The $49-Billion Black Market Industry
I recently re-read a (fabulous) book called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The story is about a convicted Australian bank robber who’d escaped from prison and lived in India. Throughout the narrative, Mr. Roberts shared several philosophies, of which one is: Black markets for things exist because the white markets are too strict. This is true in regards to drugs.
Drug usage is prevalent throughout our society; and the current opioid crisis reflects how people are desperately seeking to combat emotional, mental, and/or physical pain. I recently heard the term “waste basket drugs”—where individuals are routing through others’ trash seeking anything that can relieve their anguish.
While I was researching Busted, I came to the conclusion that the war on drugs is a colossal waste of resources, time, and money. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, and it’s not working with drugs—especially marijuana.
The September 17th Los Angeles Times had an article about marijuana farms. Marijuana is a $49-billion black market industry, and California leads the nation in its production. The report stated that by 2010, the state grew enough cannabis that it could provide more than three-quarters of the illegal supply in the country. Since then, marijuana has been California’s largest export commodity, eclipsing almonds, diary, walnuts, wine, and pistachios combined.
California legalized medicinal marijuana in 1996, and allows growers to harvest 99 plants, one plant below the threshold for a five-year-federal prison term. On September 12th, 2017, the California State Assembly passed the RISE act (SB 180) in a 41 to 25 vote, and the legislation has gone to Governor Brown for his approval. This sentencing reform reverses the trend of locking up non-violent drug offenders for fifteen years or more. It would also repeal the law that doubles or triples a person’s sentence if they are convicted of a nonviolent drug sale or similar offense.
Why am I supporting the decriminalization of drugs? I have a M.S. in economics, and the problem boils down to supply and demand. As long as there is demand, someone will supply it. I agree with Mr. Roberts: the way to end black markets is to legalize, regulate, and tax the supply. Will this solve all of our problems? No. But it’s a start.
What do you think? Do you agree, or do you have a different perspective?
Warmest Regards, Michele Author, Busted www.michelekhoury.com https://www.amazon.com/author/michelekhoury