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The Effect of Drug Prohibition on Drug Prices: Evidence from the Markets for Cocaine and Heroin


  • Jeffrey A. Miron

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)


This paper examines the effect of drug prohibition on the black market prices of cocaine and heroin. The paper examines the ratio of retail to farmgate price for cocaine, heroin, and several legal goods, and it compares legal versus black market prices for cocaine and heroin. The results suggest that cocaine and heroin are substantially more expensive than they would be in a legalized market, but to a lesser degree than suggested in previous research. © 2003 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • Jeffrey A. Miron, 2003. "The Effect of Drug Prohibition on Drug Prices: Evidence from the Markets for Cocaine and Heroin," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 522-530, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:85:y:2003:i:3:p:522-530

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Emmanuelle Auriol & Alice Mesnard, 2016. "Sale of Visas: a Smuggler's Final Song?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 646-678, October.
    2. Kenneth W. Clements & Yihui Lan & Xueyan Zhao, 2005. "The Demand for Vice: Inter-Commodity Interactions with Uncertainty," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 05-30, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    3. Kenneth W. Clements & Xueyan Zhao, 2005. "Economic Aspects of Marijuana," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 05-28, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    4. Huber III Arthur & Newman Rebecca & LaFave Daniel, 2016. "Cannabis Control and Crime: Medicinal Use, Depenalization and the War on Drugs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-35, October.
    5. Michael Grossman, 2004. "Individual Behaviors and Substance Use: The Role of Price," NBER Working Papers 10948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gathmann, Christina, 2004. "The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling along the Southwestern Border," IZA Discussion Papers 1004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Gregory DeAngelo & R. Kaj Gittings & Amanda Ross & Annie Walker, 2016. "Police Bias in the Enforcement of Drug Crimes: Evidence from Low Priority Laws," Working Papers 16-01, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    8. Tomás E. Murphy & Martín Rossi, 2017. "Following the Poppy Trail: Causes and Consequences of Mexican Drug Cartels," Working Papers 130, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Dec 2017.
    9. Dave, Dhaval, 2006. "The effects of cocaine and heroin price on drug-related emergency department visits," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 311-333, March.
    10. Carlos Dobkin & Nancy Nicosia, 2009. "The War on Drugs: Methamphetamine, Public Health, and Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 324-349, March.
    11. Reza Oladi & John Gilbert, 2015. "International Narcotics Trade, Foreign Aid, And Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(3), pages 1630-1646, July.
    12. Cho, Seo-Young & Dreher, Axel & Neumayer, Eric, 2013. "Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 67-82.
    13. Kenneth W. Clements, 2004. "Three facts about marijuana prices ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 48(2), pages 271-300, June.
    14. Pudney, Stephen & Bryan, Mark & DelBono, Emilia, 2013. "Licensing and regulation of the cannabis market in England and Wales: Towards a cost-benefit analysis," MPRA Paper 50365, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Carlos Casacuberta & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "Aportes del análisis económico al estudio de las drogas," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0112, Department of Economics - dECON.
    16. Slim, Sadri, 2009. "Du refus de vente au don: une explication de la formation du prix par l´affect
      [From rejection of exchange to gift: regard as an explanation of prices]
      ," MPRA Paper 15317, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Apr 2009.
    17. Dave, Dhaval, 2008. "Illicit drug use among arrestees, prices and policy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 694-714, March.
    18. Niklas Jakobsson & Andreas Kotsadam, 2013. "The law and economics of international sex slavery: prostitution laws and trafficking for sexual exploitation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 87-107, February.
    19. Dobkin, Carlos & Nicosia, Nancy & Weinberg, Matthew, 2014. "Are supply-side drug control efforts effective? Evaluating OTC regulations targeting methamphetamine precursors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 48-61.
    20. Jeremy Arkes & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Susan M. Paddock & Jonathan P. Caulkins & Peter Reuter, 2008. "Why the DEA STRIDE Data are Still Useful for Understanding Drug Markets," NBER Working Papers 14224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Gathmann, Christina, 2008. "Effects of enforcement on illegal markets: Evidence from migrant smuggling along the southwestern border," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1926-1941, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H29 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other


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