Will Legalization Actually Reduce the Black Market? Of Course.

Opponents of taxing/regulating marijuana and other drugs frequently maintain that there's just no way we can really cripple the black market. It's true insofar as there's a black market for everything (I saw a lady buy a bootleg DVD from a guy on the subway recently). But people overwhelmingly prefer to do their shopping at actual stores. The burden shouldn’t be on us to prove that pot stores can effectively corner the market on selling pot. Of course they can.

The only reason anyone has a hard time picturing the demise of the traditional drug dealer is because there's so damn many of them, every one of which was created when we stupidly tried to ban drugs.

Anyway, go read this post from Pete Guither which addresses this point quite well.
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The only problem

That I see in the breakup of the drug distribution black market is the number of people it will idle who have no other marketable job skills. That combined with the fact that many of them have been criminalized which gives them even fewer economic sustenance options. Millions of people depend on the black market economically and they will need support or many will seek other illegal economic opportunity.

After alcohol prohibition America saw years of lawless military trained thugs robbing banks and kidnapping people as a means of replacing their income from being security and enforcement for the bootleggers and gangsters.

The undertone of this issue resonates from the prohib argument that there will always be a black market. To the extent that we can come up with responses to this issue is that much further we can get with people who fear crime. If we don't have an answer the prohibs will have the issue.

I often point out that it has taken four decades of criminalizing and disaffecting generations of people to create this bubble of drug market and crime dependent population and so it could take nearly as long to wean the population and fix this damage done to society by the drug war black market economy.

But the issue deserves more extensive rebuttal in terms of the economics of crime and how it sustains poverty oppressed communities.

The drug distribution black

The drug distribution black market has substantially increased annually for about the last 40 years and there are no signs it won't continue to do so as long as the prohibition laws & policies which have also increased annually during that time period continue. Perpetually supporting prohibition is equivalent to perpetually supporting an increase in the black market. That's true even if the percentage of population wanting prohibited items reaches or has reached the market saturation point unless the population stops growing which seems extremely unlikely.

Delaying the end of prohibition laws and policies would increase the number of people who'd need to adjust to the collapse of the drug distribution black market. Likewise it would increase the number of people criminalized before the change. What benefit is there in letting a problem grow worse before dealing with it? What benefit of continuing to do something that becomes increasingly harmful?


I had an employer that was too short-sighted to properly repair a faulty machine despite several occurences of small fires, a small explosion, constant downtime and constant minor repairs that were merely sufficient to get it running badly again. Eventually, the machine had a large explosion with a fire that could have burned the building down and put the department, if not the entire company, out of business. The two operators of this machine survived the explosion by sheer luck of where they happened to be when it occurred, the building had to be evacuated shutting down everything for hours, insurance wouldn't have provided any coverage if the building had burned down as this was the second time the fire department had to be called because of a fire due to the same machine. Repairs to part of the building were expensive, repairing the machine properly was much more expensive than it would have been before the damage due to this explosion and after the machine was finally fixed properly and back in operation the efficiency was so improved that it was clear that proper repair a year earlier would have paid for itself within months by eliminating all the downtime due to bandaid fixes and the employees in the building would have been a lot safer.

I think comparison to noncrime related examples of why many problems should be fixed sooner rather than later could be one persuasive talking point for many people who are open to reason.

anyone that has ever been to

anyone that has ever been to amsterdam and cruised the red light district will tell you.....dealers are not selling weed at all. only coke X and heroin. the reason that is, is because you can buy weed in stores. why buy from a dealer on the street when you could buy it in a store. do you think that if you could purchase any drug this way there would be people on the streets selling drugs?

very good point aahpat

Amazing what you can do when you're making your own arguments and not trashing other reformers and their ideas. If or when it gets that far I suppose Democrats will say fund job training for the displaced drug dealers and Republicans will say, I don't know what. You got any good suggestions? I have the impression a lot of low level illegal drug dealers are dealing to pay the cost of their own habit, which would drop drastically and become manageable, so they wouldn't need to deal anymore if their drug use was legal. That would make part of the problem go away but it definitely will need attention.

