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March 2012
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Headlines that are smarter than prohibitionists

Mexico Kills Cartel Big Shot, But Drug Violence Worsens

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20 comments to Headlines that are smarter than prohibitionists

  • strayan

    Oh no, we’ve got one of those morons who thinks that the drugs cartels are going to be able to replace their main source of income with income from other types of crime. If there was that much money to be made from other types of crime, they’d already be doing it!

    • Francis

      Yeah, that’s a classic prohibitionist move. I ALWAYS see some version of this comment:

      Yes, legalising drugs will make the cartels suddenly stop doing what they’re doing. They’ll pack in all of their criminal behaviour and open up an orphanage or community care center.

      Here’s how I like to respond:

      No legalizing drugs won’t eliminate organized crime (set the bar impossibly high much?), but it WILL deprive them of THE primary source of their profits and hence power (after all, there’s a reason we call them “drug cartels”) and it WILL eliminate the structural incentives that fuel violence in the (non-alcohol, non-tobacco) drug trade. And arguing that the cartels won’t be hurt by legalization because they’ll simply refocus on other crimes is economically illiterate. It’s like arguing that McDonald’s stock price wouldn’t fall if they couldn’t sell burgers and fries anymore. After all, they could always “refocus” on their salads and coffees. And the fact is that ACTUAL crimes like extortion or kidnapping (you know, the kind with victims) are HARD. And they’re hard precisely BECAUSE there are victims. Victims have a tendency to resist being victimized, sometimes violently. And victims have an incentive to call the police, report the crime, and cooperate with the investigation. In contrast, drug “crimes” are EASY because they don’t produce complaining witnesses. You’re selling a product to a willing buyer in a consensual exchange. Instead of producing victims, it produces satisfied customers. Instead of calling the cops, they’re more likely to call their friends to refer you more business!

      • MaineGeezeer

        Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( http://www.leap.cc ) addresses the difference between what he calls consentual crime and crimes that have victims. There may be a video on YouTube of him talking about it.
        As you point out, consentual crime such as drug sales is easy for criminals, but very difficult for the police to prosecute. That is why the war on drugs has resulted in such an erosion of civil liberties and abuse of police power. It’s a desperate effort to get information by any means possible, Constitutional or not, when nobody wants to talk.

      • darkcycle

        The rackets are full, have been for thousands of years. Organized crime never became powerful enough to challenge entire governments through prostitution or extortion. The profits just aren’t there to be made, UNLESS you throw in the international drug trade too. Illegal card games and whorehouses might make you rich, but they won’t make you king.

  • claygooding

    I am beginning to think my pet rock is smarter than prohibitionists and I haven’t fed it for years.

    The local cop said that closing down drug dealing would not effect the cartels,,,I asked him what the cartels could sell/do to replace the loss of products that makes them billions of dollars,,the money required to arm themselve and buy the corruption required for them to outgun and outrun the drug warriors. He is still searching for an answer.

  • primus

    They used the wrong connector. It should have read: Mexico Kills Cartel Bigshot So…… not ‘and’.

  • I do not agree that the cartels derive 70% of their income from cannabis (especially as we continue to state cannabis is our number one cash crop – I mean, fuck, that would be an awful lot of pot smoking going on), or that legalization in the US will cripple them. That reasoning forms the basic argument made by our drug policy reform leaders, as well as Gary Johnson.

    A good argument can be made that, whatever the lost income, the cartels will seek to replace it by stepping up production and distribution of the drugs still under their control: meth, cocaine and heroin (and let’s not forget the probability they could introduce opium for our smoking pleasure), all areas where violence is the highest and most deadly.

    It is that possibility, and it is considerable, that poses the greatest risk to the incremental approach to drug policy reform. Try to imagine how much hay the prohibitionists will make should those rosy predictions: broken cartels and greater safetly on American streets, do not come to fruition.

    • claygooding

      Daniel,,a whole lot of pot smoking is going on,,more than the government admits too,,because it sure wouldn’t do their side much good if too many smoke.

    • claygooding

      “”A good argument can be made that, whatever the lost income, the cartels will seek to replace it by stepping up production and distribution of the drugs still under their control: meth, cocaine and heroin (and let’s not forget the probability they could introduce opium for our smoking pleasure), all areas where violence is the highest and most deadly.””

      I want to hear the argument. When you increase quantity of a product without demand for it,,your profits drop.

      And 60% was the figure given by ONDCP and FBI before they had Rand run that purely propaganda “research” that reduced marijuana revenue from 30 billion a year too 2 billion.

      • Duncan20903

        .
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        There is no good argument to be made that the cartels would be able to snap their fingers and “make up” the lost income after cannabis re-legalization. It’s one of the more absurd arguments made by the prohibitionists. I’ve read reasonable estimates of gross profit from cannabis is in the neighborhood of $10 billion. The lame argument that the cartels would simply make up this income demands that we believe that there is $10 billion in gross profits available today that are not being exploited by the cartels. Are we to believe that the cartel members just aren’t greedy people? That they take what they need and leave the rest? Perhaps they have a social conscience and prefer to make their money from pot because they know that hard drugs are orders of magnitude worse for the end user. Or perhaps handling pot has given them “amotivational syndrome” and they’re just too lazy to exploit those markets? How hard would it be to throw an extra couple of kilos of meth, heroin, or cocaine on one of their multi-ton shipments of pot?

