Pot tale of the week

At the Nevada Legislature on May 24, Grace Crosley of the prohibitionist Nevadans for Informed Marijuana Regulation read to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee a June 29, 2016 Fortune magazine article. In the section read by Crosley, it said in part:

“Marijuana legalization [in Colorado] has delivered some surprises statewide to regulators, police and citizens alike. For instance, many people thought legalization would quash the black market for the drug. ‘That’s been a fallacy,’ says Cynthia Coffman, Colorado’s attorney general. Legalization of cannabis stores and grow operations has drawn more drug-related crime.”

In fact, it was not legalization that drew drug crime.

There are two issues here. First, many Colorado advocates of legalization never said it would end a black market. Mostly they said it would eventually reduce black marketing. After all, a cigarette black market thrives in many states like Nevada (“If the price is right,” RN&R, Oct. 22, 2015) even though tobacco is legal and Colorado itself has supplied tobacco to black markets in other states with its low-taxed tobacco products.

Second, there is a misconception that marijuana is legal in Colorado. While Coloradans voted for legal marijuana, the measure they approved had an opt-out clause, and governing bodies in most communities in the state voted to continue prohibition, thereby guaranteeing a continuing black market. Thus, it is prohibition, not legalization, that has fueled the black market.