Raven’s Run 98

Here is the crux of the problem. When drugs – and it doesn’t matter if you are talking about cocaine, pot, or alcohol – become scarce and expensive, they are profitable to sell. Every junkie who feels the pinch when he buys, knows that he could make money if he were selling. It is a grass roots movement. Every junkie wants to sell, but that only works in an expanding market. Any student from Economics 101 knows that. Like a pyramid scheme or a chain letter, the result is middle management types recruiting new customers in the xerox room, mechanics selling baggies behind the garage, and sixth grade junkies selling to third grade wannabes.

More enforcement means higher prices. Higher prices mean more pressure on users. That pressure sends the users-turned-sellers looking for new customers.

More enforcement means more drug users. QED.

When his leave was over, Cabral resigned from the FBI and ran for the state senate. And lost. But he learned from the experience and four years later he won the seat he still occupies. His platform was moderate, but his hidden agenda was legalization. He introduced no drug legislation during his first term, but soon after his first reelection, he authored a bill to legalize marijuana in California. It failed, and he spent the rest of that term mending fences and explaining his position to anyone who would listen. He almost lost the next election. A month after, he introduced a second legalization bill.

Two decades later, his yearly legalization bills were a constant in California, like the swallows returning to Capistrano. They always failed, but every year a few more of his fellow Senators voted with him.

*       *       *

“Senator,” I said, “I follow your arguments. It doesn’t matter if I agree with them. What I don’t see is how you jumped from that to suspecting drugs in Raven’s luggage.”

“Look at it as a problem in economics, Ian. If enforcement increases drug use, it also increases drug profits. Up to a point. No enforcement means low prices. Perfect enforcement, if that were possible, would mean no sales. Somewhere in between is the optimum level of enforcement to maximize drug profits.”

“OK.”

“I set out to calculate that optimum level, and I found that we are right at that level now in California.  It is too close a match to be a coincidence.”

I shook my head at the implications. Ed said, “Gunn, the big dealers are calling the shots. And nothing scares them so much as the fear of legalization.”

I thought he was paranoid.

I was only half right. more tomorrow

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