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>The drug trade has built massive criminal enterprises which have built themselves infrastructure and organization and connections that can be used toward ends other than just shipping drugs. It keeps pouring money into these enterprises, and making things worse, but if we turn off (or down) that spigot we still have to deal with these organizations.

Actually, after the U.S. ended alcohol prohibition virtually all of the organizations devoted to booze either went legit or drastically shrank in size and scope. We would've been better off without alcohol prohibition in the first place, but ending it was certainly a net win.

If you're interested in the history and parallels of alcohol prohibition to today's drug prohibition, Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is pretty good: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Call-Rise-Fall-Prohibition/dp/074... .

I wholeheartedly agree that ending prohibition of drugs would be a net win here, as well. In fact, I said it was probably necessary. I just don't think we should overlook the fact that there's likely to still be issues to deal with. The history of prohibition, so far as I understand it, doesn't undermine these points in any significant way. Law enforcement still had to deal with organized crime, and the size, scope, and influence of the cartels seems larger than that of bootleggers on the whole (though I would welcome hard numbers in either direction).

It's not impossible that the problem would just poof go away, but it seems a poor choice to bet on it. Again, that doesn't mean that legalization isn't the place to start!

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