Marijuana

DEA Claims Repealing Prohibition Fosters Organized Crime

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Comedy Central

In its 2013 "National Drug Threat Assessment," released today, the Drug Enforcement Administration predicts that marijuana legalization will be a shot in the arm for organized crime:

TCOs [transnational criminal organizations] and criminal groups will increasingly exploit the opportunities for marijuana cultivation and trafficking created in states that allow "medical marijuana" grows and have legalized marijuana sales and possession. 

That's a pretty bold claim, inasmuch as marijuana produced and distributed by, say, state-licensed growers and retailers in Colorado and Washington is marijuana that is not produced and distributed by, say, murderous Mexican drug cartels. In fact, antiprohibitionists often argue that legalizing cannabis commerce weakens organized crime by cutting into its revenue. But here the DEA is saying criminals will in fact welcome legalization, because it will enable them to get more involved in cultivation and trafficking. Exactly how that will work is a bit mysterious, but here is the basic outline of the DEA's argument, as told from the cartels' perspective:

Phase 1: Legalize marijuana.

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Profit!

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, does not get it, probably because of all that reefer he's been smoking. "The DEA's claim that marijuana legalization somehow creates moneymaking opportunities for the cartels and gangs that largely control today's black market for the drug is simply absurd," he says. "As prohibition comes to an end and as the market is brought aboveground, more and more consumers will make the obvious choice to purchase their marijuana from safe and legal businesses rather than from violent crime networks that don't test and label their products for potency. I suppose the DEA would have us believe that ending alcohol prohibition somehow created 'opportunities' for gangsters to make even more money selling legal booze than when it was illegal and they were the only source."

The DEA may be taking its cues from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who a couple of years ago insisted that we can't legalize the drug trade because "there is just too much money in it." Also too many criminals!

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  1. In its 2013 “National Drug Threat Assessment,” released today, the Drug Enforcement Administration predicts that marijuana legalization will be a shot in the arm for organized crime[…]

    That’s like McDonald’s releasing a paper on the danger of increased childhood obesity if Chicken McNuggets were suddenly banned.

  2. Statists gonna….. Justify their paychecks, cuz first biotches

    1. Phase 1: Legalize marijuana.

      Phase 2: ?

      Phase 3: We’re outta business!

      1. Phase 1: Legalize marijuana.

        Phase 2: Tax the hell out of it.

        Phase 3: Black market profit!

  3. TCOs [transnational criminal organizations] and criminal groups will increasingly exploit the opportunities for marijuana cultivation and trafficking created in states that allow “medical marijuana” grows and have legalized marijuana sales and possession.

    Never mind the historical facts that contradict such a statement. No, what burns the eyes to a crisp is the sheer ignorance of ecomomics that is being showcased up there! As if once legal, there wouldn’t be thousand upon thosannds of small producers popping up everywhere, thumbing their noses at the “TCO’s” [“transnational criminal whatever the fuck, who gives a shit“].

    1. Obviously you haven’t read about the explosion in bootlegging and organized crime in illegal alcohol trade after Prohibition was repealed. It really happened that way in the alternate universe that the DEA occupies.

      1. Damn Coors and Budweiser gangs have shoot-outs in my neighborhood every week.

        1. Oh, is that what it’s about? I thought it was a difference over what sports teams they support.

          -jcr

  4. It’s possible that they’re referring to the ‘organized crime’ that gets elected. After all that is what is happening in Colorado.

  5. because it will enable them to get more involved in cultivation and trafficking.

    So, excluding medical marijuana, cartels currently have practically 100% of the market. So if we legalize, they could have more than 100% of the market?

    1. Cartels do not have nearly 100% of the market. A lot of dealers grow their own stuff, and often become known for their particular strain. I really like the weed that my guy sells–that’s why I go to him. I would never, ever purchase “cartel weed”. Only stuff where I know who grew it and what I’m getting.

        1. Microgrow!

        2. Artisinal dope? And you bitch about mayo?

  6. The DEA may be taking its cues from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who a couple of years ago insisted that we can’t legalize the drug trade because “there is just too much money in it.” Also too many criminals!

    One of those pro-prohibition boiler plate arguments is the one that says that criminals will simply switch to something else and not stop being criminal so what’s the point of ending prohibition. This is the kind of argument that gives me – someone who is allergic to non sequiturs – an anaphylactic shock.

  7. Just like after they repealed the 18th Amendment: bootlegging liquor is still a huge, um…criminal…uh, something?

  8. Why is a reason now a platform for imperialist, Likudnik propaganda? Watch the movie Defamation by Yoav Shamir.

    1. Sure, right after I watch Yentl.

      1. Ah, no, I mistook what he meant. It’s American. Hi, American. Go fuck off now.

  9. Yes, the 21st Amendment made bootlegging more profitable than ever.

  10. “TCOs [transnational criminal organizations] and criminal groups will increasingly exploit the opportunities for marijuana cultivation and trafficking created in states that allow “medical marijuana” grows and have legalized marijuana sales and possession. ”

    If they are growing in states where it is legal, that’s not exactly trans-national anymore, is it?

