There are always people willing to take that chance in exchange for the considerable profits that can be made. In this way, the market is not destroyed by prohibition, but merely driven underground.

When something that many people want is prohibited, one thing is certain to happen: a black market will develop to service that demand. Since it cannot be acquired legally, consumers must seek out criminals who are willing to sell this product despite the risk. As we have seen with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and marijuana prohibition today, there are always people willing to take that chance in exchange for the considerable profits that can be made. In this way, the market is not destroyed by prohibition, but merely driven underground.

When a dispute arises between legal businesses, they have different options available to settle them peaceably. They can go to court, or settle it privately through negotiations. However when sellers of illegal products have a dispute there is no peaceable solution available to them and so the guns come out. In 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and alcohol prohibition was enacted people thought it would stop people from drinking. (#1) Certainly many obeyed the law, but millions simply found black market sources. The result? We’ve all seen it in the movies… Cars driving by spraying bullets at rival gang members… Al Capone... Corrupted politicians and corrupted police. Violence between the bootleggers soon became so common that the 18th Amendment became the only constitutional amendment ever to be repealed.

During alcohol prohibition some people even tried to make their own liquor called “bathtub gin”. Not being expert in that task many used the more available wood alcohol instead of grain alcohol resulting in blindness. Similarly, today people are tempted to buy so called “synthetic marijuana” which contains no marijuana but is simply common dried leaves sprayed or soaked in dangerous chemicals that often cause terrible effects, even death. (#2)

You don’t get caught in the middle of a gunfight between the Heineken salesman shooting it out with the Pabst salesman over who gets what shelf space at the supermarket.

Once a majority of Americans realized the terrible problems caused by their attempt to prohibit drinking alcohol became legal again and it became a regulated product like tobacco, breakfast cereal or aspirin and every other product sold legally. It is tested for purity and strength and labeled accordingly, dealers are licensed and hours of sale and age restrictions are enforced. Do we still have problems with alcohol use? Yes, but criminal gangs are out of the business. People aren’t going blind from drinking “bathtub gin”.  Serious disputes can be taken to court. That’s why you don’t get caught in the middle of a gunfight between the Heineken salesman shooting it out with the Pabst salesman over who gets what shelf space at the supermarket. Alcohol is legal and so the control is put back into the hands of the regulated marketplace.  If two illegal drug dealers disagree on who gets to sell on what block that’s when the shooting starts and innocent citizens suffer.

Like alcohol prohibition so many years ago, today’s marijuana prohibition has also failed. Public use of the drug has doubled in the last decade, even after billions spent on futile enforcement efforts. (#3) It is time took this lucrative market out of the hands of gangs and criminals. Only by legalizing and regulating marijuana sales can we end the violence and start putting the profits into our schools and infrastructure.

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