Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Drug Purity and Overdose Rates
Abstract: As of 1987, the US’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act (ADAA) has imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers based on the quantity of the drug involved irrespective of purity. Using the STRIDE dataset and a differences-in-differences approach, I find that this led to increases in cocaine and heroin purity of 52 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. It also affected the distribution of purity around its mean. Using data on emergency room visits, I show that changes in the distribution of purity had significant impacts on such visits. These results provide insights useful when considering Ireland’s drug policies which include the use of mandatory minimum sentences.