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20 June 2011

The Legalization Canard

Via Tyler Cowen, there's an Op-Ed in the Times arguing that legalizing marijuana will do little to stifle the power of the drug cartels in Mexico. The article notes that the cartels are more than capable of altering their "business model" to meet such a threat.

But the real pointlessness of the legalization discussion is how preposterous the notion is. Sure, we could - and should - completely de-criminalize the personal consumption of marijuana (or any drug, for that matter). But that will change little - personal drug use carries rather light penalties these days.

In order to use drugs, you need to be able to acquire it. (Let's forget self-cultivation for a moment). That means you need to buy it - and buying it means there has to be a market. So does legalization also include selling it? And if legal to sell, it must therefor be legal to distribute, and thus to manufacture. Are we really going to legalize the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana - for profit? Remember, no profit, no market.

A free, and unfettered market in marijuana? No such market could even be contemplated in the U.S. of A. Ok, so it must be regulated - whose going to do that? How immense a bureaucracy must that be? What kind of standards would be established? Who'd establish them? What legislator is going to vote on this year's acceptable level of THC per gram of leafy material? Or is the FDA going to be the arbiter of what is safe in marijuana? How will they enforce their standards?  What kind of licensing will be required? How strenuously do we need to monitor each sale to ensure no minor ever gets his hands on any of this otherwise legal product? And when all is said and done, how would such a tightly controlled market not be vulnerable to black-market end runs, and wouldn't this market look very much like it does today?

We already pay a pretty hefty price to enforce alcohol control, which is of course a very legal product. But alcohol was always legal and unregulated until relatively recently - marijuana legalization is a new concept - but it's legalization would be introduced at a time when substances once thought relatively benign - such as cigarettes and cold medicines - are themselves coming under increasingly tight control. Meaningful legalization of marijuana is simply a preposterous notion these days.

Regarding self cultivation, sure, you could grow a little pot in a planter for personal use, but any more and you become a distributor. Do you honestly think that's going to be allowed? Kids get busted for operating lemonade stands these days. Legalization simply can't happen - not in any fashion that would eliminate the black market.


Blogger Steve Sailer said...

How about if we cut back on efforts to catch marijuana smuggling from Canada? I suspect there would be fewer decapitations that way.

June 21, 2011 9:01 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Unless there's a lot more like this guy than we think.

June 22, 2011 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a rather unfortunate line regarding the victim:

"identified him as Tim McLean, saying he was HEADED to Winnipeg..."

June 25, 2011 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>But alcohol was always legal and unregulated until relatively recently<

1918 was "relatively recent"?

In any case, that pesky word "always" is, well, pesky as always.

July 06, 2011 9:00 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

My point is that alcohol has a multi-millennia history of legality in western culture. Yet it still consumes huge law enforcement resources.

July 06, 2011 4:42 PM  
Anonymous pharmacy escrow said...

I think that legalizing marijuana is a good idea because in that way states can stop the traffic of those drugs, on the other hand I think it is so good because marijuana helps people with many diseases.

November 09, 2011 12:34 PM  

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