It seems as though there is momentum building toward a day when marijuana use and sale will be legal. This is the libertarian's and the pothead's best dream come true, and I admit that I have often yearned for such a sensible policy decision. The war on drugs does untold damage -- not only is it completely ineffectual, it also causes crime, violence, and increases economic disparity. So legalizing it, I've often thought, is a good thing. Wrong.
Just imagine if you will that future day when pot is marketed and sold by the likes of Phillip-Morris, Pepsico, Wal-Mart and Monsanto. Just imagine what a sweet deal legalization could be for all these mega corporations, who will most likely simply make deals with the existing cartels in Mexico and Columbia, and then draw in incredible profit margins bringing the stuff into the US and selling it in mass quantities.
I'm not against marijuana use, both medicinal and recreational, but what I am against is our current global corporate economy. One the other hand, the current underground economy in which small growers grow and sell the stuff in informal networks is exactly the kind of economic model on which we should rebuild our whole economy. The only problem is this god-forsaken war on drugs, which introduces a whole slew of problems into the existing network (the fact that the underground network survives so well even with all these externally-imposed barriers is testament to how strong small local economic networks are.) The war imposes greatly increased startup costs and overhead, violence, mistrust, and, with all these, encourages consolidation.
So what we should be doing is not legalizing, but simply defunding the war on drugs. Just let the underground networks survive, leave them alone, and I predict we'll see the most efficient, safe, well-run sector of our economy in no time. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of hope that this will come to pass. As soon as we pass the threshold in which pot use becomes socially respectable enough to be legal, I predict that the corporations will once again see dollar signs in their eyes and pounce on it. And smother us all -- potheads or not.