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Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 00:00

“We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs … [W]e have to see it as a strategy to strike and break the economic structure that allows the mafias to generate huge profits in their business”

Vicente FoxFormer President of Mexico



The unintended consequences of cannabis prohibition have been reviewed in detail elsewhere,28-30 but several points are worthy of reiteration. First, economists have long argued that a key unintended consequence of drug prohibition is its enrichment of organized crime groups. As US economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman observed in a 1991 interview on the public television program America’s Drug Forum: “If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel.” From a global perspective, prohibitions on all presently illegal drugs have resulted in a massive illegal market that the United Nations has estimated is worth $320 billion. These profits remain entirely outside the control of governments. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless communities and have destabilized entire countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.31, 32 The role of the cannabis trade in these cycles of violence should not be discounted. Afghanistan, for instance, is the globe’s largest producer of cannabis resin,1 and the illegal market for cannabis has an estimated worth of about $14 billion per year in California alone.30

Similarly, since 2006 when Mexican president Felipe Calderón launched a crackdown on drug trafficking gangs, a drug war has emerged in that nation which has to date resulted in the deaths of approximately 28,000 people.33 Again, the role of cannabis revenues fuelling this violence should not be discounted. For instance, a US government report once estimated that Mexican drug trafficking organizations derive 60% of their revenue from cannabis transactions.34 Regarding the link between drug law enforcement and violence, a recent systematic review of English language research papers that evaluated the association between drug law enforcement and violence demonstrated that, rather than improving community health and safety, drug prohibition contributes to violence in communities by empowering organized crime groups that use violence to gain or maintain market share of the lucrative drug market.35 This review described a literature indicating that successful law enforcement interventions appear to have the perverse effect of making it more profitable for new suppliers to get involved in the market by removing key players. This may explain why both countries bordering the US—Mexico and Canada—are experiencing gang violence between groups that supply cannabis to the US market, despite increased emphasis on drug law enforcement.36

The enforcement of cannabis prohibition also contributes to massive social inequity in the US, with Latino and African American communities most adversely affected. According to a recent report,29 the cannabis possession arrest rate for African Americans in Los Angeles county is more than 300% higher than it is for whites. This disparity exists despite government studies suggesting that African Americans use cannabis at lower rates than whites.37

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 23:02

Our valuable member Administrator has been with us since Monday, 28 April 2008.

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