Via Twitter, a thoughtful skit attributed to Mark Adam Harold, a City Councillor in Vinius, Lithuania:
We stand around a table. A guy from the mafia stands with us. You take out your wallet. While we are discussing legalisation of marijuana, you have to give the mafia guy ten euros. We keep going. The only way to end the discussion is to agree to legalise marijuana, then the mafia guy has to leave the room and you don’t have to give him money any more. Then, you can put your money in a box called “schools and hospitals.” Then, maybe you will understand why you should stop defending the mafia and start arguing for legalization and taxation.
It’s not so hard to understand.
And yet, we still get the moronic argument that it is up to the drug user to “stop the mafia,” such as in this piece last week by Mario Berlanga in the NY Times: Want to Make Ethical Purchases? Stop Buying Illegal Drugs
Thatâ€™s why Americans must recognize that every time they buy illegal drugs they reward the cartels. […] We can shatter the misconception that recreational drug use is a victimless crime. We must put an end to the hypocrisy that allows people to make purchases based on their concerns about the environment, workersâ€™ rights or animals â€” but not about killing people in Mexico.
Tom Angell responded to that piece with a letter in today’s Times:
Thereâ€™s no doubt that much of the money spent in the illegal drug market goes into the pockets of very dangerous people and organizations, as Mr. Berlanga effectively argues. But trying to shame users into quitting, as the government has done in the decades-long failed war on drugs, hasnâ€™t ever been an effective way to diminish the drug trade.
Only legalizing and regulating drugs can strip drug profits from organized crime, just as ending Prohibition took the booze market out of the hands of the gangsters who controlled the trade for part of the last century.
A growing number of states are legalizing marijuana and putting sales into the hands of responsible, regulated businesses that create jobs and pay taxes. Changing laws and supply chains in this way is a much more realistic solution to the problems Mr. Berlanga points out than persuading millions of Americans to abstain from using drugs.