April 24, 2019 | 57° F

Drug illegality causes violent subculture


In Monday's column titled "Buy locally grown marijuana," the author contends that marijuana use is immoral because it supports the violent Mexican drug cartels that result in thousands of deaths every year. More specifically, the author writes: "Proponents of the legalization of marijuana often refer to smoking weed as a ‘victimless crime.' This is a glaring oversimplification of the act, one that ignores where the marijuana you are currently smoking may have come from, and what kind of tragic violence was left in its wake." While it is true that marijuana, and illegal drugs as a whole, carry with them a violent subculture, the author fails to consider the true cause of this violence; the fact that the drugs are illegal.

When the government bans a good or service that there is demand for, it does not prevent that thing from being provided; it merely changes who provides it. Legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, are produced and sold by legitimate businesses that are subject to contract enforcement. Thus, there is no violence in the production and distribution of alcohol and tobacco. Illegal drugs like marijuana, on the other hand, cannot be provided by legitimate means. Instead, gangs and street thugs that are not subject to contract enforcement provide them. What does this mean? If one party violates an agreement in a marijuana deal, the other party obviously cannot ask the government for help in setting things straight. These disputes must be dealt with by other methods — shootings, stabbings, you name it. The tragic violence and death that is so widespread in the drug trade would be all but eradicated if drugs were legalized.

Admittedly, it is not entirely clear that the column's author was actually arguing against marijuana legalization. In fact, it is possible that the only goal of his column was to urge marijuana smokers to make sure that they buy locally grown stuff. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out that while the author appears to debunk the point of view of marijuana-legalization proponents, he actually lays the foundation for the most convincing argument in their favor.

Matthew Simcha is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in economics and statistics.


Matthew Simcha

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