The primary response to the harms associated with illicit drug use in developed and developing countries has been to intensify law enforcement in an effort to limit the supply and use of drugs. While considerable resources have been dedicated toward reducing drug supply, increasing emphasis has been placed on local enforcement efforts, including those occurring in drug markets where drugs are sold and consumed.
Drug market enforcement is becoming increasingly controversial since a small but rapidly growing body of research has demonstrated that these approaches often produce various physical, social, and behavioural effects that result in the exacerbation of health-related harms, and the emergence of problems in completely new areas. The ongoing application of these approaches demonstrates that their negative impacts are poorly understood or ignored by both the public who make repeated calls for enforcement and by the politicians eager to appease their voters.
This document focus on mechanisms through which police activities, occurring in drug markets, intersect with the health and practices of illicit drug users, the delivery of health care, and dynamics within neighbouring communities. The authors then conclude with a discussion of the benefits and costs associated drug market with policing and alternatives to this particular approach.