The Price of Prohibition

The Price of Prohibition
Posted by CN Staff on July 21, 2005 at 19:06:00 PT
By Ari Armstrong
Source: Boulder Weekly
Colorado -- A Catholic, an atheist, and a leftist walk into a Boulder bar. There's no punch line, but the three laugh in memory of the ridiculous, freedom-sucking prohibition laws on gardening and consuming a particular herb. The three could be writers from Boulder Weekly in the not-too-distant future. Hell, the bar might even sell the herb (though I'll still stick with the drug alcohol). As Wayne Laugesen recently reminded us, a "report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that 10.33 percent of Boulder County respondents admitted to pot use in the past month."
Colorado's state average was 7.89 percent. In the eyes of Colorado law, all of those people are criminals. Any legal system that turns so high a fraction of the population into criminals is unstable, unjust and open to constant abuse.Such a system is also expensive. In a recent televised debate, Governor Bill Owens, who, you may recall, supported one of the world's largest drug manufacturers for U.S. Senate last year, claimed, "We're in a real crisis in the state of Colorado." Owens, along with many Democrats and some other sellout Republicans, are asking Colorado taxpayers to fork over an estimated $3.1 billion over the next five years, on top of already-scheduled budget increases. When you walk into the voting booth come November, just remember that the state and local governments of Colorado spend $64 million every year to turn nearly a tenth of the population into criminals. Not real criminals, who actually hurt other people or their property, but criminals in name only, gardeners and herb users who have done nothing wrong. You pay government in Colorado to harass, arrest, prosecute, force into "treatment," lock away, fine or threaten a tenth of your neighbors. Handing these politicians even more of your money will only encourage them to avoid cutting wasteful programs, such as marijuana prohibition. According to a study by economist Jeffrey Miron, a visiting professor at Harvard, the state and local governments also lose an estimated $17.6 million in tax revenue because marijuana is not taxed, for a net loss of $81.6 million every year. See: Currently, government collects tax revenues from the sale of the drug alcohol. Alcohol is so politically correct that your tax dollars subsidized part of a half-million dollar liquor tab for the University of Colorado, according to a report by the Rocky Mountain News. Yet, as Jim Kouri, Vice President of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote recently for, "Although alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths are in decline, alcohol abuse is still linked to a large percentage of criminal offenses, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Almost four in 10 violent crimes involve alcohol, according to the crime victims, as do four in 10 fatal motor vehicle accidents. And about four in 10 criminal offenders report that they were using alcohol at the time of their offense." And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, "In 2001, an estimated 75,766 [alcohol-attributable deaths] and 2.3 million [years of potential life lost] were attributable to the harmful effects of excessive alcohol use" in the U.S. If marijuana should be prohibited, then it is even more important to prohibit the drug alcohol. Those who argue alcohol should be legal must, unless they are hypocrites, make the same case for marijuana. (By the way, most of the adverse health consequences associated with marijuana can be eliminated by consuming it in a way other than smoking.) If marijuana is a "gateway drug," then so is alcohol. However, only a small fraction of people who use marijuana or alcohol go on to use drugs like cocaine, and one doesn't cause the other. Of course, some funds would still be spent to enforce laws against endangering minors with alcohol or marijuana. A release regarding Miron's report notes it "estimates that replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year. In response, a group of more than 500 distinguished economists—led by Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Milton Friedman—released an open letter to President Bush and other public officials calling for 'an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition,' adding, 'We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods.'" Changing Colorado's laws would save money—and increase liberty—regardless of what the national government does. However, as the Denver Post noted, medical marijuana users "should know they could still face federal charges, the state attorney general said. The state health department, which oversees the medical marijuana registry, is composing a warning to let people who apply for the registry know that, said spokeswoman Cindy Parmenter." For national politicians and police forces to violate Colorado law and the federalist guarantees of the U.S. Constitution is offensive enough. For them to do it to punish the sick is disgusting. Coloradans concerned about justice, liberty and fiscal responsibility must demand that Colorado politicians fight to protect the rights of Coloradans against legal abuse. Friedman and Miron are right. Newshawk: The GCWSource: Boulder Weekly (CO)Author: Ari ArmstrongPublished: July 21 - July 28, 2005Copyright: 2005 Boulder WeeklyContact: letters Website: Articles & Web Site:The Miron Report for a Marijuana Sales Tax City, USA - Boulder Weekly High Cost of Prohibition
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on July 28, 2005 at 15:19:31 PT
US CO: LTE: Marijuana dialogues  
Pubdate: July 28, 2005Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)Referred: at: 
Marijuana dialogues Many Boulder Weekly editions have exposed the price of prohibition (Re: "The price of prohibition," Liberty Beat, July 21), but there is another higher price that must be grasped. The price of cannabis prohibition is freedom of religion. People have used cannabis for spiritual religious reasons throughout history. That the U.S. would prohibit this spiritually implicated plant is a blatant failure to allow an environment conducive to honest freedom of religion. Fact is, the U.S. government has done much to perpetuate a dark, bloody, Biblically sinful battle to eliminate cannabis and the cannabis culture. This isn't just a corporation lying about a product; this is a government stating they promote freedom of religion, yet deny my historical legitimate religious culture that is acceptable to Christ God Our Father. That is many things, but that's not freedom of religion. By extension, the price of cannabis prohibition is peace. My culture believes cannabis is the tree of life as written about in Revelation 22 and is for the healing of the nations. Without the tree of life, what will heal the nations? Exterminate cannabis, the tree of life, and how will the nations heal? The cost of cannabis prohibition is higher than the buzz itself. Truthfully, 
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on July 24, 2005 at 08:24:43 PT
What are Catholic's doing to cannabist's?
