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End Insanity Of The War on Drugs—Start With Decriminalizing Marijuana at The Federal Level
CNBC.com | April 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM EDT

In light of the recent drug-related violence in Mexico, it is appropriate to reflect on how our current prohibition laws affect crime, law enforcement and the economy. Many will have the knee-jerk reaction of wanting to see more of a crackdown on illegal drugs. But I have to ask: Haven't we been cracking down on drugs for several decades only to see the black market flourish and the violence escalate? Could there be a more effective approach?

The illegality of drugs is, in fact, the Number One factor that keeps profits up for dealers and cartels, and ensures that organized crime dominates the market.

Cocaine, for example, has about a 17,000-percent markup and sells for more than gold in some areas. This is nothing new or unique to drugs, but a predictable outcome of prohibition.

During alcohol prohibition, Al Capone and others involved in organized crime made fortunes taking advantage of the dangerous and lucrative underground market the laws had created. Every time law enforcement makes another bust, profits rise for the remaining suppliers. These types of economic forces are insurmountable for law enforcement, but make for very good business for dealers and cartels.

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