Violence is the Result of Prohibition

Supporters of the war on drugs love to talk about the violence inherent in the drug trade. However, as this article posted by the Cato Institute points out, the violence we see in the drug trade today is the result of prohibition, not the drug trade itself:

Violence isn’t any more inherent to the distribution of marijuana or cocaine than it was to the distribution of alcohol in the 1920s. A resident of Chicago in 1929 could be forgiven for wondering whether all the violence on the front page of the Chicago Tribune represented something inherently dangerous in alcohol distribution, but we now know that it didn’t. Prohibition-era alcohol distribution was violent because it was illegal, not the other way around.

Today, the executives of Anheuser-Busch might laugh at the suggestion that alcohol distributors can’t settle disputes without resort to gunfire massacres. So might the members of America’s pharmaceutical industry, who manage to distribute billions of dollars in legal drugs without cutting anyone’s throat.

Unfortunately, Sessions’ logic seems to be seeping into other areas of the administration as well. President Trump, who once favored the legalization of all drugs, recently tweeted that drug violence in Mexico is a reason to further separate our two countries rather than acknowledging the immense role that U.S. drug policy has in stimulating Mexican violence.

Drug prohibition, not a porous border or anything inherent in Mexican society, is what has turned the Mexican drug war into an actual war.

Markets, the voluntary trade amongst consenting individuals, is the opposite of violence. Were it not for the prohibition against certain drugs the market for those drugs would be no more violent than the markets for alcohol and over the counter medication. We’re seeing this today in states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized cannabis. Violence in Colorado and Washington has actually decreased since the violence wrought against otherwise peaceful actors in the cannabis market are no longer being kidnapped by law enforcers.

Every law passed that creates a victimless crime also initiates violence. If, for example, a law was passed against gun ownership there would be a major increase in violence, not from gun owners, but from law enforcers brining violence against peaceful gun owners.

If people like Jeff Sessions actually want to address this issue of violence in the drug market then they need to start demanding the complete appeal of the laws that prohibit that market. Advocating for more stringent enforcement of those laws will only lead to more violence.