One of the great quandaries of drug policy is the question of whether the price of heroin should be high or low. If the price is high, we’d like to think that this will act as a disincentive to consumption. However, a high price causes an addict’s life to descend into greater chaos. Once the addict’s savings have been spent he inevitably begins to steal, but can only steal barely enough to feed the habit. Once the bills are red and the landlord’s patience exhausted, the addict becomes vagrant and begins to lose his health, leaving him to face either eventual death, or rehabilitation with a price: permanently damaged health for him, and for us, a considerable burden upon the state through the provision of healthcare and thereby the entitlement to social housing. So the question is whether we get value from maintaining a high price of heroin if it costs us far more both in revenue and social costs.
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