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How does legalising cannabis influence the purchasing choices of cannabis consumers and the modus operandi of illicit cannabis suppliers?

Cheekes, Erik 2022. How does legalising cannabis influence the purchasing choices of cannabis consumers and the modus operandi of illicit cannabis suppliers? PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The past decade has seen the unprecedented uptake of cannabis legalisation, a trend likely to continue. However, the consequences legalisation poses for illicit cannabis markets are currently empirically underexplored despite an often-discussed benefit of it being harming the illicit market. This thesis analyses how, and why, recreational cannabis legalisation may affect consumer purchasing decisions (i.e., their decision to buy cannabis illicitly or legally), the modus operandi of illicit cannabis suppliers, and wider cannabis trafficking flows. This thesis uses a mixed-methods parallel databases design to answer the above questions. Qualitative research involved thematically analysing online forum conversations of self-described illicit cannabis consumers and suppliers who discussed their experiences with recreational cannabis legalisation. Key insights indicate a commercially competitive legal market may encroach upon illicit market demand while threatening the profits of local illicit cannabis sale. Consequently, suppliers experiencing difficultly described either desisting or adapting their illicit modus operandi towards supplying the under-age market, selling other illicit drugs, or trafficking. Consumers and suppliers described little impact if viewing the legal market as commercially uncompetitive. Quantitative research involved analysing a source of self-reported longitudinal illicit cannabis price data on the United States. Descriptive statistics identified distinct price drops coinciding with Coloradoan legal sale in its neighbouring states. An interrupted time series model identified negative associations between Coloradoan legal sale beginning, and prices in neighbouring states. Similarly, a multiple linear regression model identified a negative association between the number of active Coloradoan retail licenses and prices. Potential explanations for these associations include legal cannabis diversion (by supplier or consumers) alongside illicit cannabis trafficking. Altogether, the present research indicates a commercially competitive legal market may affect and harm the local illicit cannabis market. However, policy makers should consider the unintentional consequences of a commercially competitive legal market for displacement and public health.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 August 2022
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2023 02:23

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