THE BLOG

DEA Issues Empty Threat

11/22/2013 10:22 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014
  • Norm Stamper 34-year veteran police officer who retired as Seattle's chief of police in 2000

"TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) and criminal groups will increasingly exploit the opportunities for marijuana cultivation and trafficking created in states that allow 'medical marijuana' grows and have legalized marijuana sales and possession."

--The 2013 "National Drug Threat Assessment," by the Drug Enforcement Administration

Really? How in the name of Logic 101 does the DEA arrive at this conclusion? Just exactly what are those "opportunities" for criminals to grow and sell pot in states whose laws allow for the regulated cultivation and sales of "medical marijuana"? And how would said criminals "exploit" the states of Washington and Colorado, whose voters a year ago legalized adult recreational use?

Did authors of the latest "Drug Threat Assessment" sleep through their history class on America's grand experiment with alcohol prohibition? What if the DEA were the "Alcohol Enforcement Administration" of yesteryear? A fictionalized look back:

In its 1933 "National Alcohol Threat Assessment Summary," the Alcohol Enforcement Administration offered this dire warning:

"TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) and criminal groups will increasingly exploit the opportunities for alcohol distillation, brewing, and winemaking, along with alcohol trafficking...in states that allow alcohol for 'medicinal' purposes [or that] have elected to end prohibition and legalize alcohol possession by adults."

Reached in her bunker that shields her from so-called "reality," AEA administrator Michele Leonhart said, "This development should strike fear into the hearts of law-abiding residents of Washington and Colorado who recklessly passed initiatives that allow adults to possess bourbon, beer, and burgundy for so-called "'recreational purposes.'"

Administrator Leonhart condemned academics, scientists, economists, physicians, public health experts, law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors, mayors, governors, Republicans, Democrats, political independents, religious leaders, educators, voters, legislators, and former prohibitionists for bringing about repeal of the Volstead Act, thereby "undermining the health and welfare of children in all 48 states."

Leonhart was unswayed by the "tiresome arguments of anti-prohibitionists," namely that U.S. drug laws actually cause crime and violence, invite official corruption, strain relations between the police and the citizenry, and undermine respect for the law . "Mark my words," she said. "Criminals will now mercilessly cash in on this permissive environment. Rates of crime and violence will soar."

Let's see, in 2012 Washington State and Colorado voters passed laws legalizing adult possession of small quantities of marijuana. Both states adopted stringent regulatory measures governing marijuana possession "from seeds to sales." Further, each has elected to maintain or strengthen restrictions against furnishing to minors or driving under the influence.

And each state has calibrated tax rates for state-licensed growers, distributors, and retailers intended to produce two basic effects: (1) the generation of substantial revenues to finance education, drug abuse prevention, and treatment, and (2) a level of taxation (and private profit) that will effectively drive organized criminals out of the business.

The DEA fails to understand that replacing prohibition with regulated legalization effectively wipes out the structure of economic incentives that keeps those nefarious TCOs and criminal groups coming back for more, and more, and more...

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