Pubdate: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 Date: 08/27/1998 Source: The Examiner (Ireland) Author: Hugh Robertson IS prohibition the best way of preventing the use of marketable goods such as cannabis, heroin or eggs? Eggs were one of a number of marketable goods rationed during the Second World War. Rationing is merely the prohibition of certain goods above a set quantity. Rationing led to a black market and cause otherwise law-abiding citizens to become criminals. It also led to corruption, with authority figures turning a blind eye in return for an extra slice or two of bacon or a pair of nylon stockings. The United States of America prohibited alcohol for a decade earlier this century. Once again, a black market sprang up and flourished. Again, many otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals, and again there was widespread corruption. The prohibition of a marketable commodity automatically causes a black market. These goods, unlike other illegal activities such as murder, are subject to the laws of economics. Given demand, the result of restricting supply of a commodity is that the value of it is enhanced. Because its unit price is raised in proportion to the reduction in supply, the more effort law enforcement makes in reducing supply, the more profit goes to the black marketers. The wealth, power and influence of organised crime are directly increased by prohibition. Prohibition actually serves the criminal by making the trafficking in common goods so profitable that it is inevitable. To be a viable, long-term venture, trafficking depends on the corruption of state employees. This corruption has reached the upper levels of governments precisely because of the enormous profitability of black market alcohol, heroin and cocaine. Relegalisation would eliminate the inflated profits of these marketable goods and destroy the money-making motives of black marketers. It took the American government a little over ten years to see what a mistake they had made with alcohol prohibition. It is taking them, and the governments of Britain and Ireland even longer to realise that they are making the same mistake again. Hugh Robertson Barrack Street Perth, Scotland PH1 5RE.