Pot tale of the week

In an interview with Guy Farmer in the Nevada Appeal, prohibitionist Genoa lawyer Jim Hartman said of Colorado marijuana supporters, “They claimed the marijuana black market would disappear with legalization, but it didn’t.”

Here’s the part Hartman didn’t tell Farmer—legalization never came to Colorado. It came to certain places, but remains illegal in more than 240 towns and cities and broad swaths of the state. So, naturally, there is still a black market. Colorado Amendment 64, enacted by voters in 2012, left it up to communities to decide whether to make marijuana legal.

Moreover, this they-claimed-the-black-market-would-go-away pitch is repeated often by critics of marijuana, but they rarely cite sources. Hartman does not name anyone he is quoting. Colorado supporters of 64 didn’t necessarily all speak with one voice. Some may have made the claim, but certainly not all. We have been unable to find anyone who said the black market would just go away. Rather, they tended to say illicit marijuana sales would be reduced. For instance, this is the Denver Post in 2012:

“[Mason] Tvert and other supporters of the measure have said it will generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments. They said it would shed light on the black-market marijuana industry and ultimately cause dangerous cartels to wither.” Ultimately is a good word to keep in mind. After decades of prohibition and government-generated crime, it takes a while for the effect of restored liberty to be fully felt.