Drug study: price is more effective than punishment

November 12, 2000

New research at Adelaide University in Australia has found that the cost of marijuana -- not the legal punishment for marijuana offences -- is the real key to reducing the amount of the drug used.

Adelaide University economist Dr Jenny Williams conducted a major study of Australians' participation in cannabis use and the frequency of usage, as well as the impact of cost and criminal justice policies.

Dr Williams, who is due to present her findings at this week's conference of the Southern Economic Association in Washington, DC, believes the Australian experience may also hold answers for other countries.

While her study found that criminal justice measures, such as fines and prison sentences, deter some people from using marijuana, such measures have very little impact on the frequency and amount of marijuana used by those who choose to do so.

The study also found that an increase in the price of high-quality cannabis from A$32 to A$38 per gram would reduce the overall proportion of users by 16%, and the proportion of weekly users by 23%.

In contrast, increasing the length of prison sentence for possession of a gram of cannabis from 1 to 2 years would reduce the proportion of cannabis users by only 3%, and reduce the proportion of weekly users by only 2%.

"There is strong evidence to show that marijuana demand is price responsive, therefore price is likely to be a more effective instrument for reducing the demand for marijuana than the criminal justice system," Dr Williams says.

She says policy makers should consider the legalisation of marijuana use and taxing marijuana sales.

While removing criminal sanctions on the possession and cultivation of marijuana would increase the prevalence of its use, "governments can expect to significantly reduce cannabis consumption by taxing sales", Dr Williams says.

Her report also says regulated sales of marijuana could result in less school children using the drug, if governments imposed similar legal age restrictions to those of cigarettes and alcohol.

Dr Williams' findings follow a recent ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Canada that it is unconstitutional for individuals to be denied the right to possess cannabis. She says her research sheds some light on policy alternatives available to the Canadian government, and to governments of other countries.
-end-
MEDIA CONTACT

Dr Jenny Williams is staying at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Washington, DC, where the Southern Economic Association's conference is being held: +703 418 1234. email: jenny.williams@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Cannabis Articles from Brightsurf:

Cannabis to treat gynecological conditions
A significant number of women would consider using cannabis to treat gynecological conditions, primarily gynecological pain.

Cannabis data lacking, but machine learning could help
Everyone's heard of THC and CBD. But many other active compounds in cannabis interact to influence its effects.

Cannabis use for menopause symptom management
CLEVELAND, Ohio (September 28, 2020)--As legislation relaxes regarding cannabis, it is being used to manage numerous chronic health conditions and mood symptoms.

Prescribed CBD could help people quit cannabis
A benchmark clinical trial published today shows that cannabidiol (CBD) could be a safe and effective treatment for problematic cannabis use.

Pregnant women with depression are more than 3 times more likely to use cannabis
Cannabis use is much more common among pregnant women with depression and pregnant women with depression are more than 3 times more likely to use cannabis than those without depression.

Cannabis compound acts as an antibiotic 
Public health agencies worldwide have identified antibiotic resistance of disease-causing bacteria as one of humanity's most critical challenges.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

Managing cannabis use in breastfeeding women
As more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis use and increasingly decriminalize cannabis, the risk to the growth and development of breastfeeding infants whose mothers use cannabis becomes a growing public health concern.

Cannabis edibles present novel health risks
With the recent legalization of cannabis edibles in Canada, physicians and the public must be aware of the novel risks of cannabis edibles, argue authors in a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Read More: Cannabis News and Cannabis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.