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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dry Alcohol Counties See More Meth

In the United States there are a number of counties that prohibit the sale of alcohol; residents need to leave county lines in order to purchase alcoholic beverages. Known as “dry” counties, officials hope that by not selling alcohol they will reduce alcohol related problems. Such counties can typically be found in highly religious areas. Unfortunately, counties that ban the sale of alcohol may find that they have other problems to contend with.

In the state of Kentucky, where there are a number of dry counties, researchers have found that there are greater problems with methamphetamine, The Washington Post reports. Researchers from the University of Louisville found higher rates of meth lab busts and meth crimes in dry counties. If those counties were to become “wet” again, the researchers found that there would be a 25 percent decrease in meth lab seizures.

"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," the authors researchers write in the study

The idea is that when people become accustomed to dealing with alcohol on an illegal level, they are less likely to be dissuaded by another illicit substance, according to the article. The researchers estimate that unrestricted alcohol sales, would result in 37 percent decline of methamphetamine labs.

“Although it’s not clear how well our results would generalize to other states or to substances other than alcohol, our study provides an example in which liberalizing the treatment of one substance can be an effective policy tool for another substance,” the researchers conclude.

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