Legalization Doesn’t End Drug Wars

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The cause of drug violence in Mexico, Central America  and South America is NOT the  US government, as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), ACLU, NORML and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) want us to think. Their argument that the violence of drug gangs and cartels is caused by US policy shows a lack of understanding of the nature of drugs.

If it’s not naivete, it’s probably outright deception to say government can tax marijuana and take profits away from criminals, and the pro-legalization forces probably realize it, too.  In fact, there’s plenty of evidence which  traces the US  heroin crisis, to Mexican cartels moving into poppies instead weed.

Marijuana businesses are incorporating with slick marketing campaigns.  Businesses run by MBAs, like Privateer Holdings, go forward, without a word from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FDA, the Treasury Department, or any other governmental agency that is constitutionally mandated to uphold federal laws.  It could be only a short time before big tobacco companies get into the market, too.

We’re being misled by Ethan Nadelmann, Keith Stroup, Mason Tvert and others who, along with their billionaire benefactors and a complicit media, have turned a dangerous psychotropic drug into a cause célèbre.  The marijuana industry pretends that the US government is to blame for the greedy violent wars between drug cartels, and that legions of people are in jail for drug possession alone.

Benicio del Toro in the 2012 film Savages. Top: Johnny Depp starred in Blow, played George Jung who -- now in jail -- brought the Columbian cocaine trade to the US
Benicio del Toro in the 2012 film Savages. Top: Johnny Depp starred in Blow, played George Jung who — now in jail — brought the Columbian cocaine trade to the US
Some state governments and/or voters  have surrendered to the drug culture because they’ve been misled.

 When Drug Wars Occur

Drug wars happen when growers and cartels compete to have the strongest, most potent strains of marijuana.   Drug wars go out of control when gangs and cartels fight for greater share of the obscene profits.  Competition for the stronger, “better” strains of marijuana — meaning high-THC — is a reason that marijuana is so much stronger today, quicker to cause psychosis and quicker to get our children hooked on it and other drugs.

We can see the violence that comes with the competition in the drug trade in the book and movie, Savages of 2012, with Benicio del Toro.  An earlier movie  Blow, in which Johnny Depp played notorious drug dealer George Jung, tries to illicit sympathy for the criminal who was instrumental in bringing the Columbian cocaine trade to the USA.  It is clear that greed and adventure motivated Jung, without concern about the harmful consequences to others.

Marijuana plants have undergone a huge genetic alteration over the last 20 years to get a higher THC content.   American cannabis plants have been interbred with the plants native to central Asia, where it is believed that the high THC content protected the plants from the sun. THC is the ingredient in marijuana which produces a high, now often as high as 20%, compared to an average around 1-3% in the 1970s.

Marijuana advocates who say “drug wars don’t work,”  play into current anti-government sentiments.  They say those who don’t agree with marijuana must be taking money from the drug-making companies, the police unions, alcohol industry, the prison or prison guard industry.  Otherwise, how could anyone not believe in their psychotropic drug that has been manipulated — to become stronger and to work medical miracles, as they claim? Now it’s revealed that the alcohol industry doesn’t care, and big pharmaceuticals aren’t fight it. In their twisted logic, marijuana financiers say the US has created cartel violence in Mexico. Violence of course has many causes including poverty.

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Most marijuana is grown in the US now.  So Mexican cartels have moved into the heroin trade, and they have strong demand in the US.  There’s also evidence that cartels have moved out of Colorado into Central America, and are causing our heroin epidemic today.

Drug Policy – Violence Theory

The drug policy – violence theory also demonstrates a poor understanding of the nature of humanity.  Gangs and cartels are money-making paths that bring profits quickly.  Anyone can be lured into the profit motive without fully thinking of the harm, particularly when a person is young and risky behaviors make it seem exciting.  There is a certain “high” that comes from evading the law.

Criminal businesses will be always be attractive to both the rich and the poor.  Some cartel leaders are well-educated and even rich.  If it were only about income inequality, many would get out of the drug trade sooner.  We need to foster opportunities for the poor, so they don’t see drug dealing as the only route out of poverty.  Regardless of circumstances, the dealers, gangs and cartels are hungry for power.  They wouldn’t lose power over people, if pot became legal! They would branch out to other crimes such as human trafficking, and to stronger drugs.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Anyone who believe drug wars totally failed should explain:  Why  don’t we hear about Medillín Cartel any longer?  We should be happy that cocaine and crack are less prevalent in the US.

