By / May 21, 2021

How does cannabis legalization change the illegal drug market?

The recreational use of cannabis is beginning to be legalized in several places around the world, including the District of Columbia and 15 other U.S. states. As this cannabis legalization trend advances, many researchers are taking it upon themselves to measure the effects of legalization in different areas. Recently, a study addressed the effect of cannabis legalization of recreational cannabis use on the illegal drug market and these were their findings.

Research into cannabis is increasing and new findings are being published all the time. Staying up to date with cannabis legalization and research news is easy with our companion cannabis news app.

Study publishes research of cannabis legalization on illicit drug market

Published in the scientific journal Addiction, the aim of the study was to estimate the association between cannabis legalization for recreational use and the retail prices of the illegal market. Also its association with the potency, quality, and police seizures of illegal cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, amphetamine, and alprazolam.

Their findings include a 9.2% decrease in the prices of illegal cannabis, along with a 19.5% decrease in the price of low-grade illegal cannabis. There was also a 64% increase in heroin prices and a 54% increase in the potency of heroin. In the case of oxycodone, cannabis legalization caused a 7.3% increase in its illegal market prices, together with a 5.1% increase in the price of hydrocodone. Likewise, the study records a 93% decrease in police seizures of street cannabis along with a greater than 50% decrease in seizures of heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Study finds price and attitude changes attributable to cannabis leaglization

With these results, the study concludes that there is a relationship between cannabis legalization and illegal drug market responses in states where recreational use is permitted. Changes in illegal opioid prices may suggest a dependence of other illegal drug markets on the regulation of the cannabis market, the study states.

Regarding how cannabis legalization has changed the way police view marijuana, a 2020 study sheds light on this. This research published in Justice Evaluation Journal focused on inquiring into the views of police in Washington, the first place in the United States where cannabis was legalized. There, police, while not supporting recriminalization, expressed concern about the use of cannabis by young people and the increase in driving under its influence. They were also concerned about the reluctance of the prosecution to press charges and the number of nuisance calls about cannabis use in public. They also noted the lack of police preparedness for legalization and its effect on their workload.

Another effect that has also caused concern and is beginning to be seriously studied is the effect of cannabis legalization on the environment. According to Colorado State University, indoor cannabis cultivation, prevalent in Colorado, operates with a significant carbon footprint.

Ugent need for further research

In the face of countless criticisms of the war on drugs policy, it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabis legalization. As the study published in Addiction confirms, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis does have a significant effect on the illegal drug market. Gathering this type of information, together with other information such as the environmental impact, is essential to design better policies regarding the use of these substances, which also move away from criminalization.


(Featured image by Benjamin Brunner via Unsplash)

DISCLAIMER: This article was written by a third party contributor and does not reflect the opinion of, its management, staff or its associates. Please review our disclaimer for more information.

This article may include forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “estimate,” “become,” “plan,” “will,” and similar expressions. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks as well as uncertainties, including those discussed in the following cautionary statements and elsewhere in this article and on this site. Although the Company may believe that its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, the actual results that the Company may achieve may differ materially from any forward-looking statements, which reflect the opinions of the management of the Company only as of the date hereof. Additionally, please make sure to read these important disclosures.

First published in HOY, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

Although we made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translations, some parts may be incorrect. assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions or ambiguities in the translations provided on this website. Any person or entity relying on translated content does so at their own risk. is not responsible for losses caused by such reliance on the accuracy or reliability of translated information. If you wish to report an error or inaccuracy in the translation, we encourage you to contact us.

Comments are closed for this post.