The US Opioid Epidemic: State Laws, Prescription Opioids and Crime
37 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2019
Date Written: August 17, 2019
In response to the recent opioid crisis, US states have implemented several policies to reduce the dispensing of opioids and curb drug mortality. Exploiting a long panel of county-level data, we analyse the effects of a wide range of state laws on opioids per capita sold and their unintended fallouts on drug-related crime. We show that only laws targeting the supply for opioids reduce the volume of prescribed drugs, while demand-side policies yield to a slight increase in prescription rates. The drop in opioids distributed due to supply-side regulations is also accompanied by negative externalities in the local market for illicit drugs. Moreover, we provide evidence of a considerable heterogeneity in effects depending on initial socioeconomic characteristics and local drug environment factors. Finally, we show that legal dispensaries of medical cannabis reduce the amount of painkillers distributed and that there are remarkable complementarities among opioid state laws and marijuana dispensaries.
Keywords: Opioid Laws, Prescription Opioids, Drugs, Medical Marijuana, Crime
JEL Classification: I18, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation