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Godfather Tactics By Pot Growers?

One of the most memorable scenes in the original Godfather movie is when the Corleone family pressures a movie mogul by killing his prized horse.  Something similar may have happened for real in rural Humboldt County, California.  The dog of ecologist Mourad Gabriel was killed by red meat laced with rat poison thrown into his back yard.  Gabriel had been studying this poison and showing its detrimental effects on the environment.  Vivian Ho has this story in the SF Chron, headlined "Was scientist's dog poisoned by pot growers to silence him?"

According to Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity, "many of those most affected by Gabriel's research into brodifacoum are illegal marijuana growers who pollute public lands with their illegal farms ...."


There are a couple of things to say about this. First, "we need a suspect and at this point, no suspect has been identified." We can blame marijuana growers or we can conjecture that the victim was an asshole to his neighbors or the neighbors hated the dog or the victim let the dog run loose constantly. So there might be many people, other than marijuana growers, with motive. But, since we know zero facts about the victim, the dog, the neighbors or marijuana growers; it's all just idle speculation.

The second thing is that there would likely not be illegal marijuana growers in ecologically sensitive locations, if the production of cannabis were more generally legal and growers could grow it on private property just like any other cash crop.

1) Of course it's speculation. Hence the question marks in both the title of the post and the Chronicle's headline. "Zero facts" is an exaggeration, but no one claims the crime has been solved.

2) Possibly, although Colorado's legalization doesn't seem to have eliminated its black market. In any event, it is irrelevant to this crime. I am reasonably certain that Nyxo, the victim, had no role in the continuing illegality of marijuana. (And, BTW, you haven't seen any opposition by me or CJLF on this blog or elsewhere. Opinions of our outside bloggers are their own.)

On 1, I meant that we, the readership, have zero facts. I imagine that the police have enough facts to construct at least one narrative and one or more possible perpetrators.

On 2, I would submit that the regulatory regime is as important as the per se legality. My understanding of Colorado is that legal marijuana is so taxed and tightly regulated that the black market(illegal) marijuana is cheaper. The same is true of cigarettes these days. It is overtaxed to the point that people seek black market alternatives.

You put your finger on a big problem with legalization arguments. Legalization is always sold to the voters as something that will be accompanied by strict regulation (for example, prohibition against sale to minors) and that will produce more tax revenue. But, as you point out, both regulation and taxation will produce precisely the black market, illegal distribution, and hence police tactics (stings and dummy purchases, for example) that legalizers claim their programs will end.

As long as there is any regulation on drugs -- regulation the public is certain to demand -- there will continue to be a "war" on the (still profitable) distribution of them.

I would rephrase that, as well as somewhat agree with you, to say; as long as there are laws, there will always be scofflaws. The nature and tone of the regulation determines whether there will be a war or not. There are an infinitude ways to legalize the use marijuana. Some ways induce black markets and scofflaws more than others.

The tobacco industry has entered a phase of regulation where the state has to become very heavy handed in enforcement because the tax regime has placed an onerous burden on consumers.

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