Stronger the Drug Laws, The Stronger the Drugs
Washington, D.C. -- Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project, which revealed levels of THC - the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - have reached the highest-ever levels since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s. According to the latest data on marijuana samples analyzed to date, the average amount of THC in seized samples has reached a new high of 10.1%. This compares to an average of just under 4% reported in 1983 and represents more than a doubling in the potency of the drug since that time.
According to data from the White House (here and here), the graph below shows that the purity of powder cocaine more than doubled between the early 1980s and the 1990s and after.
MP: As a general economics principle, I think it would be safe to say that the stronger the drug laws, and the stronger the enforcement of drug laws, the stronger the drugs.
Exhibit A: The original drug of choice made from poppies in the 1800s was opium, but after it became illegal, the market for heroin was born, which is made from opium/morphine.
Exhibit B: During prohibition in the U.S. during the 1930s, most illegal "moonshine" was the strongest possible alcohol like "bathtub gin," etc. Nobody bothered making illegal beer or wine, everybody wanted the strongest, purest alcohol possible.
Exhibit C: Going from powder cocaine to crack cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s, to get more "bang for the buck."
Top graph HT: Pete Boettke