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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Heroin Markets

The world heroin market today commands an estimated annual market value of US$55 billion and affects around 12 million people. After a short description of the current state of the world heroin market and its basic properties—maturity, segmentation, and elasticity—this chapter briefly outlines the history of heroin consumption and its regulation over the last 150 years. Historically, most interventions in the heroin market sought to curb its availability and consumption by using either vinegar (incarcerating drug sellers and users) or honey (diverting addicts to treatment). However, there is no conclusive evidence that either way is effective in reducing the number of heroin users and addicts; to a large extent, drugs become popular or fall out of fashion due to the natural history of epidemics and other social and cultural factors. Thus, the traditional drug policy goal of addressing the root cause—reducing the number of heroin users—is largely misplaced. Currently, many scholars conceive of “harm reduction” as an overarching goal of drug policy. As health-oriented harm reduction does not aim to curtail drug use per se but reduce some of its harmful consequences, criminological harm reduction applied to drug-related crime does not aim to prevent violation of drug laws per se but rather to prevent certain harmful consequences of drug use and sales. We then use the influential Goldstein model of drug-related crime to show how harm reduction principles can be applied to heroin-related drug crime. 

In book

Springer International Publishing, 2017.