The Water Bed Effect in Drug ProhibitionBy Jeffrey Miron
1.Documents: National Guard Ordered To Consider Americans As 'Enemy Forces' And 'Adversaries'
2.Video: Armed National Guard Troops Patrol Residential Streets in California
3.Insane Video: Cops go to Wrong House to Make Arrest, Let Dog Out, Shoot at Dog in Crowded Area
4.Protecting The Vicious, Punishing The Virtuous: Marijuana Prohibition And Idaho's Prison-Industrial Complex
5.Cops Charge Man With 'Destruction Of Police Property' For Bleeding On Their Uniforms After They Beat Him
6.Cops Raid Cannabis Oil Activist Because Her Son Discussed Medical Pot Facts at School
7.Cop Who Shot and Killed 7-Year-Old Girl While Filming a Reality Show is a Police Officer Again
8.Judge: FBI's Ruse to Catch Poker Champ in Vegas Hotel Room Went Too Far
9.Man Dies After Cops Break His Neck, Sever His Spine, Bruise His Brain, Snap His Leg, And Crush His Larynx
10.This New Libertarian Micronation Might Just Be Crazy Enough To Work
If you lie down on a water bed, the amount of water does not change; it just moves elsewhere.
A similar phenomenon occurs with drug prohibition; targeting one drug reduces its use, but that displaced demand shows up somewhere else.
According to a new WaPo story, this is exactly what has occurred over the past ten years with respect to prescription opiates and heroin. As enforcement cracked down on Oxycontin and similar medications, demand shifted to heroin. And since purity information is noisy for an illicit good, heroin deaths increased noticeably.
Prohibition advocates will presumably respond with calls for greater enforcement against both prescription opiates and heroin, but the right response is the opposite. While opiate use carries risks, opiate prohibition makes these worse. Higher prices caused by prohibition, for example, encourage users to inject to get a big bang for the buck. But then prohibition-induced restriction of clean syringes fosters needle-sharing, spreading HIV.
The right test for policy is never whether some good or activity is "risky," but whether government intervention reduces those risks, and at what costs. Drug prohibition fails this test.