May, 2013

Keep Off the Grass: The Economics of Prohibition and U.S. Drug Policy

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Abigail Hall

    Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Tampa
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Read the article in the Oregon Law Review. 

In 1906, the United States instituted its first drug laws. Over time, drug prohibition and criminalization have continued, becoming what is known today as the “War on Drugs.” This article examines the political economy of the War on Drugs with particular emphasis on the unintended consequences of drug prohibition. This article analyzes the effects of prohibition on violence, drug potency, and cartelization in the drug market. In addition, it examines how the drug policies of the U.S. government have led to a progressive militarization of domestic police forces, fostered an erosion of civil liberties, and contributed to the weakening of private property. The article concludes that drug prohibition works against many of the stated goals of its advocates and offers an alternative to present drug policy.