I support the underground market


Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a Colorado-based task force that targets drug trafficking, also takes a negative view. He says that since legalization, he’s seen an increase in hospitalizations related to marijuana, in fatalities in which marijuana comes back on the toxicology report, and in the instances of marijuana being taken out of Colorado to other states…

What kind of increases are we talking about, Mr. Gorman?  You know, percentage wise.  And as these marijuana “incidents” have allegedly increased, what has decreased?  Could it be the suicide rate?  Especially among men?  What about the number of drug overdoses?  And the number of people in jail for bud?  Hasn’t there also been a decrease in overall crime rates? What about incidents of domestic abuse?

Before legalization, did the state conduct a toxicology report on every single fatality?  Did it include marijuana?  And at what THC level does Colorado consider a driver to be impaired?  Is it less than, say, the percentage that the NFL uses to consider its players deserving of punishment? Could it be that when cannabis shows up in a toxicology report for a fatality, it is never the ONLY drug in that report?

A survey of 100 Colorado school resource officers in June indicated that 89 percent had seen an increase in student marijuana-related incidents since recreational marijuana was legalized…

Well, surveys are fun, but let’s discuss these “marijuana-related incidents,” shall we?  Was anybody hurt during these incidents?  Did these incidents include any violence?  Were these incidents about experimentation or were they about abuse?

What would have happened to these students involved in marijuana-related incidents if this drug were still illegal in Colorado?  Would they be in jail now?  Or are they forced into rehab?  If those are the only two choices for a teenager that smokes pot, that’s a sad place to be.

“Preliminarily, it doesn’t look positive,” says Mr. Gorman…

Poor Mr. Gorman.  There isn’t anything about legalization that he finds positive.  I mean, I could think of dozens of positives, not only about legalization, but for all the medicinal purposes of this plant.  Maybe Mr. Gorman should talk to pain patients, huh?

One theory behind legalization is that it would reduce – or even all but eliminate – the black market. There’s some evidence in Colorado that the black market is dwindling, but it’s been more of a problem in Washington, where supply was initially limited, taxes are high, and the legal price has been considerably higher than the black market price.

“That’s a crucial lesson for other places: You can’t have it both ways. There has to be relatively easy access to avoid a black market,” says Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard lecturer and director of economic studies at the libertarian Cato Institute who has studied legalization in Colorado and Washington.

And now we come to the real problem.  First, someone tell the Christian Science Monitor that it can use the word “underground” instead of “black” to describe this market, so they don’t sound, I dunno, a little racist.  I know, being politically correct is a pain in the ass, but white people should try, just the same.  Just think if you were a black person reading about the “black” market… I mean, is there a “white” market?  (Technically, there is a “white” market for drugs — it’s called doctors, pharmacists, and insurance companies.)

You can’t expect to get rid of underground markets unless and until every person in every state has the same access to marijuana, including quality and price. And when is that supposed to happen?

The United States, overall, is experiencing a sea change in how it sees marijuana, and many observers see federal legalization as likely 10 or 15 years down the road…

The longer it takes for federal legalization, the bigger the underground market will grow. Without this underground market for marijuana, the DEA’s job would be a lot harder.  Harder because drug dealers usually sell more than just weed, and the entrance that bud gives the DEA into these different markets won’t be found with other drugs.  Harder because different drug markets present different enforcement challenges, and it’s a lot harder to bust a heroin dealer than someone selling bud.

But here’s the difference between today’s underground market for cannabis and what was found in the past:  Now it’s mostly bud that was grown here, in America.  When the DEA goes after the “underground” market for marijuana, the agency is busting Americans, not Mexican drug cartels.

Sure, the underground market includes a lot of hustlers, but it also includes a helluva lot of people who are just treating their illnesses the best way they can.  When you don’t have insurance and access to health care, you create millions and millions of people who don’t have access to medical treatments, like prescription drugs.  And this forces so many people to enter the underground drug market, seeking relief from whatever ails them.

There are some “experts” who claim fear about a market in which prices will become so low, more people will use and abuse marijuana.  So, let me ask the question… Is that the worst that could happen?  Because consuming cannabis will never be as bad as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, so this argument lacks a clear, negative, potential outcome.

No one should expect a consumer of cannabis to pay more than the price found in the underground market, especially patients who are using this drug to treat illness and pain.  That’s just cruel.  Cannabis is not covered by insurance, so all this money is coming directly out of patient’s pockets.

My experiences have clearly shown that the underground price for bud is much less than the price through legal dispensaries, at least here in New Mexico.  As long as patients have to choose between food and medicine, the underground market will continue to thrive.  And knowing how hard it is for pain patients in this country to find adequate treatment and medicine, I support the underground market.

For parents with children who suffer from epilepsy, living in states like Texas and frightened of child protection agencies, I support underground markets.  For teenagers who suffer from suicidal tendencies but are afraid to tell anyone (and don’t want to drink alcohol to self-medicate), I support underground cannabis markets.  For single mothers who have been raped but can’t afford to see a doctor for their PTSD, I support underground markets. For veterans who live in Louisiana and Mississippi, I support underground markets.  For every pain patient who chooses medical cannabis but can’t afford the legal price, I support the underground market.

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