Policy success measured by decline in consumer surplus

Via the Herald (ht Education Directions):

The Illicit Drug Monitoring System report found the price – commonly regarded as the best measure of police success against the drug – had increased each year.

Interesting.  So they use ever rising prices as a measure of ever rising success.  This is weird on two grounds:

  1. We are using regulation, not the market – yet using prices as an indicator seems to point out that we could use a market mechanism here.
  2. If we accept the market mechanism, then even in the face of externalities there is an appropriate “price” – if we go past that I wouldn’t call that a “success”

Also, they seem to have trouble attributing appropriate causation:

Dr Wilkins said dealers around the world had reacted (to restrictions) by filling the (Ectasy) pills with other substances, including methamphetamine, which could create a highly dangerous cocktail of drugs.

A revival in LSD use, possibly as Ecstasy users look for a stronger drug.

So they attribute the rise in LSD use to “addicts” wanting a stronger fix – even though they have already admitted that the consumers value of Ecstasy has been lowered by tightening restrictions overseas, which have reduced quality and increase the potential health impact.  If anything I would say that the “obvious” reason for the substitution from Ecstasy to LSD would be the result of these tighter restrictions …

  • JiveKitty

    LSD does something quite different to ecstasy. I find it unlikely it would be the drug ecstasy users would move to if needing something stronger or to substitute. What I find more likely would be a rise in popularity of the old club drugs which are not hallucinogenic (I do note ketamine use has risen according to the story) and maybe some new ones coming about. Not that it would be a terrible thing if LSD use has risen because of that, given it’s relatively safe, although so too is ecstasy. Hm.

    This: “Police hoped to see purity and availability levels drop soon.” worries me, as purity levels drop when the drug is cut. Do they not see an issue with this?

  • @JiveKitty +++