Those who criticize the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) need to realize that the child abuse that comes with drug usage is much greater than mistakes made by the DEA.

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8 thoughts on “Legalization Doesn’t End Drug Wars”

  1. from a Forbes article (“Let’s Be Blunt: It’s Time to LEgalize Drugs”) [yes, Forbes, the Forbes]: “The demand curve for drugs is extremely inelastic, meaning that people don’t change their drug consumption very much in response to changes in prices. Therefore, vigorous enforcement means higher prices and higher revenues for drug dealers. In fact, I’ll defer to Cowen and Tabarrok—page 60 of the first edition, if you’re still curious—for a discussion of the basic economic logic: ‘The more effective prohibition is at raising costs, the greater are drug industry revenues. So, more effective prohibition means that drug sellers have more money to buy guns, pay bribes, fund the dealers, and even research and develop new technologies in drug delivery (like crack cocaine). It’s hard to beat an enemy that gets stronger the more you strike against him or her.'”

    1. You are assuming our reason to oppose legalization has something to do with economics. WRONG. We believe that — at all costs — our children should be save from drugs.
      Your concern is irrelevant to our purpose.

  2. First, re: Malcom’s post above ” “Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase violence.” ?

    Yes, that is a popular notion today and nothing really surprising. Actually just another rallying cry for legalization.

    But do note that homicide rates have declined dramatically all these years as the so-called “Drug Wars” have been waging. In fact, homicide rates are their lowest in many decades. That would seem to contradict the University of British Columbia’s findings.

    Another interesting tidbit: Gun ownership in America under the Obama administration is now at an all time high, in both absolute numbers, some 270 million, and guns per person.

    So that’s interesting too. But note too, incarceration rates are at all time highs also. One might think that more gun ownership might be lowering the homicide rates, or one might think, probably more accurately, that higher incarceration rates are keeping would-be murderers off the streets.

    There IS a lot to chew on. Coming up with simplified answers with simple models can only thrust deeper in the dark.

    My own personal take is that prohibition alone is not the primary factor for the violence in the drug trade. The gangs, cartels and small time dealers are themselves heavily involved in drug abuse, and specifically marijuana is at the core of their propensity to kill. It’s a mental derangement from drug abuse, in conjunction with a naturally violent business anyway, that is the primary cause of the ruthless violence. Just as it is with ALL the radical Islamic terrorists.

    Cops are not being shot, schools being bombed, or malls, or marathons, etc, etc, because drugs are illegal. THEY COULDN’T CARE LESS. The madness is from mental derangement from psychoactive drug abuse, specifically marijuana (or hashish).

  3. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada recently reviewed 15 studies that evaluated the association between violence and drug law enforcement. “Our findings suggest that increasing drug law enforcement is unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase violence.”

    Here is Julien Codman’s testimony (he was a member of the Massachusetts bar) given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:.

    “we will produce additional evidence on this point, that it is not appropriate legislation to enforce the eighteenth amendment; that it has done incredible harm instead of good; that as a temperance measure it has been a pitiable failure; that it has failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

    “We believe that the time has come for definite action, but it is impossible to lay before Congress any one bill which, while clearly within the provisions of the Constitution, will be a panacea for the evils that the Volstead Act has caused. We must not be vain enough to believe, as the prohibitionists do, that the age-old question of the regulation of alcohol can be settled forever by the passage of a single law. With the experience of the Volstead law as a warning, it behooves us to proceed with caution, one step at a time, to climb out of the legislative well into which we have been pushed.”

    1. We never suggest drug violence ends either way. Quoting the UBC study ignores the premises of this article. In state of WA, 2 men were shot and killed the day it became legal!!!, trying to steal from a grower.

      We believe alcohol and marijuana are essentially different, so comparing prohibition of one to prohibition of another is pointless and fruitless.

      Please read the article: Those who love the excitement and chase and committing crime will still do it, regardless of legality. They may go into other types of trafficking such as heroin, or human trafficking.

      1. The article claims US Heroin problem is because cartels moved to poppies from marijuana, why? -because we legalized it in some states? No the U.S. heroin problem is because of Oxycontin pain killers. I would guess the cartels moved to heroin and poppies because the profit is far greater and it’s a guaranteed customer base (they need it everyday). And when one legalizes a substance, we remove profits from the worst of society (dealers, traffickers, etc…) How many alcohol dealers are standing on our street corners in U.S. cities?

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