Study: Cannabis Legalization Leads to Higher Prices for Other Drugs

A recent study found that cannabis legalization leads to lower prices in a state’s unlicensed cannabis market and an increase in the prices of illicit drugs and illegally obtained pharmaceuticals.

Full story after the jump.

Cannabis legalization has led to lower prices in the unlicensed market in states that have legalized cannabis, according to a study published this month in the journal Addiction which found a 9.2% decrease in illegal cannabis prices along with a 19.5% drop in low-quality cannabis prices when bought in the unregulated market.

The study also found an increase in the prices of illicit drugs and illegally obtained pharmaceuticals, such as a 64% price increase for heroin, a 7.3% increase in oxycodone prices, and a 5.1% increase in hydrocodone prices. The study notes that in states with legalized cannabis, there has been a more than 50% decrease in law enforcement seizure of those drugs and a 54% increase in heroin potency.

This study used a difference-in-differences analysis of the staggered implementation of adult-use cannabis legalization in 11 states to compare changes in outcomes between legalized and non-legalized states. It used crowdsourced data from Price of Weed and StreetRx “on the price and quality of illegal drugs, which may be subject to error and sampling bias,” the researchers noted in a press release.

“Recreational cannabis laws in US states appear to be associated with illegal drug market responses in those states, including reductions in the street price of cannabis,” the study concludes. “Changes in the street prices of illegal opioids analyzed may suggest that in states with recreational cannabis laws the markets for other illegal drugs are not independent of legal cannabis market regulation.”

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