I don't need you

patting me on the head for "approved" behavior. Keep your uncontrolled ego away from me.

There would be a bigger war if we legalized

I can see how one could rationalize with the idea of legalization but, that would be the easy way out for the majority. We are fighting the "WAR AGAINST DRUGS" not trying to offer them up more easily on a silver platter. The population is already fully consumed with addicts who need help and most can't get it. If we were to legalize the use of these outlawed drugs the situation would sky rocket! By legalizing we would just be giving up on our people as a whole. The next thing you know there would be no ethics at all for people to follow and the world would be more chaotic than it already is. Therefore I'd don't agree with legalization of the Black Market. If you would like to learn more about addiction please go to http://www.stopaddiction.com


Addictionhelper --

Why would addiction rates "skyrocket" if drugs were legalized? Because you say so? They did not skyrocket why the Netherlands decriminalized, they did not skyrocket why Portugal decriminalized. Alcoholism did not fall when prohibition was enacted and did not rise after it was repealed. Your argument is just fear and supposition, disproved again and again in the real world. If it was just your private fantasy, it would be fine, but such unreason has bought a huge toll in debt, mayhem and death. Examining real cases will both soothe your fears and permit the rest of the world to stop suffering from them.

So we know where you stand, addictionhelper

You prefer that all "illicit" drugs be controlled by criminals in the black market rather than by upstanding citizens in the free market. I'm sorry but most of us here oppose your path.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Addicthelper (that's a scary thought)

Addicthelper?I can see how one could rationalize with the idea of legalization but, that would be the easy way out for the majority.

Me:"easy way out"? If the "easy way out" results in bankrupting criminal gangs, cartels and terrorists then I am happy to seek the "easy way out".

We are fighting the "WAR AGAINST DRUGS" not trying to offer them up more easily on a silver platter.

Regulatory control with licensing and professional oversight is not a silver platter. Addict dealers and gangsters selling tax free on street corners, in bars and on work sites to everyone, even children, is the silver platter that your drug war prohibition hands to America's enemies, both foreign and domestic, today.

The population is already fully consumed with addicts who need help and most can't get it.

Yes. Unlike you we want to do something to correct this dysfunction of the drug war. You do nothing until it is too late and a person is addicted or using and caught by the law. This method is wasting billions of dollars a year in enforcement. And it puts billions of dollars a year into the hands of criminals and terrorists.

With legalization the billions wasted on police and prisons would flow into real on demand public health approved rehab and social service systems to fix people. People who are not problematic about their choices of intoxicants will pay taxes and user fees to help defray the costs of the problematic people.

If we were to legalize the use of these outlawed drugs the situation would sky rocket!

Hyperbole. On average 5% of any population intoxicates regularly with currently illegal substances. That is true for decriminalized countries and for highly prohibited countries.

By legalizing we would just be giving up on our people as a whole.

That is a nanny state mindset. What an ego it takes to look down on the American people in such an unashamed way.

Your the one who's policy preference is to throw Americans into prison and destroy their lives for making unpopular intoxicant choices. If that is not "giving up" on people I don't know what is.

Under legalization we would have confidence in and trust most Americans to act responsibly, as they do now. (Defying the bad drug laws is not a sigh or act of irresponsibility.) I have every confidence in Americans to be responsible without the police standing over them threatening individual freedom and prosperity should a citizen not obey.

The next thing you know there would be no ethics at all for people to follow and the world would be more chaotic than it already is. Therefore I'd don't agree with legalization of the Black Market.

You are habitually transferring your own failures onto those who want to fix your corrupt amoral and chaotic policy preference. Drug policy reform seeks to install regulations and a responsible licensed distribution based on the democratically arrived at values and ethics of the community. Your prohibition insists that no values and ethics at all are possible among users and distributions and so the whole culture and economy must be absolutely banned.

Regulation is to bring the morals, ethics and values of the community to bare on distribution and use.