Catholic's are part of the punch.All the plants are good, according to the very 1st page of the Bible.Somewhere down the path, there was a fork.One way is Christ God Our Father; He who says He created all plants and they are all good;Down the other fork, is where Catholic's are, who teach to cage humans who choose to use one of Our precious Father's gifts.I suspect there are many people that don't know what it is to say they are Catholic or they would instead aspire to be obedient.As far as the cannabis issue is concerned, Catholic's are disobedient Christians.The pope is partly why We are persecuted.If the pope, served Christ God Our Father enough to obtain the "Spirit of truth," there would be no cannabis prohibition.Disobedient clergy, separates themselves from Christ God Our Father, by denying Christ God Our Father, starting on the very 1st page of the Bible.The obedient Catholic supports caging one another for using cannbis.The obedient Catholic is not an obedient Christian.And because of it, cannabis and cannabis users suffer.Cannabis users are being punched by Catholic's.Cannabis users would be able to live in peace better with out Catholic'sNot according to Me.According to the out in the open truth for all to see.  
The Green Collar Worker
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on July 23, 2005 at 08:14:36 PT
Warning: Bible Verses Follow; Reader Discretion
On Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Raich:"He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it." Proverbs 11:26BTW, "corn" is Jamaican slang for ganja (cannabis)!On the Bush administration's war on the sick and dying:"Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoil them." Proverbs 22:22-23On the Bush administration's corporate favoritism:"In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince." Proverbs 14:28"He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he the honoureth him hath mercy on the poor." Proverbs 14:31"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." Proverbs 21:13"He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want." Proverbs 22:16"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." Proverbs 29:2"The righteous considereth the cause of the poor, but the wicked regardeth not to know it." Proverbs 29:7On the ONDCP and GAO:"Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight. Proverbs 12:22"A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies will perish." Proverbs 19:9"If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked." Proverbs 29:12Neo-con "compassionate" conservatives of the "religious" right, live your faith!
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Comment #4 posted by Agog on July 22, 2005 at 13:30:05 PT
Runderwo - Nice Post
Hi Runderwo,I like the way you put together your analysis. Extending or perhaps adding to it, consider if you will;1. Law of Unintended Consequences - by attempting to eradicate cannabis they have actually created more varieties than ever before. I've seen a proliferation of seed varieties over the last few years. I would also venture that a more "distributed process" has been created as more folks choose to undertake home cultivation. I haven't tried to analyze prices to correct for inflation, but based on general availabilty I think that they have been completely ineffective at reducing supply. As this trend continues eradication will become even more unrealistic.2. Your point about using other substances is also very good... adding to it, consider that people are choosing more dangerous alternatives simply because they won't register on the drug test du-jour. Hasn't there also been an increase in the use of "inhalants" over recent years? Save the children... yeah right, to the parents out there, is it safer for your child to sniff glue or some aerosol, or consume cannabis? So, in the attempt to "save the children" what has really happened is they have been incentivized to consume and experiment with more dangerous substances merely to evade detection. Case in point, teenagers experimenting with Jimson weed and dying.All the Best R/Agog
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Comment #3 posted by mayan on July 22, 2005 at 05:15:02 PT
For national politicians and police forces to violate Colorado law and the federalist guarantees of the U.S. Constitution is offensive enough. For them to do it to punish the sick is disgusting.There is no excuse for these scumbags. Harassing the sick and dying is as low as you can go. If there is to be any justice in this world or the next I wouldn't want to be the fascist prohibitionists. Here's a good article in which Johnny Pee gets ripped on... Seattle could learn from a city up north: unrelated...Alaska to continue medical marijuana program: OKs bill clarifying medical pot: Shut Down Drug-Smuggling Tunnel: WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...Congressional Briefing on 9/11 to Air on Web, TV and Radio For the World to Hear: Emergency Truth Convergence - July 22-24: Was an Inside Job - A Call to All True Patriots:
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Comment #2 posted by john wayne on July 21, 2005 at 23:43:06 PT
no wait, I've heard this one
Colorado -- A Catholic, an atheist, and a leftist walk into a Boulder bar....
