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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Report: Drugs Cheaper, Stronger Thanks to War on Drugs

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Must be a generational thing
  • Must be a generational thing

The war on drugs is a generational thing. Children of the 1980s know no other reality than D.A.R.E. class and "Just Say No," while their parents can still recall -- though barely -- an age when researchers in Menlo Park literally handed out LSD to (eager) study participants.

But a funny thing happened on the way to just saying no: since 1990, readily-available cocaine, heroin and marijuana has become cheaper -- which suggests an overflow of supply, as there's no indication that demand has lessened -- while also becoming stronger and purer, a new study says.

Millennials really are spoiled.

In the Bay Area, this is readily apparent to anyone with a computer: prices of legal medical cannabis, for example, have steadily dropped to $40 an eighth or so for lab-tested, mold and pesticide-free cannabis that would have been unrecognizable to flower children of a generation ago. That's what a legal market with innovation and competition -- and plenty of people eager to get into the game -- gets you.

But it appears there are more and stronger drugs than ever in the illegal market, too.

Researchers looked at market trends in the United States and Europe, where at least ten years' worth of data was available. And in an article to be published in the British Medical Journal Open, researchers from the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy found that despite marijuana seizures increasing 465 percent in the past 20 years, prices -- adjusted for inflation -- have decreased 86 percent. Meanwhile, purity (which we take to mean the THC content) has increased 161 percent.

Hard drugs, which are illegal everywhere in the world we can name (if just in name), have also experienced a similar cheaper/better effect. Heroin and cocaine prices have also dipped, by 81 and 80 percent, while experiencing moderate spikes in purity.

Why is this? Economics, for one: these prices are adjusted for inflation. The price of everything has gone up steadily, while a nickel bag is still a nickel bag, oddly enough.

With one exception: as anyone in the service industry in San Francisco could tell you, powder cocaine (as opposed to crack rocks) has not experienced the price dip.

News like this is no news at all to some: it lends credence to the tacts taken by places like Uruguay, where an effort to legalize marijuana is mounting. And in the UK, a top police official said that drugs should be decriminalized -- and sold in a controlled environment outside of the black market.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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