Conference of the International Association for the Study of Drug Policy edition:II location:Lisbon date:3-4 April 2008
Why does the contemporary opiate market have such a distinctive configuration with production concentrated in just two countries of the world? The paper seeks to explain this configuration and its implications through the development of a theoretical model of varying effective illegality. The model integrates economic, political, and sociological concerns; it explicitly accounts for the actions and inaction of governments in implementing international prohibitions on opiate production and trafficking.
The paper argues that variations in effective illegality play a key role in determining:
• The configuration of the world opiate market, especially the relative dominance of a handful of opium producing nations that are among the worst governed;
• The size (understood as the number of individuals that are directly involved), organization and modus operandi of the enterprises that produce, process, and distribute opiates in the market; and
• Broader social impacts resulting from opiate production and distribution, ranging from legitimacy of opiates themselves to levels of corruption and violence.
The paper derives from a larger project on the world heroin market, run together by Letizia Paoli, Victoria Greenfield and Peter Reuter (2008). Its findings are being published in Paoli, Greenfield and Reuter, The World Heroin Market: Can the Supply Be Reduced? (OUP, forthcoming).