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.