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An argument for legalizing drugs
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Allow me to state that I am anti-drug use but I believe we are going about it the wrong way.  I believe a pragmatic approach is what is needed.

Dennis Wyatt’s analysis (“California could make Mexican drug cartels bolder” - July 31) of the Mexican drug cartels is well done but only deals with the current situation. I believe we need to change the playing field. His first point is that the cartels that control multi-billion of dollars won’t go quietly into the night. I agree that they won’t if they have a choice and profits are what give them a choice. The partial legalization of marijuana protects the drug cartels by restricting the supply. Restricting the supply drives the price up and increases the profits. Lets look at this issue from the cartels point of view.

First of all, competition is restricted because it is illegal. That’s good for business. They make enough money to hire armed guards to protect their crops. Regular farmers growing legal crops don’t need that kind of protection. The cartels can use violence to restrict competition. The cartels like their current situation because the current laws protect them from the marketplace.

I haven’t heard of a pot shortage in the last 40 years. It grows easily. Why does it cost more than a pack of cigarettes? The premium and extra profit comes from the “illegal” branding. Making it illegal gives it an undeserved risk premium that the cartels enjoy.

If we take our current approach of making marijuana marginally legal Wyatt is probably right that the cartels will brutalize the small growers to protect their profits. The question is how will they be able to afford to protect their interests if marijuana becomes a farm legal crop like tobacco?

 The cartels may become the legitimate growers and be more efficient than the new entries into the marketplace due to their expertise but they will then be regulated and pay taxes. It is time to realize that marijuana is a crop like tobacco. (Tax marijuana the same as cigarettes) as that would give us $4 in taxes per pack of joints.

Right now medicinal marijuana makes us “half pregnant”. Will a full legalization make it so heavily used that it will have a negative effect on our society? The argument is that the legality and lower price will increase the use of Marijuana. There is no doubt that some people will have problems with it just like alcohol. Taxing the profits would greatly enhance our ability to help those folks with problems because I haven’t heard of the cartels opening a clinic. I would advocate the legalization of marijuana while strengthening the rights of companies to drug test and reject applicants who test positive.

There is no moral ground to stand on here. Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, crack, heroin...are all bad for us. My take is that by taking the high moral road on illegal drugs, we are increasing the supply of dope of all kinds

I advocate the legalization and taxation of many drugs along with strong laws to protect the private sector’s ability to drug test and harsh penalties for driving while impaired. It is time to realize that prohibition of any form just increases the profits and hence the supply and that policing these crimes is exhaustingly expensive. While the intentions are good, our current system just hasn’t been successful. Legalizing drugs will push the illegals out of business. How many folks do you know making a living with a still?  I truly believe that reducing drug sales can only be achieved by ripping the profits out of the business and thereby eliminating the sales force.