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Radical technological breakthroughs in drugs and drug markets: The cases of cannabis and fentanyl.

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Feb 11;:103162

Authors: Caulkins JP

BACKGROUND: Cannabis legalization and the arrival of nonmedical fentanyl are fundamentally altering North American drug markets. An essential part of that change is the ability to produce large quantities of these drugs at low costs, which is like a technological breakthrough in their production technology. This essay explores possible future consequences of these trends.
METHODS: Descriptive statistics, historical analogy and economic reasoning.
RESULTS: In North America, wholesale prices for cannabis and opioids – in the form of illegally manufactured fentanyl and other new synthetic opioids – are radically lower than they were a decade ago. Retail prices for cannabis have fallen commensurately, but not yet for opioids. Historical analogies suggest that very large declines in price can have effects on use that go beyond just an expansion of traditional patterns of consumption.
CONCLUSION: For cannabis and opioids in North America, conditions are ripe for significant changes in not only quantities consumed, and associated harms, but also in the roles these drugs and their control play in society. The overall situation with these drugs may look more different in 2040 compared to today, than today looks different from 2000. There are no obvious reasons why these trends will not spread to other continents.

PMID: 33583681 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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Categories: Medical

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