The Cost of Drug Prohibition in Australia

Jiggens, John L. (2005) The Cost of Drug Prohibition in Australia. In Social Change in the 21st Century, 28 November 2005, QUT Carseldine, Brisbane.


The purpose of this paper is to measure the costs of drug prohibition in Australia and to examine the effects of prohibitionist drugs policy on the cannabis and heroin markets. The key argument will be that prohibition, rather than being a hinderance to the drugs black market, acts as an economic multiplier for the black market. Prohibition is a subsidy for the corrupt. This economic history was heavily influenced by Drugs, Crime & Society, the Report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority, hereafter referred to as the Cleeland Report (after its Chairman Peter Cleeland MP) which was the first government report to approach drugs as a commodity and to understand the drug trade as a market.1 It was a wonderfully numerate report: the first government report to estimate the size of drug markets, just as it was the first to estimate the cost of drug law enforcement. Because of their pioneering nature, Cleeland’s estimations were often rudimentary, back-of-the-envelope calculations, and later investigators, like Marks2 and Clement and Daryal,3 have refined these estimates. This paper continues the tradition of Cleeland revisionism, developing methods for calculating the value of the cannabis market and for estimating the cost of drug law enforcement, over a 25 year period. By comparing the value of the marijuana market and the cost of drug law enforcement over this period, this paper argues that the value of the cannabis black market has increased as a multiple of the cost of drug law enforcement.

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ID Code: 3442
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Drug prohibition, economics, cannabis market, economics, drug law enforcement, cost of, heroin drought, marijuana drought, cannabis plague, heroin plague
ISBN: 1741071089
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Policy (160510)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 John L. Jiggens
Deposited On: 03 Feb 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:30

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