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.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.