Your prohibition leaves the values and ethics of drug distribution and sales entirely in the hands of addict drug dealers, gangsters, cartels and terrorists.

Addicthelper: You support a policy

That provides billions of tax free dollars to gangsters, cartels and even America's sworn terrorist enemies.

You are in no position to be lecturing about "ethics".

You support a policy that you know is providing financial aid and comfort to America's blood enemies. That is treason according to the United States constitution. You are in no position to lecture others about ethics.

There will always be black

There will always be black markets for things that are illegal, like pirated DVDs. But we most certainly can make black markets smaller and less of a problem. Just legalizing marijuana would shrink the black market for illegal drugs to something much smaller and easier to contain than what is out there now. Americans consume more marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined. The black market for illegal drugs is mostly a black market for marijuana. According to the US Dept. of Justice's 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexico produced about 15,500 metric tons of marijuana and most of it came here. That's just a staggering amount, 15.5 billion grams. And of course there are massive amounts produced here and some coming in from Canada and other sources. The government estimates that more than 60% of the money made by Mexican organized crime comes from marijuana. Estimates vary on what the total value of the marijuana on the market here is, but it's billions and billions and billions of dollars. If we legalize marijuana and allow for regulated production and sales we can eliminate most of the black market for marijuana, which will eliminate most of the black market for drugs. We can't eliminate all black markets and won't eliminate the black market for illegal drugs entirely just by legalizing marijuana, but we sure could make it a lot smaller and a lot less of a problem for us.

Realism vs. Idealism in the Drug War Debate

Lately, I've been doing a lot of independent research on the current status of the Drug War because, in my opinion, there seems to be some type of paradigm-shift or rapidly changing consciousness in regards to public opinion on the United States' laws and their effects in their relation to the current drug policy. Drug prohibition, as was alcohol prohibition, is a 20th century phenomenon-a reasonable explanation for the generational difference in opinion among our citizenry on drugs and how they should be dealt with in society. I think it all comes down to this: the War on Drugs is essentially a war on American citizen's freedom to choose how they live their life and more specifically what they can or can't put in their body. The government or powers that be obviously do not care how substances, licit or illicit, affect our health, that's a given.
So the real question is why is the government so adamant and relentless in their perpetual campaign to try to stop or somehow reduce illegal drug use in this country if it's not about keeping us safe from their physically harmful side-effects? People can come to the government with the supposed incentive of creating billions in tax revenue from legalizing specific if not ALL illegal drugs, or come up with dozens of legitimate, science-based, objective, unbiased statistics that may serve to support their argument for legalization until their blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is the Government has an arsenal of statistics of their own to back up their agenda, however illegitimate, unscientific or biased they may be. Those in power who create the laws, who ensure that certain laws or legislation is passed and remain enforced, have reasons to justify prohibition that are not based on logic or rational, utilitarian-type thinking. I remember reading the Department of Justice's website's rationalization for prohibition, and I realized the federal government is nowhere near considering legalization. One may say that those who think drug-use will skyrocket and all of society's ills will subsequently be exacerbated are just being hyperbolic or unreasonable, but that's probably what the government really believes. That's most likely why they even came out a few months ago in proposing a type of pilot-program for legalization of marijuana in California, so they can objectively observe its real effects. The nanny-state is real, the powers-that-be have no intention of initiating any type of reversed-leglisation that could potentially upset the established order, because you don't have to convince one another, you have to convince those who enact the laws! After all, we don't live in a democracy, we live in a federal constitutional republic. In just the last 100 years, from marijuana prohibition in 1937 to the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, international treaties (Convention on Psychotropic Substances), and Supreme Court rulings against medical marijuana, prisons have become part of an industrial complex and their seems no end in sight. Besides, one has to consider the effect of bureacratic inertia-the Drug War employs many people in the criminal justice system, from cops, lawyers, to parole/probation officers, judges, correctional officers, etc. In the end, it's all about personal freedom and about each individual's relation to the capitalist economic machine and the order imposed by the powers that be.

