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The metaphor of markets has become standard in discussing policy toward illicit drugs, particularly in the United States. Prices naturally play a prominent role in the metaphor, but they have been given only lip service in terms of analysis and data collection. That is unfortunate because: (1) price affects consumption, both in total and composition; (2) many harms relate to expenditure, which is the product of price and consumption; and (3) price data are a potentially important research tool for understanding the workings of policy. This paper makes a case for giving more priority to prices in analysis and data collection.

Originally published in: Addiction, v. 91, no. 9, 1996, pp. 1261-1264.

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