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Risks and Prices: The Role of User Sanctions in Marijuana Markets

  • Pacula Rosalie Liccardo

    ()

    (RAND)

  • Kilmer Beau

    ()

    (RAND)

  • Grossman Michael

    ()

    (NBER)

  • Chaloupka Frank J

    ()

    (University of Illinois, Chicago)

User sanctions influence the legal risk for consumers who engage in illegal drug markets. If a reduction in user sanctions leads to an increase in consumption, drug prices will rise unless supply is perfectly elastic. In equilibrium, a change in consumption associated with decreasing user sanctions could be relatively small if supply is upward sloping. Using a novel dataset with rich transaction-level information, this paper evaluates the impact of recent changes in user sanctions for marijuana on marijuana prices. The results suggest that lower legal risks for users are associated with higher marijuana prices in the short-run, which ceteris paribus, implies an upward sloping supply curve, higher consumption, and higher profits for drug dealers. The findings have important implications for the current policy debates regarding decriminalization of marijuana.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-38

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:11
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  1. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-11, July.
  2. Jeff DeSimone & Matthew C. Farrelly, 2003. "Price and Enforcement Effects on Cocaine and Marijuana Demand," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 98-115, January.
  3. R. L. Pacula & M. Grossman & F. J. Chaloupka & P. M. O'Malley & L. Johnston & M. C. Farrelly, 2000. "Marijuana and Youth," NBER Working Papers 7703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Patrick M. O'Malley & Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka, 2001. "Marijuana and Youth," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 271-326 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jenny Williams & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 2001. "Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Students: Economic Complements or Substitutes?," NBER Working Papers 8401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Michael Grossman, 2004. "The Economic Theory of Illegal Goods: The Case of Drugs," NBER Working Papers 10976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jonathan P. Caulkins, 1997. "Modeling the Domestic Distribution Network for Illicit Drugs," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(10), pages 1364-1371, October.
  7. Breusch, T S & Pagan, A R, 1979. "A Simple Test for Heteroscedasticity and Random Coefficient Variation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1287-94, September.
  8. Farrelly, Matthew C. & Bray, Jeremy W. & Zarkin, Gary A. & Wendling, Brett W., 2001. "The joint demand for cigarettes and marijuana: evidence from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 51-68, January.
  9. Caulkins Jonathan P., 1995. "Domestic Geographic Variation in Illicit Drug Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 38-56, January.
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