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Legalize Dope to Bring Down the Cartels!

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...that, at any rate, is the cry of the pro-pot lobby.  It didn't work in California two years ago, when Prop 19 went down by seven percentage points, 53.5% to 46.5%. Three more states have pot referendums on the ballot this year, however, and at least one of them, Colorado, is thought at this time likely to adopt it.

One of the major arguments in favor of legalization is that, with pot available only on the black market, illegal suppliers  --  specifically, the Mexican cartels  --  are reaping huge profits.  We could bankrupt the cartels, the argument goes, by legalizing and taxing pot, thus filling state treasuries.

I'm going to put to one side for the moment the questions whether (1) it's the right thing to do to help the state generate revenue by achieving a monopoly on selling a harmful substance, and (2) such a scheme would generate sufficient funds to steer the state away from burgeoning deficits  --  deficits that stem less from deficient revenue than from the apparently limitless appetite to spend 'till the cows come home.

Let's instead focus on the main argument the legalizers make:  That if we decriminalize pot, we'll put the cartels out of business.

The short answer is no we won't, as this article explains in gory detail.  What will actually happen is that the cartels will move into supplying other, even worse drugs such as meth.  They won't go away; they'll just grow rich exploiting a different, more dangerous appetite.

N.B.  CJLF as an organization takes no position on pot legalization.

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