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The Demand for Cocaine and Marijuana by Youth

  • Frank J. Chaloupka
  • Michael Grossman
  • John A. Tauras

In recent years, the debate over the costs and benefits of legalizing the use of currently illicit drugs has been revived. This paper attempts to inform this debate by providing some evidence on the effects of illicit drug prices and legal sanctions for drug possession and sale on youth drug use. Data on cocaine and marijuana use by high school seniors are taken from the 1982 and 1989 Monitoring the Future surveys. Site-specific data on cocaine prices and legal sanctions for the possession and sale, manufacture or distribution of cocaine and marijuana are added to the survey data. The results indicate that youth cocaine demand is sensitive to price, with average past year and past month cocaine demand elasticities of -1.28 and -1.43, respectively. In addition, the estimates suggest that increased sanctions for the possession of cocaine and marijuana have a negative and statistically significant impact on youth cocaine and marijuana use. However, the magnitude of these estimates implies that very large increases in the monetary fines that can be imposed for first offense possession would be necessary to achieve meaningful reductions in use. Finally, sanctions for the sale, manufacture or distribution of cocaine and marijuana were found to have little impact on youth cocaine and marijuana use.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6411.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6411.

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Date of creation: Feb 1998
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Publication status: published as The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse. Chaloupka, Frank J., Michael Grossman, Warren K. Bickel, and Henry Saffer, eds., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 133-155.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6411
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  1. Nisbet, Charles T & Vakil, Firouz, 1972. "Some Estimates of Price and Expenditure Elasticities of Demand for Marijuana Among U.C.L.A. Students," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(4), pages 473-75, November.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  3. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
  4. Grossman, Michael & Chaloupka, Frank J., 1998. "The demand for cocaine by young adults: a rational addiction approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 427-474, August.
  5. Silverman, Lester P. & Spruill, Nancy L., 1977. "Urban crime and the price of heroin," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 80-103, January.
  6. John DiNardo & Thomas Lemieux, 1992. "Alcohol, Marijuana, and American Youth: The Unintended Effects of Government Regulation," NBER Working Papers 4212, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. DiNardo, J. & Lemieux, T., 1992. "Appendix Table for: Alcohol, Marijuana and American Youth: The Unintented Consequences of Government Regulation," Papers 92-17, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  8. Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo, 1998. "Does increasing the beer tax reduce marijuana consumption?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 557-585, October.
  9. van Ours, Jan C, 1995. "The Price Elasticity of Hard Drugs: The Case of Opium in the Dutch East Indies, 1923-1938," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 261-79, April.
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