Vice Squad
Friday, October 15, 2004
Marijuana Prices

A couple of days ago I mentioned that "the black market price of pot in the US is typically lower than the price in the quasi-legal coffee shops in the Netherlands." I was basing this claim on a rather vague memory of having read this in the past; probably my main source was a 1997 (volume 278, pages 47-52) article in Science by Robert MacCoun and Peter Reuter, "Interpreting Dutch Cannabis Policy: Reasoning by Analogy in the Legalization Debate." MacCoun and Reuter don't say that Dutch prices are lower, however; rather, they say "Gram prices [in Dutch coffee shops] are 5 to 25 guilders ($2.50 to $12.50) compared with U.S. figures of $1.50 to $15.00" (footnote omitted). See also this August, 2003 paper (16 page pdf) by Jeffrey Miron, which suggests US cannabis prices are less than or equal to Dutch prices. A Vice Squad reader, though, makes the point that in quality-adjusted terms, Dutch coffee house prices are lower than in the US, and that furthermore, much low-quality marijuana that trades in the US would not find a ready market in the Netherlands.

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