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April 2009
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And with legalization came the inevitable plague of two-headed dogs

NPR’s John Burnett does a bizarre speculative piece: What If Marijuana Were Legal? Possible Outcomes. In it, they attempt to envisage the U.S. two years after marijuana’s legalization.
Radley Balko says that it might be the worst NPR piece he’s ever seen. And Bruce Mirken’s fisk of the story was passed on to the reporter.
Here’s an example of the ridiculous nature of the piece:

Since the prohibition on cannabis ended, has it delivered the results its supporters claimed it would? […]
Now that it’s cultivated domestically and sold legally, surely that has crippled the cartels? […]
[Robert] Almonte, director of the Texas Narcotic Officer’s Association, says all cannabis legalization has done is force the drug mafias to improvise.
“As far as marijuana is concerned, they have been selling it less expensive than what it can sell for here in the United States,” Almonte says. “But more importantly, we’re seeing a more potent marijuana. And with that we’re seeing an increase in the emergency room admissions.”

Now I like imagining things, and I think I’ve got a pretty good imagination. I also understand that we can’t know all the details about what will happen for sure with legalization.
But imagining the future isn’t just about pulling random things out of your ass. You can use logic and current knowledge to at least eliminate some of the more ridiculously stupid assumptions, and yet Burnett swallows Almonte’s nonsense uncritically.
Emergency room admissions up from marijuana?
Legalization causing increased potency?
Cartels selling marijuana cheaper than we can sell it for in the United States?
Really?
Did none of this smell just a little bit… off… to Burnett?
Couldn’t he take just one moment to think through the idea of cartels attempting to smuggle drugs into the United States and undercutting legal sales? Or perhaps explain why Mexican bootleg alcohol isn’t dramatically undercutting alcohol sales in the U.S. Are there dealers on street corners offering Mexican cigarettes for $1.50 a pack?
You know, it really is amazing how often we hear the nonsense that cartels will be relatively unaffected. I do understand that there is quite a bit of cognitive dissonance going on. Despite all the logic and facts we present about how legalization will cripple the income for cartels and drug gangs, people simply don’t want to believe that it will actually work.
Why? For one thing, they’d have to face the fact that all of the violence, death and destruction was easily avoidable.
There’s a second reason. They really want to be able to show off their dicks by physically beating up an enemy. Destroying the cartels by cutting off their business is extremely unsatisfying from a war perspective. You don’t get to beat them. They just go off and do other things.
So what drug war supporters hear is that we want to take away their “victory” (not that one was actually possible) while simultaneously proving that the avoidable destruction of innocents was their fault.
Uncomfortable.

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