Should the Dea's Stride Data Be Used for Economic Analyses of Markets for Illegal Drugs?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) STRIDE data contain records of acquisitions of illegal drugs by undercover agents and informants of the DEA and Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia. These data are widely used in economic analyses of markets for illegal drugs. The STRIDE data are mainly records of acquisitions made to support criminal investigations and are not a random sample of an identifiable population. This paper presents evidence that the STRIDE data on cocaine and heroin prices are not representative of market prices for those drugs. It is concluded that the usefulness of the STRIDE data for economic and policy analysis is limited at best. STRIDE is not a reliable source of price data for economic and policy analyses that require accurate measures of price levels and variations.
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