NYPDIn a radio interview yesterday, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said violence associated with marijuana trafficking in his city should give pause to advocates of legalization. "In New York City," Bratton told AM 970 host John Catsimatidis, "most of the violence we see around drug trafficking is involving marijuana, and I have to scratch my head as we are seeing many states wanting to legalize marijuana."

That has to count as one of the most clueless statements on drug policy by a prominent public figure since Hillary Clinton declared that drugs are too profitable to be legalized. Like Clinton, Bratton is presenting an argument for legalization as an argument against it. Just as Clinton does not seem to understand that prohibition enriches criminals by making drugs artificially expensive and dropping the business into their laps, Bratton does not seem to understand that marijuana-related violence in New York City is a predictable product of the black market.

When alcohol prohibition was repealed, a trade that was once the domain of thugs like Al Capone was taken over by legitimate businesses. You don't hear much about shootouts between Diageo and Anheuser-Busch InBev, or between the newly legal marijuana businesses in Denver and Seattle, because there aren't any. Unlike black-market drug dealers, these businesses have access to a legal system that provides nonviolent ways to resolve disputes. So what Bratton views as a head-scratcher—that people would want to legalize a business tied to black-market violence—is actually a no-brainer.

[via The Washington Times]