According to a new study, methamphetamine production seems to be more widespread in areas that aren’t allowed to sell alcohol. University of Louisville economists confirmed that dry counties have two more lab seizures per 100,000 residents each year than do wet counties, a finding that leads them to believe there is also more methamphetamine consumption in those areas.
“Local alcohol bans increase the costs of obtaining alcohol, which reduces the relative price of illicit drugs,” Jose Fernandez, Stephan Gohmann and Joshua Pinkston wrote.
Fernandez, Gohmann and Pinkston analyzed data from 2004 to 2010 for Kentucky, where meth-lab seizures are relatively common and laws restrict the sale of alcohol in many local communities.
Their paper, Breaking Bad: Are Meth Labs Justified in Dry Counties?, was presented at the American Economic Association annual meeting in Boston. The researchers presented their conclusions that the results of this research are consistent with the unintended consequences of local alcohol bans predicted by economic theory.
They also presented information showing that restrictions on selling alcohol flatten the punishment gradient encouraging individuals who are willing to obtain alcohol illegally to also obtain illicit drugs.
Previously, a 2005 study found that legal access to alcohol was associated with reduced drug-related crime in Texas. “Apparently, regulations on sinful activities lead to important unintended and possibly counteracting consequences for other deviant behaviors,” Michael Conlin, Stacy Dickert-Conlin and John Pepper wrote in their paper, published by the Journal of Law and Economics.