Why does the US pursue its “war on drugs” and a strict policy of prohibition? Is it a moral decision to limit the damage that powerful intoxicants do to the lives of American people? Concern over public safety? Worry that it will make ObamaCare even more expensive? Not exactly, according to an interview given by Hillary Clinton during a television interview in Mexico, as Reason TV noticed:
Recently, during an interview with Mexico’s Televisa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the United States can’t legalize drugs “because there is just too much money in it.”
Apparently, Clinton doesn’t understand that there’s so much money to be made selling illegal drugs precisely because drugs are illegal.
Reason.tv uses Clinton’s love of pant suits and Chardonnay to explain the economics of prohibition to the former presidential candidate.
There may be good reasons to pursue a “war” on drugs, but being afraid of the money a legal drug market might generate isn’t one of them. As the clip suggests, the audience of the Mexican interview must have been mightily confused by her answer, because the big money is already being made by violent cartels that threaten to turn Mexico into a failed state. That comes from not just the fact that prohibition tends to create environments where the most ruthless and violent people control production and distribution, but also from the fact that prohibition hasn’t done much to quench American demand for the product.
Unlike Reason, I do believe that the prohibition on most drugs makes sense, especially opiates, meth, cocaine, and other “hard” drugs dangerous to both consume and produce. I find the case for marijuana prohibition much less compelling, as I’ve occasionally written, given its relative toxicity and intoxicating power to alcohol, which causes a handful of cases of death through overdose each year. However, making the case for legalizing marijuana by arguing that it will unlock an economic powerhouse as some did in California may be a little silly, but not as much as attempting to make the case for prohibition through fear of an economic powerhouse being unleashed. In the latter case, we’d at least take the economics away from the ruthless, violent predators who sit at the top of the current market.