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Breaking Bad: Are Alcohol Restrictions Giving Meth A Boost?

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Casey Harper Contributor
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A new study suggests local governments may be unwittingly establishing a haven for methamphetamine dealers.

Research from the University of Louisville found that counties that prohibit the sale of alcohol have more meth busts, suggesting the illicit drug is unintentionally brought in by the vacuum alcohol bans create, The Wall Street Journal reported.

summary of the longer paper, “Breaking Bad: Are Meth Labs Justified in Dry Counties?” looks at the relationship between alcohol regulations and the prevalence of meth.

“We find that, relative to wet counties, dry counties have roughly two additional meth lab seizures annually per 100,000 population,” the paper reads. “Local alcohol bans increase the costs of obtaining alcohol, which reduces the relative price of illicit drugs.”

The study says that legal access to alcohol decreases the per capita meth lab seizures by approximately 17.5 percent. The researchers make a bold claim:

“The state could reduce the number of meth lab seizures by 17 to 30 percent per year if all counties were wet.”

Although prohibition was repealed in 1933, states and local governments are allowed to place bans and restrictions on alcohol. This has resulted in “dry” counties, where alcohol cannot be sold.

The study analyzed data from Kentucky to get their findings.

“Our data indicate that the number of meth lab seizures per capita is higher in dry counties than in wet counties,” the study says. “Further, the level of alcohol restrictions is associated with the number of meth lab seizures in descending order: dry > moist > wet.”

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