Legal Pot Doesn’t Mean Law Enforcement Reprieve


Think legalizing marijuana will curtail the black market and police involvement with drug enforcement? Not so fast, according to an article in the Daily Beast by Carol McKinley:

Shayne Heap has been Sheriff of Elbert County, Colorado for 15 years, which is almost as long as long as pot has been legal in the state, starting with medical marijuana in 2000: “I have 45 deputies, but I could use 10-12 more just to work the marijuana cases.” He’s seen his calls go up 180 percent since legalization. “Pot has killed us from the very beginning.” Elbert County is a bedroom community of Denver where many people move to get away from it all. The median income is just over $82,000. …

[Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program,] doesn’t have much faith that the bill [to lower the number of plants individuals can grow] will curb organized crime. And he believes it comes too late for a generation of children who will pay the price for Colorado’s pot experiment. “In five to ten years from now, we’re gonna look back and say, ‘My God, what did we do?’”

Heavily regulating a market implicitly leaves blocks things that people will want to do.  The difference is that government is no longer enforcing a ban, but is enforcing a regulation, with the added incentive that the black market is a competitor to the government market.  (And that’s what the heavily regulated, highly taxed pot industry will be: a government market.)