John Doe

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.

Mary Taylor

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up everything you have.

The Fallacy of Legalizing Things to Fight Crime

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I have to chuckle whenever I hear an advocate for legalizing something that is currently illegal justify doing so by saying it will help fight crime. I’ve heard gambling advocates claim that legalizing gambling at the state level will reduce criminal activity. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard marijuana advocates say the same thing about pot legalization. It is a fallacy.

Legalizing currently illegal activities only brings an end to prosecuting those activities as crimes. But crime doesn’t stop. Criminals continue to do what they do because it I s what they do. The only way to put a real dent in crime is to be tough on enforcement and punishment. Make the consequences of crime so severe that they are not worth it, and you motivate criminals to find something else to do.

Burglarizing Dispensaries in Colorado

Fighting crime is one of the chief arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana. The only thing legalization does is eliminate production, distribution, and possession crimes. But it doesn’t stop crime. In fact, marijuana legalization has only introduced new opportunities to criminals. Just ask the owners of some 40 Colorado dispensaries victimized by a gang of crooks.

According to the High Times, Colorado law enforcement recently busted a gang of at least 23 individuals who got their jollies burglarizing marijuana dispensaries. They undoubtedly did it because there was money to be made. Would those same criminals go after black market operators willing to defend their businesses with violence? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Cannabis Is a Largely Cash Business

Sticking with the dispensary idea for now, consider the fact that nearly all dispensaries operate as a cash-only business. In fact, the entire cannabis industry is a largely cash business thanks to an inability among marijuana enterprises to access banking services.

According to the operators of the Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City, Utah, the cash-only nature of retail dispensaries puts these businesses at high risk. Criminals know that recreational marijuana dispensaries and medical cannabis pharmacies deal in large volumes of cash. So dispensaries and pharmacies become huge targets.

Don’t Forget the Black Market

Of course, let’s not forget the black market in all of this. While operations like Beehive Farmacy work hard to remain above board, there are black market operators who care nothing about state regulations. They operate illegal businesses that flout the law at every turn.

Look at California. It was one of three pioneering states that led the charge for marijuana legalization. California has arguably the largest legal marijuana market in the country. Yet California’s black market dwarfs anything legal operators can do in terms of both volume and profits. Ditto in New York. The fact that these two states have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana has had no effect on the black market. Criminal cannabis enterprises continue to thrive.

It’s Not Just Marijuana

I don’t mean to single out marijuana here. The truth is that similar scenarios exist elsewhere. Legalizing gambling hasn’t stopped illegal gambling. It also hasn’t stopped other crimes associated with it, including prostitution and illegal liquor production. This isn’t to say that marijuana and gambling should remain illegal. It is only to say that legalization is not a crime fighting tool. Let’s stop pretending it is.

Criminals do what they do because they gain from their activities. Make one thing legal and they will just move on to something else. By their nature, criminals don’t care about the law. They don’t care what is legal or illegal. They only care about getting what they want, regardless of the implications of doing so.

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