treatment access has challenged the inertia of policymakers, public health experts, and private industry and forced changes in US trade policies that opposed efforts to produce generic versions of AIDS-related drugs.

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  • S. Peltzman
  • Medicine
    The Journal of Law and Economics
  • 1987
The life-saving benefits of modern drugs do not seem to be enhanced by the prescription requirements, and the life-threatening risks from improper use of these drugs are not reduced and may even be increased by this requirement.

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  • Y. Barzel
  • Economics
    Journal of Political Economy
  • 1976
Because commodities as transacted are complex, tax statutes could not cover all margins subject to optimization. A tax will induce, then, substitution within the commodity away from the taxed


The authors consider the well-known theorem of A. Alchian and W. Allen (1964) that adding a per unit charge to the price of two substitute goods increases the relative consumption of the higher price