    1. Good god man, it isn’t even interstate commerce!

  11. Yes, that’s why I’m a Libertarian in one sentence. Government officials really ARE that stupid.

    1. No, they just think we are.

  12. It really depends on how regulated and taxed it is. The Mafia makes lots of money off of cigarettes.

    They don’t even do anything fancy. They buy them in states with low taxes, drive to NYC and sell them.

    That’s why legalization isn’t enough – they need to be unregulated as much as possible, and with low taxes. But we all know the government will tax the hell out of them, just because they smell money.

  13. It actually does make sense:

    1. Legalize marijuana in some states.

    2. Have the cartels set up legal marijuana grow ops in those states.

    3. Export the marijuana into states where it is illegal.

    4. Profit!!!!

    I support legalization by the way.

    1. Arbitrage. It works in the legal market, and works even better in the black market.

  14. “DEA Claims Repealing Prohibition Fosters Organized Crime”
    Who do they think is going to believe this?

    1. They’re worried about losing their jobs.

      1. They shouldn’t be. Regulated-and-legal mj will likely result in WAY MORE government jobs than the DEA currently has filled.

    2. Most voters.

    3. Cops,DA’s and and all other government employees whose jobs are predicated by filling jails and courts.

  15. The funny thing is that there is actually a moment of self-realization in the report, but of course they take the completely wrong lesson from it (that more regulation, not less, is the answer)

    Possible reasons for these increases in [heroin] overdose deaths include:

    People are switching from abusing prescription drugs to abusing heroin.

    Law enforcement and treatment officials throughout the country report that many heroin abusers began using the drug after having first abused prescription opioids. These abusers turned to heroin because it was cheaper and/ or more easily obtained than prescription drugs and because heroin provides a high similar to that of prescription opioids. According to treatment providers, many opioid addicts will use whichever drug is cheaper and/or available to them at the time. Several treatment providers report the majority of opioid addicts will eventually end up abusing heroin and will not switch back to another drug because heroin is highly addictive, relatively inexpensive, and more readily available. Those abusers who have recently switched to heroin are at higher risk for accidental overdose. Unlike with prescription drugs, heroin purity and dosage amounts vary, and heroin is often cut with other substances, all of which could cause inexperienced abusers to accidentally overdose.

    1. Ugh. That they came so close to recognizing this particular harmful effect of opioid restrictions, only to miss the point entirely, is somehow worse than if they just said nothing at all.

      Not to mention that a big part of why opioid painkillers are over-prescribed in the first place is that less addictive alternatives, like marijuana, are prohibited in most places. Again, ugh.

      1. “Not to mention that a big part of why opioid painkillers are over-prescribed in the first place is that less addictive alternatives, like marijuana, are prohibited in most places. Again, ugh.”

        TRUE THAT!

      2. Why are you claiming they’re overprescribed when the facts overwhelmingly demonstrate otherwise?

  16. Also from the report

    Methamphetamine will remain highly pure as the gap between potency and purity continues to narrow; prices will remain low. With the inflow of high-quality Mexico-produced methamphetamine, large-scale domestic production will continue to diminish;

    Woohoo! Does that mean I will finally be able to buy cold medicine without giving blood and stool samples?

    however, it will not disappear.

    Guess not. Dangit.

    1. Woohoo! Does that mean I will finally be able to buy cold medicine without giving blood and stool samples?

      Yes, because sperm and egg samples are preferred anyway.

    2. What’s “the gap between potency and purity”? Don’t they tend to go together?

  17. “The DEA’s claim that marijuana legalization somehow creates moneymaking opportunities for the cartels and gangs that largely control today’s black market for the drug is simply absurd.”

    The cartels and gangs could expand into packaging or advertising.

  18. Yet the Israelis-as-Nazis metaphor is a stark illustration of how far such criticism has gone beyond the pale. Such analogies do not get thrown at states with far worse human rights records, such as China or Russia; even South Africa’s racist apartheid regime, however reviled, was not routinely attacked as Nazi-like. The Israelis are singled out for this comparison precisely as Jews?the primary targets of Nazi genocide?who have supposedly traded places with their murderers. If this is not anti-Semitism, what is?

    What a load of horse shit. I remember the anti-apartheid protests in the eighties, I remember how people spoke of the Soviet Union. There was far more criticism of those too regimes and comparison to the Nazis that there is of Israel now.

    1. Wait, what? Did I miss something in this article? Or are you just a troll?

      1. He just posted in the wrong thread. It happens a lot for some reason.

  19. Another government apparatchik tells a bald faced lie as propaganda. What a shock.

  20. The DEA IS organized crime.

  21. When I was a kid, there was a referendum to legalise para-mutual betting on horse racing in Oklahoma (it passed). At the time, there were a lot of people panicking over this, claiming that it would lead to a huge increase in organized crime. I talked to a lot of the people, and I gradually got some idea of how their minds worked, at least in regard to this issue.

