In an interview with Denise Maerker of Televisa, during her February trip to Mexico, Hillary Clinton explained why drugs couldn’t be legalized: “I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate…. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.”
At first glance, you might think this is just economic illiteracy. After all, it’s just common sense that the reason there’s “so much money” in drugs is BECAUSE they’re illegal. They fetch a black market price. If pot was legal and sold for the same per ounce as oregano, you think there’d be Mexican gangs fighting to control the border trafficking in it? The best way to “stop” the people “who are making so much money selling” is to make the stuff cheap and legally available.
It stands to reason that the biggest foes of legalization — even more than the drug cops — are the folks in organized crime who make money off the drug trade. I vaguely recall an anecdote about a “dry county” election somewhere in the deep south; the local bootlegger’s car was plastered with bumper stickers reading “For the sake of my family, keep X County dry.”
But on closer examination, I suspect Clinton’s remark was a Freudian slip. She wasn’t guilty so much of exposing her ignorance as of inadvertently giving the uninitiated a brief glimpse of the truth. The truth is that the government won’t legalize drugs is that there’s too much money — for them and their allies — in keeping them illegal.
It’s basic economics that creating a black market in any criminalized substance will, in turn, create organized crime networks that profit from trafficking in controlled substances. Prohibition resulted in the explosive growth of organized crime in America.