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Comment #1 posted by runderwo on July 21, 2005 at 21:46:52 PT
I thought of a novel economic argument regarding legalization. It relies on the assumption that demand for cannabis remains fixed, an assumption supported by data from the Netherlands quasi-legalization experiment (if we chalk up the negligible observed increases to more willing admission of cannabis use in surveys, where in a more repressive regime there would have been no such admission).Intuitively, this assumption would mean that the vast majority of people who would ever be interested in experimenting with cannabis have already done so and reached the level of use they feel comfortable with. This would mean that prohibition enforcement on the DEMAND side generally has no dose-response relationship with the level of cannabis use. (A few people win the black lottery and get put away, but that is considered more of a random outcome than a consequence, so the possibility is generally ignored, except for outspoken people who create targets of themselves.)On the SUPPLY side, there is a piecewise argument. You have to consider two separate groups of people. Cannabis users, and drug users.Cannabis users are those who enjoy cannabis, and whether or not they have tried other intoxicants, cannabis is what they want - in the absence of cannabis they will have nothing. Drug users are those who are looking for intoxication of any sort, and they will seek whatever messes them up the most for the least cost. Cannabis and alcohol are most frequently used due to their availability, but when they are not available, more risky drugs such as heroin and cocaine will do.Prohibition enforcement on the supply side has a different effect on these two groups. In the first, the demand for cannabis is inelastic. They will pay whatever the going rate is. The effect of a supply bust on this group is that the street price is raised. They still buy it as long as supply exceeds demand at the quality level they want, at whatever price is asked. The only outcome of prohibition therefore is that violent crime is increased due to the black market stakes being raised in the short term.In the second group, drug users, the effect of cannabis prohibition on the supply side will be to raise the price, just like the other group. However, this group has an elastic demand for cannabis. They will not use cannabis if the price exceeds the level of fun they obtain from it. So they move on to the next best bang for the buck. Usually this ends up being something even more dangerous than cannabis. This substitution effect is what continues to confound any survey that attempts to show that attacking cannabis on the supply side is effective at reducing harm.Supply-side prohibition is based on the idea that either the price can be made too high for the average person to consume the product (already rebutted above - cannabis users will pay the higher price, and drug users will find something else to get wasted on), or that eventually if enough product is eradicated and enough suppliers jailed, the demand will exceed the supply and people will be forced to find something else to do - the cannabis user cannot obtain cannabis for any price in this scenario. Unfortunately, this is an impossibility when it comes to cannabis. First of all, cannabis is a weed - it grows in the ground. No manufacturing facility or expertise is needed to grow weed. No supplier has a unique capability to grow cannabis that becomes removed from the market when he is jailed. This is vastly different from many other illegal substances, like LSD - where very few people possess the knowledge and skill to manufacture the substance, and the precursors are not readily available; in this case, attacking the suppliers does put demand out of reach of supply. With cannabis, it's like manufacturing CO2 - everyone has the skill and the means necessary!Finally, much prohibitionist rhetoric is based on the assumption that legalizing cannabis will lead to greater availability of cannabis and thus more cannabis in the hands of children. Ignoring the various rebuttals to this chain of reasoning (carding minors, and 90% of students reporting cannabis is easy for them to obtain despite prohibition's best efforts) I think the claim that even decriminalization (ceasing prohibition on the demand side) will lead to greater availability is questionable using another different argument.Under prohibition, there are several consumers of cannabis - cannabis users, drug users, and law enforcement! If we assume mostly inelastic demand for cannabis (by assuming that the majority of cannabis consumers are cannabis-only users), the effect of law enforcement on the cannabis market is to 'sink' some of the supply, driving prices up. The natural response of the supply side of the market would be to produce more, because there would be an opportunity for a new supplier to undercut the current market rate and still make a profit. In effect, this drives the price back down to the equilibrium point where all demand is met, and enough supply exists where further suppliers would not consider the profit at market rate worth the risk of getting busted. Because it is impossible to make cannabis demand exceed supply (see above), this equilibrium point will be CONSTANT in a decriminalized market just like any market, regardless of how much law enforcement, IF ANY, is thrown at the supply side. That is because the market returns to equilibrium faster than law enforcement can upset the equilibrium again by stealing and destroying product, and removing sellers from the market. The reason? Back to the reasoning from above - the barrier to entry is so low that anyone can become a seller. Sellers enter the market faster than law enforcement can remove them.Sure, there will be local minimums and maximums, but looking at the whole market, there is no way supply side cannabis enforcement can ever be effective. For cannabis users, the price returns to the same equilibrium after the short-term fluctuation caused by busts, so they wait out the dry spell, knowing that things will get better, or become a producer themselves since the barrier to entry is essentially nil. For drug users, they find a more cost-effective substitute in the meantime and maybe come back later if they haven't died or become a cannabis devotee yet.This last part is especially what struck me. The idea that supply side prohibition can ever be effective in deterring consumption of the product assumes that either demand for the product is elastic, or that demand can be made to exceed supply by removing supply. I think the former assumption is generally false when it comes to cannabis, and the latter is an impossibility.I always "knew" that cannabis prohibition was a fraud but the magnitude of fraudulence never quite occurred to me until now.
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