    Apparently, a lot of people think of certain businesses, such as gambling and drugs, as being inherently criminal. Criminal businesses are run by gangsters. Gangsters are evil, criminal types who are just automatically attracted to sinfull disrepuatable businesses.
    So if drugs are legalized, then there will be more drug business, and therefore, more business for gangsters.

    It makes rational sense if you accept the basic, underlying premise. Sure, that premise is pretty stupid, but very few of these people ever really look closely at their underlying assumptions– they only look at the last step of the argument. This sort of mentality is extremely common for any issue with strong emotional components. (Look at how many usually rational people start spouting ridiculous non-sequitars whenever ‘sex crimes’ are involved.)

    A lot of people are terrified of crime and/or drugs, and they’ll jump on any argument that supports those fears. And for a group like the DEA, whose jobs depend on continuing prohibition, there is even more reason to grasp onto any feeble rationalization they can think of.

  22. SUMMARY in order to understand ALL of this: If money is moved around by the threats of force and violence of Government Almighty, it is a GOOD THING! If money is moved around by the consenting will of non-coerced, consenting humanoids or other entities in a free and un-coerced market, that is the EVIL results of greedy, selfish, me-before-the-pepples, profits-B4-the-pepples, 1%-BAHSTAHDS!!!! NOW do ye unnerstand?!?!?

  23. I for one am impressed that they dreamed up a new bureaucratic acronym for international drug cartels: TCOs. I wonder how many millions they invested in developing that.

  24. The Mexican cartels aren’t going anywhere as long as poor and older people continue to smoke schwag. Low-grade cannabis won’t be sold in stores because it will be taxed by the house, but some people love it (for some reason) and will continue to get it.

    1. ounce, not “house”

    2. I don’t agree. I believe the Mexican schwag will either be wiped out in favor of superior domestic product or become part of the licit trade and thus be industrialized.

      Maybe the cartels will participate in the normal market but my bet is that there won’t be enough money in it. If all drugs were legalized, the only way there’d be to profit from most drugs would be through industrial production and the profits would be low on a per unit basis.

      Just like the end of prohibition on alcohol meant the end of most illicit trade, so it would be for drugs of all other sorts.

      The biggest benefit would be from standardization of the doses and purity and of course moving from a punishment system to a treatment system. Treatment would be cheaper as it would be sought by fewer people than are being prosecuted. Also, the cost to society would go down as a result of not making felons out of drug users. Felons have little chance of redeeming their lives. Many if not most are driven into lives of poverty and recidivism.

      Absent the “tattoo” of felon, they might be productive citizens AND drug users. Lord knows there are plenty of alcoholics that hold down jobs. Maybe even in the DEA!

    3. If the tax on a “legal” ounce exceeds the price of an imported ounce, no tax will be collected on it. Will the taxman stand for that?

      (MJ Lite: Great Taste, Less Flying)

    4. Low-grade cannabis will certainly be sold in stores. Shitloads of low-grade beer is sold in stores and it is taxed the same way.

  25. Kind of like when the prohibition of alcohol was repealed and we had a big explosion of crime.

    Oh wait! I have that bass-ackwards just like the DEA jackasses that think that the next bust will be the tipping point and victory will be had in the war on drugs.

    Problem is that increasing prohibition increases the transaction value and thus increases the amount of money one stands to make by participating and so further perpetuates the trade.

    Look, I call it one of the “inevitables” to coin a word. Every eventuality should be viewed as inevitable. In many situations, the changing views of society will lead to a change in government and the legalization of POT is one of those things that will eventually happen. The thing to do is to recognize the “inevitables” for what they are and act on them by accepting them early so many lives won’t be lost or ruined by bad public policy.

    More destruction has been wrought upon society by the prohibition than by the prohibited. In the case of pot, there has never been a death linked directly with the consumption although it could be argued that some have lost their lives because the induced state caused them to do something stupid but the numbers are likely low.

    Of course, alcohol is much worse with people dying as a direct result of drinking too much: almost 29,000 in 2008 (the most convenient stat I could find).

    Otherwise, there were about the same number of deaths attributed to all illicit drug use that year.

    1. Any argument in favor of pot that purports to ascribe malicious intent to a bottle of rum can diaf.

  26. If by “organized crime” the DEA means “government”, then maybe the DEA has a point.

    There was certainly MORE government regulation and enforcement (generally at the state level) of alcohol after Prohibition was repealed. If you think state alcohol boards are bloated bureaucracies, wait until you see the state marijuana boards.

    (And if you think the same state board that regulates alcohol could regulate marijuana, you don’t know how government operates.)

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