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A lesson for gun prohibitionists: Prohibition empowers criminals

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The Washington Post reports that Mexican drug cartels are increasingly moving out of the marijuana business, in large part because a growing number of American marijuana users can obtain high-end cannabis grown domestically--and legally--as more and more states legalize medical marijuana (and even recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado, with more states likely to follow suit). The ensuing hit on the profitability of illegal marijuana commerce (the article cites a wholesale price drop of over 75% over the last five years) is rendering that business model unsustainable:

“It’s not worth it anymore,” said Rodrigo Silla, 50, a lifelong cannabis farmer who said he couldn’t remember the last time his family and others in their tiny hamlet gave up growing mota. “I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.”

[ . . . ]

And, increasingly, they’re unable to compete with U.S. marijuana growers. With cannabis legalized or allowed for medical use in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, more and more of the American market is supplied with highly potent marijuana grown in American garages and converted warehouses — some licensed, others not.

Granted, most of the article is devoted to explaining that the cartels are replacing the lost marijuana revenue with an increased reliance on heroin and methamphetamine--drugs that happily, for the drug cartels, are still very illegal in the U.S. and elsewhere. There is no sign of that changing in the foreseeable future, so Attorney General Holder's Department of "Justice" need not worry that their favorite gun customers will run out of money.

The point, though, is that marijuana legalization is very bad news for those who make their money meeting the rapidly disappearing illegal demand. Conversely, of course, a formerly legal product that becomes banned, or even "merely" so heavily regulated that it had might as well be banned, opens up brand new money-making opportunities for those who value profit over the rule of law.

That's a thought that should give pause to those who advocate ever more oppressive regulation of firearms. And again, the Mexican drug cartels provide a prime example. Mexico's gun laws, far more restrictive than even the most optimistic anti-gun group in the U.S. would dare advocate publicly, have done nothing to stem the massive carnage in that unhappy country. Instead, they have made gun trafficking into Mexico a nice, lucrative adjunct to drug trafficking out of Mexico, while at the same time ensuring a paucity of legal guns with which the law-abiding in that country can defend themselves from the narco-terrorists.

The greater the "successes" of those who advocate onerous regulation of firearms in the U.S., the more like Mexico's they manage to make our gun laws, the more they will benefit criminal organizations that are more than willing to kill to protect their profitable markets. The more, in other words, like Mexico this country will become. The question is, would that be a bug, or a feature?

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