there is no law that can save a man from himself

thomas jefferson wrote that ... and why don't we get it? morality is the evil here. a few years ago i published a story in the alternative press about grandparents raising their grandchildren because their kids were in jail from drug charges. i was interviewing an 86 year old woman who was raising five year old twins and said, "you know, there are people that would blame you for your kids being on drugs" and she said, "how would i know anything about drugs? there were no drugs when i was growing up."

heroin was put on the market by bayer in the late 19th century and was considered a miracle drug. but "long day's journey into night" is all about a middle class mom getting addicted to the stuff and the countless cures for her. doctors saw the dangers in the drug and simply stopped prescribing it. but it was still around - but in the '60s, the grown ups were wigging when they saw the kids doing drugs.

and what the government does is look at something a group does that they don't like - such as the mormons and polygamy - make it illegal, send them to jail. control the spread of their evilness in the name of morality. ouch! so - if they made drugs illegal, they could get rid of the hippies. they could stop the assault on their morality.

but why stop there? well - after the civil war, they simply arrested negros and put them on chain gangs. slave labor had to come from somewhere. make a law against being poor. sweet!

and now, we have created a permanent underclass - all of this destruction in the name of morality - we deny financial aid to people who have been convicted of a drug charge. a felony stops you from getting a job. so where are these people supposed to go?

i'm one of them! wrote my own prescriptions. at age 18, slapped with a felony. but lucky for me, i was arrested in a state that will expunge your record in two years if you prove you've been good. god love kansas! but it took me 20 years to be able to afford it.

to me ... this is all an attempt to lock up our minds. the government would be handing out mad amounts of drugs if they thought it would stop civil unrest. the pentagon has valium gas - but the thing is, people are gonna do what they're gonna do.

and no one wants to talk about someone like me - once an addict but now i can do drugs and i never get addicted. i was just young. that's the problem and only time will cure you of it.

but i've spent a lot of time in prison visiting rooms - how sad it is to see little kids running around in there - screaming bloody murder when they take their dad away. and the poor mom left to deal with a two hour bus ride back home again. oh - and they charge you like 2 bucks a minute to talk to someone in prison. why? YOU WERE BAD SO YOU MUST PAY AND PAY AND PAY AND PAY.

but ... the guys on wall street ... oh well. the guys peddling prescription drugs and the doctors lying about clinical findings - they're all trying to get paid. yet we're so focused on the little guy.

this i know: most people do not get addicted. the social users exist and consume most drugs but no one wants to deal with that. yes. there are people who do drugs and don't get addicted. you can't tell an addict that the same way you can't tell an incest survivor that your father never touched you. they say you're in denial. but, reality is for people who can't handle drugs.

all i know is that the drug war will be our shame - in 100 years, we will look back and think "how could we have been so stupid? so brutal?"

oh how the world still dearly loves a cage.


whorella mundane

What Would Happen With Legal Pot?

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting piece on the subject of what a legal pot market would look like, along with some clarifications of the Ammiano Bill pending in California.

You can also vote in a poll that offers pot dispensary alternatives.


Yeah I definitely think legalizing would decrease the black market for marijuana. The vast majority of smokers, I believe, would rather buy it from a legal source like a store than go through a drug dealer. And the ones who prefer to go through a black market dealer will always prefer that....no matter whether it's legalized or not. I mean, you can get tons of alcohol legally through a store, but there are still people in the US that pay tons of cash to smuggle Absinthe in from Europe.

Fake politicians and police involved in black markets

started all these fraudulent prohibitions to make the prices higher. People like addiction helper actually know this and do not seem to care. Notice how addiction helper expresses disagreement with "legalization of the Black Market" ? If markets are legal they are not considered to be so-called black markets. Alcohol was illegal and the market is not dangerous anymore;the drug can be dangerous,but just because a few jerkoffs drive drunk and beat up their families and blame the alcohol doesn't mean that adding more violence by draconian action will improve the situation. Most people know their limitations and should not be penalized or demonized for a few irresponsible peoples drug habits which bad when legal but worse when illegal. People like addiction helper are seriously mentally and spiritually sick!

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