Policing Cannabis and Drug Related Hospital Admissions: Evidence from Administrative Records

60 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014

See all articles by Elaine Kelly

Elaine Kelly

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 2014

Abstract

Abstract We evaluate the impact of a policing experiment that depenalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in the London borough of Lambeth, on hospital admissions related to illicit drug use. To do so, we exploit administrative records on individual hospital admissions classified by ICD-10 diagnosis codes. These records allow the construction of a quarterly panel data set for London boroughs running from 1997 to 2009 to estimate the short and long run impacts of the depenalization policy unilaterally introduced in Lambeth between 2001 and 2002. We find the depenalization of cannabis had significant longer term impacts on hospital admissions related to the use of hard drugs, raising hospital admission rates for men by between 40 and 100% of their pre-policy baseline levels. The impacts are concentrated among men in younger age cohorts. The dynamic impacts across cohorts vary in profile with some cohorts experiencing hospitalization rates remaining above pre-intervention levels three to four years after the depenalization policy is introduced. We combine these estimated impacts on hospitalization rates with estimates on how the policy impacted the severity of hospital admissions to provide a lower bound estimate of the public health cost of the depenalization policy.

Keywords: alcohol, cannabis, class-A drugs, depenalization, hospital admissions

JEL Classification: H75, I18, K42

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Elaine and Rasul, Imran, Policing Cannabis and Drug Related Hospital Admissions: Evidence from Administrative Records (March 2014). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9856, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2444877

Elaine Kelly (Contact Author)

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) ( email )

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 20 7679 5853 (Phone)
+44 20 7916 2775 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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