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Is cannabis a gateway to hard drugs?

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  • Hans Olav Melberg
  • Anne Line Bretteville-Jensen
  • Andrew M. Jones

Abstract

The gateway hypothesis proposes that cannabis use increases the risk of starting to consume hard drugs. We test this controversial, but influential, hypothesis on a sample of cannabis users employing a unique set of drug prices. A flexible approach is developed to identify the causal gateway effect using a bivariate survival model with shared frailty estimated using a latent class approach. The model suggests two distinct groups; a smaller group of “troubled youths” for whom there is a statistically significant gateway effect that doubles the hazard of starting to use hard drugs and a larger fraction of “most youths” where previous cannabis use has little impact.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 07/01.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:07/01

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  1. Anne Line Bretteville-Jensen & Erik Bi¯rn, 2003. "Heroin Consumption, Prices and Addiction: Evidence from Self-reported Panel Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(4), pages 661-679, December.
  2. Gaure, Simen & Røed, Knut & Zhang, Tao, 2005. "Time and Causality: A Monte Carlo Assessment of the Timing-of-Events Approach," Memorandum 19/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
  4. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Easy Estimation Methods for Discrete-Time Duration Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 129-38, February.
  5. Stephen Pudney, 2003. "The Road to Ruin? Sequences of Initiation to Drugs and Crime in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages C182-C198, March.
  6. Jaap H. Abbring & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2003. "The Nonparametric Identification of Treatment Effects in Duration Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1491-1517, 09.
  7. Beenstock, Michael & Rahav, Giora, 2002. "Testing Gateway Theory: do cigarette prices affect illicit drug use?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 679-698, July.
  8. Jeffrey DeSimone, 1998. "Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 149-164, Spring.
  9. J. Williams, 2004. "The effects of price and policy on marijuana use: what can be learned from the Australian experience?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(2), pages 123-137.
  10. Deb, Partha & Trivedi, Pravin K, 1997. "Demand for Medical Care by the Elderly: A Finite Mixture Approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 313-36, May-June.
  11. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Bretteville-Jensen, Anne Line & Jacobi, Liana, 2008. "Climbing the Drug Staircase: A Bayesian Analysis of the Initiation of Hard Drug Use," IZA Discussion Papers 3879, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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