Legalizing drugs: lessons from (and about) economics

K E Warner
Milbank Quarterly 1991, 69 (4): 641-61
Although applications of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to the problem of drug policy are few in number and relatively primitive, they illustrate both the potential and limitations of CBA to produce critical insights that might improve drug policy making. But even the ideal CBA of drug policy could never produce a definitive conclusion about the desirability of drug legalization. Another tool of economics, analysis of price elasticity of demand, holds the potential to generate understanding of the likely effects of policy changes in the monetary and psychological prices associated with policy reforms.

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