Harvard’s Miron Drawn To Supply-And-Demand Drug Issues


In a Q&A with CNBC, Harvard economics Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, whose research focuses on drug policy and the economics of crime, explains that his focus began with a question he considered during a sabbatical 20 years ago: Why do authorities treat marijuana differently than alcohol? Miron discovered a largely untapped mine of potential research, and he abandoned microeconomics to focus on drug issues. Now one of the foremost authorities in the field, he recently published the 2010 edition of “The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition.”

Miron said economists are trained to think about “unintended consequences.” He explained, “So if you make it more difficult, if you make it impossible or very difficult to buy drugs legally, that doesn't necessarily mean it stops it. It just means people will look for some way to do it illegally. And people want to supply it because there is a demand there…If you prohibit something for which there is a strong demand, particularly inelastic demand, you're going to draw a lot of resources into that activity for the purpose of getting around the prohibition.”

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