You need help? Send message

Why did the American cannabis experiment fail?


After the legalization of cannabis in the United States was seriously considered a decade ago, a majority of liberal Americans supported it. It just seemed like common sense. Pot users no longer have to rely on street dealers, so criminal organizations wither away. At the same time, the states would benefit from billions in tax revenue. After all, booze was once prohibited in the United States, which brought about 13 years of black market activity and gang violence, all of which ended with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. in America and contributes roughly $260 billion to the economy. Why should marijuana be any different?

Ten years on, and it’s clear that America’s cannabis experiment has failed miserably. For the 19 states that have legalized weed, the easy part has been passing the policy. The functioning of the legal market is the real challenge.

As states continue to try to sort out the logistics of running a taxed and regulated market, it’s business as usual for illegal operations. Illegal weed still outnumbers legal weed. At the same time, many legal cannabis companies, which must pay a 70 percent federal tax, struggle to turn a profit.

In Illinois, where weed was legalized in early 2020, cannabis buyers must pay about 40 percent in local, state and excise taxes; Illegal sales there reached more than $2 billion last year, simply because consumers in the state have an economic incentive to buy from the illegal market. California, America’s largest legal cannabis market after legalizing recreational use in 2016, is no different. It has generated more than $4 billion in tax revenue since 2018, but the illegal market is worth more than $8 billion a year. The legal market cannot compete: only 25 percent of the marijuana consumed in California comes from legal sources. California is now experimenting with a temporary tax cut on the grow side to save the market from falling into obscurity. Few politicians seem to see the big picture: the drug gangs they are trying to eradicate are going nowhere.

In fact, the demise of the black market is the main fallacy of the argument for legalizing marijuana. If anything, legalization forced hordes of stoners, namely the poor, to continue to rely on the streets. In Colorado, a year after retail marijuana operations began statewide, the resilience of the black market was evident.

Legalization also benefited criminals in states where pot is still illegal. Gangs seized the opportunity to smuggle products across state lines, selling legal weed for huge profits. In Indiana, which is still a prohibition state, the market for cannabis has expanded as the drug is legal elsewhere. Dealers are suddenly brimming with cornucopias of different varieties of cannabis—all grown under the glow of statewide pot laws—as well as vapes, edibles, and concentrates that would never have traveled more than 1,000 miles across America had legalization not been allowed. is not created.

National legalization did not make life easier for the police either. Last year in California, state law enforcement seized 1.2 million illegally grown cannabis plants and more than 180,000 pounds of processed pot. The state’s Department of Cannabis Control is expected to seize $1 billion worth of illegal cannabis products this year. Law enforcement agencies were told that legalization would allow them to focus on real criminal activity—rape, murder, and theft. But law enforcement just can’t shake the burden of drug control.

Law enforcement agencies are also in a constant battle with interstate drug traffickers. Criminal organizations use couriers, airline employees and shipping companies to transport containers to various locations. In many cases, they even use US Mail. The authorities can’t keep up.

In the face of these challenges, President Joe Biden announced last week that he would pardon all federal pot offenders convicted of “simple possession.” The move would wipe out the criminal records of roughly 6,500 people — none of whom had previously served time in prison. Biden suggested similar steps to state governors. He also ordered the Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to review the drug’s Schedule I classification. A favorable assessment may result in marijuana being downgraded from List I of the Controlled Substances Act – as dangerous as heroin.

I’m not against marijuana. I had a 25-year relationship with him and wrote for drug reform in the US for every major cannabis publication. I don’t think anyone should go to jail for weed, and I don’t think prohibition saved Americans from the pits of hell. However, legalization, as much as it hurts, did not save us. The policy change may have made it a waste of time for Mexican cartels to continue smuggling into parts of the country, but it has opened it up to plenty of domestic crime. The cartels moved to America.

Some believe that the difference between state and federal laws is responsible for this failure. They argue that if Congress were to legalize weed nationally and create federal regulation, these disadvantages would not continue. Unfortunately, as hopeful as it sounds, there are strong reasons to doubt that full government support for a legal regime will improve the situation.

Canada legalized marijuana for adult recreational use years ago, and the black market still outnumbers the legal sector. Perhaps a delay was to be expected as people adjusted to the new law – but five years later? The country still has the same problems as the United States in convincing the majority of consumers to follow the legal process. About 43 percent do not want to pay the high tax. If they can get it cheaper on the street, that’s what they do.

During that time, Canada’s biggest cannabis growers lost millions, stock prices fell and many bailed out. There is simply no sustainable growth for the market to survive. Why would the US be immune to these repercussions?

In fact, one of the side effects of legalization is that more people accept the belief that “weed is harmless.” Many people are of the opinion that if marijuana doesn’t kill them, what does it matter? But the lack of fatal overdoses doesn’t mean pot is risk-free. Since legalization in California, the number of hospital admissions related to cannabis has spiraled. While the state’s emergency rooms saw just over 1,000 overdoses each year, that number has since swelled to well over 16,000. Many of them are children. Other legal states have reported the same insanity. In addition to not understanding how to regulate marijuana like alcohol, no one seems to understand how to moderate it socially.

Although marijuana is not as addictive as harder drugs, it has been shown to cause addiction and other mental health problems, especially if the user is genetically predisposed to such things. Columbia University also found that “addiction” rates in legal states are about 40 percent higher than in illegal areas. One Harvard health professional told me that cannabis addiction is largely due to abuse. Most cannabis users simply use too much. “Any substance can be abused, and cannabis is no exception,” he says.

The pro-cannabis camp has spent decades arguing that it’s impossible for marijuana to be a gateway to harder drugs, but that argument is laughably misguided. Marijuana can lead to more dangerous substances just like alcohol. Personally, I found it easier to experiment with harder drugs in my twenties, once I realized that marijuana wasn’t the terrifying, malevolent beast that educators had promoted it to be in my formative years.

Perhaps this experiment should provide a valuable lesson: the abolition of alcohol prohibition almost 90 years ago may have made sense as an effort to recover from the savage evils of the Great Depression. But times have changed. So are people. Legalizing more mind-altering drugs—a move that will surely follow in the wake of legal marijuana—will only serve to destroy a nation already ravaged by drug addiction.

What’s next in America? Legal cocaine? Heroin? Meth? Some parts of the country are already moving towards legalizing psilocybin (magic mushroom). If a taxed and regulated system is the cure for the social ills caused by decades of marijuana prohibition, then it should be the cure for all other drugs, if cannabis advocates are to be believed.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a sad path. The United States may yet find an effective way to advance drug reform. However, legalization does not seem like the right approach.

Source link

Translate »
Compare items
  • Total (0)