The War on Drugs

Methamphetamine, Public Health, and Crime

Published In: American Economic Review, v. 99, no. 1, Mar. 2009, p. 324-349

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Carlos Dobkin, Nancy Nicosia

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In mid-1995, a government effort to reduce the supply of methamphetamine precursors successfully disrupted the methamphetamine market and interrupted a trajectory of increasing usage. The price of methamphetamine tripled and purity declined from 90 percent to 20 percent. Simultaneously, amphetamine-related hospital and treatment admissions dropped 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Methamphetamine use among arrestees declined 55 percent. Although felony methamphetamine arrests fell 50 percent, there is no evidence of substantial reductions in property or violent crime. The impact was largely temporary. The price returned to its original level within four months; purity, hospital admissions, treatment admissions, and arrests approached preintervention levels within eighteen months.

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