New scare tactic: Legalizing marijuana increases heroin availability?


If you believe a report this week from the Washington Post, increasing the freedoms of marijuana users in the United States by legalizing limited amounts of pot is a huge reasons for the increasing heroin problem in this country.

Yes, limited production of legal pot in two U.S. states apparently has crushed the Mexican marijuana growers, who are now turning to a more profitable crop: opium poppies. Nevermind that America has slowly been developing a massive opiate problem (and subsequently creating this demand) due to the easy-access to prescription drugs like OxyContin and hydrocodone that have nothing to do with marijuana whatsoever.
The report focuses on growers in Sinola, Mexico, who say they have switched over as the wholesale price per-pound of pot went from $100 a kilogram to just $25.
“It’s not worth it anymore,” one “lifelong” pot grower allegedly told the paper. “I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.”
That very well could be attributed to domestic marijuana becoming easier to access in the United States. And that’s fine. It should take money away from the criminal organizations that are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths over the last decade. But saying it is responsible for the rise in heroin production is absurd. That has nothing to do with marijuana legalization in the states whatsoever, despite what the Post would have you believe.The demand has to be there for that heroin, and that’s the major problem being overlooked.
Using their own data, the heroin problem increased 79 percent between 2007 and 2012. Colorado and Washington didn’t legalize (very limited amounts) of cannabis possession and cultivation until November of 2012. Colorado’s law wasn’t approved until December and Washington’s law doesn’t allow home cultivation.
Yet magically, those two states were responsible for a large chunk of middle America becoming hooked on cheap pharmaceutical drugs? What caused the problem was the sudden crackdown on bad pharmacists and doctors and tightening the reigns on medicines that shouldn’t have ever been so widely available in the first place. That crackdown led to people seeking out a cheaper alternative, which they found in cheap, Mexican-produced smack.
The other aspect of this is that these cartels are starting to shift towards drugs that draw less attention and have higher rewards. Marijuana is bulky and doesn’t deliver the money that a stash of pure heroin 1/100th of the size would bring. Couple that with the demand for heroin, and — legalization of marijuana or not — these farmers would have been switching crops eventually. The article does touch on some of that, but that’s going to be overlooked by the knee-jerk prohibitionists who will no doubt trumpet this as ammunition against legalization.
But hey, that’s just our take. Read the entire Washington Post piece for yourself.