Washington Post- "Dry counties" that prohibit alcohol sales seem to have a bigger meth problem than other counties.
That's the thought-provoking conclusion of a new paper by researchers at the University of Louisville. In the state of Kentucky, some counties ("dry") prohibit alcohol sales completely. Others allow it only within certain municipalities ("moist,") or don't place restrictions on alcohol sales at all ("wet").
The Louisville researchers noticed that dry counties had higher rates of meth lab busts, as well as higher rates of meth crimes overall. And the effect is significant: "if all counties were to become wet, the total number of meth lab seizures in Kentucky would decline by about 25 percent," they found.
A meth problem? A fucking meth problem? You took people's booze, and all you guys have is a meth problem? Hey Kentucky, you better get down on your hands and knees and thank your lucky stars it doesn't look a scene from 'The Purge' down there. You took away people's confederate flags and their Jack Daniel's all in the same year and there's still someone left to tell the tale?! I'm surprised the whole state didn't spontaneously combust. I don't know shit about punishment gradients or relative cost correlations, but I do know one thing. People don't want to be sober. They want to conveniently catch their buzz. I don't fancy myself much of a drug user, but if you took my alcohol the probability that a dabble with a couple crystals goes up exponentially. Can't just go around all day and all night feeling completely normal. That shit sounds miserable. There's something to be said for having a vice. I'm not sure why Kentucky would rather it be meth than alcohol, but hell, it's got to be something.
After running some statistical tests, the researchers found that this is more than just a simple correlation: "Our results add support to the idea that prohibiting the sale of alcohol flattens the punishment gradient, lowering the relative cost of participating in the market for illegal drugs," they conclude.
In other words: people who buy alcohol in places where it's illegal become accustomed to dealing with the black market. If you're going to get punished whether you trade in booze or trade in meth, why not give meth a spin?" Alcohol prohibition becomes a gateway to other illegal activities," as Tyler Cowen sums it up at Marginal Revolution.
The actual concept at play here does make quite a bit of sense though. I guess I have never even thought about that. I have always bought my beer from places that legally sell beer. Imagine every time you bought liquor you had to walk into a basement full of all the drugs known to man. You would probably experiment too. It's like going to your favorite pizza joint. 99% of the time you are going to order a large pie and be done with it, but that 1% of the time your curiosity is going to get the best of you and your gonna order that chicken parm sub just to see what it tastes like. You can get "the usual" when ordering off the the black market menu, but every now and again you are bound to take a chance and see what you're missing out on. Plus, half the reason I don't smoke weed that often is because I never felt like having a drug dealer, but if you needed a drug dealer just to crack a cold one during Monday Night Football then what the fuck is the difference? Don't get me wrong, I would still rather live in a 'wet' county and refrain from meth usage, but I am not going to judge a bunch of Southerners for becoming meth heads when they basically have to go to the "meth store" every time they want to grab a 6 pack and unwind after work.