We’ve Become the Marijuana Black Market

IMG_4153.JPGSome criminologists fancy pot legalization as a magical scheme to get control of the black market for this drug, simple economics easily predicted what is actually occurring when states legalize and “regulate” pot. The black market thrives in the midst of expensive and aggressive “legitimate” pot markets.

Washington State’s pot consultant said in 1978:

“If we legalize marijuana or any other drug, either we will have a
private industry whose profits depend on creating addicts. Or we have a public beauracracy whose revenues depend on creating and maintaining addicts. Somebody’s going to get the revenue stream; whoever gets that revenue stream is going to try to maximize it.”

“This dynamic presents a much bigger threat to America’s Public Health picture that the legalizers seem to appreciate.”

Now we seem to be on a mad trajectory of proving in policy practice what we already knew in theory.

Since the melodrama “Prohibition” was televised, dramatizing every existing social pathology with very little of the public health costs associated with broader alcohol consumption patterns post-prohibition, the magical thinking that drug legalization is useful has begun taking root. The emboldening of a new generation of pot profiteers has resulted in what? The highest levels of adolescent pot use seen in 30 years. And a steadily escalating concentration of THC in the product supply to pander to the customer who “expects intoxication” to quote an pot industry rep engaged in the negotiations around safe serving sizes in pot products there after 2 deaths linked to pot infused edibles in the first 4 months after legalization in Colorado. All this just in time for neuroscience to be giving us images of the damage being done to the developing adolescent brain with pot exposures.

Here’s the Colorado experience:
“We’re supposed to eliminate the black market, but we’ve become the black market for so many states,” Gorman said. “It’s all about making money for most of these people. I send you marijuana or edibles, and you pay me for it, and I can get a lot more money by trafficking it to states where it is illegal.”

If gross domestic consumption of marijuana’s more damaging cannabanoids in highly concentrated form goes up under this scheme, and the public health harms predictably follow, this wild ride into releasing ganga on the masses will be a failure on its face.

But didn’t we already know it was doomed before we tried this little experiment on the American people?

Alas, some lessons are learned the very hard way — by counting the casualties and reversing course.