News Release

Supply and demand and illicit drugs

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Evan Wood and colleagues report that the largest seizure of heroin in Canadian history, which occurred in Vancouver in September 2000, actually had no impact on the injection use of heroin or on perceived availability of the drug on the street.

The authors tested the hypothesis that the Vancouver seizure -- which involved the interception of 100 kg of heroin -- would limit supply, push prices beyond the range of youth at high risk of experimentation and perhaps decrease the overdose rate. The authors compared drug use and behavioural characteristics, heroin and cocaine prices, participants' reports of whether law enforcement had affected their source of drugs or the types of drugs available on the street, as well as overdoses for the 30-day periods immediately before and after the seizure.

They report that there was no difference in responses pre- or post-seizure, and heroin prices actually declined after the shipment was intercepted.

"Given the size of the seizure relative to other large heroin seizures, our findings raise serious questions about the potential for Canada's present drug policies to adequately control the drug use epidemic through supply-side interventions," state the authors.


Impact of supply-side policies for control of illicit drugs in the face of the AIDS and overdose epidemics: investigation of a massive heroin seizure
-- E. Wood et al

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