        No, this is an actual example of arguing that we need to keep pot illegal otherwise the criminals will get into real mischief, and it’s an absurdly twisted point of view. One primary piece that people miss is that there are a huge number of lower level players who are willing to participate in the cannabis black market because they know that cannabis is relatively harmless. These people would not start dealing cocaine or meth if they didn’t have the opportunity to make money from cannabis. They’d more likely get a part time job delivering pizza to supplement their income.

        It is beyond absurd to claim that the cartels wouldn’t suffer a severe body blow if deprived of their cannabis income. Only those ignorant of the machinations of the black market could even consider making such an absurd argument.

    • darkcycle

      Sorry, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…rackets have been around since people, and the rackets are full. There aren’t any markets to replace drugs because those markets are already operating full speed to fill the need. There is no way for the cartels do anything more than shift the existing rackets from hand to hand.
      How many more whorehouses and illegal casinos do you think they can build? Where will the tens of millions of customers come from?
      That argument assumes that there are vacuums out there left to fill. It borders on magical.

  • To claygooding and Duncan: here’s the argument. We all seem to agree that government estimates of illegal drug users; 23 million, is low. I believe the number is closer to 50 million, so let’s use that total. And let’s say that they all smoke pot, and average about one pound per year. That’s 50 million pounds per year. Still with me?

    And since cannabis is our number one cash crop, let’s say that homegrown (not grown by cartel operations) makes up about half, leaving 25 million pounds for the cartels. And that net profits per cartel pound are around 300 dollars, as cartel pot tends to be lower quality. That totals 7.5 billion dollars net profit per year from pot. And since we do agree government numbers are low, their high-side estimate, made in 2007, that cartel US profits were 24.7 billion, must also be low.

    But let’s say they’re right on this one, and that cartel US profits haven’t risen much since and remain around 25 billion per year. (It’s probably closer to 50 billion, though, but let’s not get distracted.). 70% of 25 billion dollars is 17.5 billion, which means net profit per pound would be greater that 600 dollars, which doesn’t make sense. But if you agree cartel US profits are closer to 50 billion, they’d be making a net profit of closer to 1200 dollars per pound – on 25 million pounds of pot! – which really does not make sense.

    Yes, the cartels will lose money if the US legalizes pot. And, yes, they will seek to replace those profits by increasing the manufacture and distribution of those drugs still under their control. Will they replace all those profit dollars? Probably not. But they will replace a certain percentage, by price reductions and other means, and remain very much in business – and no less violent and dangerous.

    So it remains dangerously naive to believe the cartels will be put out of business, and our streets will be safer, should the US legalize cannabis. And unless legalizing cannabis makes a significant impact on cartels and the violence, not just a dent, the prohibitionists will regain the upper hand and double-down on efforts to re-criminalize cannabis.

    Be careful what you wish for…

    • darkcycle

      You extend too many hypothetical numbers there, Dan. And as you say, the amounts of cannabis crossing the border are likely much larger than what our government will admit. But, you are forgetting, again, the rackets are full, there is no way for the cartels to replace that business. Also it is worth mentioning that a large quantity of the cartel’s profits come from transshipment of coke. BUT the coke is the poor cousin to the reefer. While the coke brings a higher street value per pound and is easier to smuggle than bulky, stinky pot, the cartels mainly have to BUY it from someone (Peruvians, Columbians, Bolivians), and take the hit to markup of having to cover someone else’s profit margin. As well as move the product from farther away and across multiple borders. A costly process. By contrast, the reefer can (and is) grown by the cartel’s tenant farmers just a short truck ride from it’s destination. The profits are in the weed,it’s the laws of the market.

    • Duncan20903

      .
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      You keep pressing the nonsense line “put the cartels out of business.” I’ve never read an informed cannabis law reform advocate who makes that prediction. It’s tiring enough watching prohibitionists beat up their straw men.

      I suppose you think that after re-legalization we’re just going to pay all those sworn peace officers to guard the counter at the Dunkin’ Donuts?

      • darkcycle

        Wasn’t it you who said if we just legalize weed, rainbows would fill the sky and unicorns would dance with leprechauns?
        At the very least, I was hoping the queen of hearts would find her tarts….
        and of course, Guzman would find Jesus, and go open orphanages or organize a toy drive. (right now he owns Mexico and President Calderone…okay, maybe he doesn’t own them out right, but he is making lease payments with prohibition dollars)

        • Duncan20903

          No, no, no, I said that leprechauns would cross breed unicorns until they’re 100 times more potent than your grandfather’s unicorns.

  • Duncan20903

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    Here’s a pretty cool headline:
    House votes 162-161 to decriminalize marijuana
    By Garrett Brnger
    Associated Press / March 8, 2012
    ———-
    That’s New Hampshire’s House and I copied & pasted the article writer’s name. Don’t get too excited, the idiot Governor has promised to veto the bill if it passes.