Mark Kleiman misses it again. He’s at a conference on “drug markets and violent crime.” He reports:
Result: substantial violence around sales of pot and untaxed cigarettes. (As usual, the violence is often ascribed to “turf battles” or business disputes, but in fact turns out mostly to be routine interpersonal disputes among angry young men with guns.)
Now this is interesting. And it’s fascinating to see cigarettes in this equation, as New York has one of the most (if not the most) drastic cigarette taxes in the country. New York State is 8th in the country with $1.50 per pack in taxes, and New York City adds an additional$1.50, bringing it to $3 per pack in taxes.
But now Mark tries to oddly use the cigarette example as a way to stop… well… people like me.
Does that suggest perhaps that the amount of tax has to be taken into consideration? I mean, Mark even said it: “…since a high tax…”
Not when you’ve got a blind spot that you can drive a truck through. Even while admitting both the “high tax” and the “one limit” qualifiers, he dismisses legalization and regulation out-of-hand.
The right policy response isn’t obvious? Yeah, it sure is tough to figure out. Let’s see…
- Strict Prohibition: Too extreme.
- Light Prohibition: Doesn’t get them off the streets.
- Extemely High taxation: Encourages black markets.
Nope. Mark can’t quite come up with anything to put in that fourth option.
(Here’s a hint, Mark. There are many places in the country where cigarette smuggling isn’t a black-market item. You might want to take a look at what happens when the tax rates aren’t extreme.)