by Patrick Appel
DiA pulls tells pot smokers to stop toking up to help end the drug war in Mexico:
I'm not a smoker, but this isn't a very convincing argument. I'm with this Economist reader:
Economics is as much the study of incentives as scarcity. Why propose a solution that comes with no incentive (except the avoidance of moral guilt -- because that works so well)? We know a voluntary relinquishing of bongs will not be forthcoming, and most reasonable people have already happened upon a straight-forward, if not perfect, solution: legalization.
I tried to find how much American marijuana comes from Mexico and came up empty. Here are the most recent statistics on international pot production I could find (If anyone has better numbers, e-mail and I'll update the post):
Worldwide production for 2006, the latest year for which figures are available, was around 41,400 metric tons, said the U.N.'s World Drug Report 2008. A metric ton equals 2,205 pounds. Mexico produced 7,400 metric tons, while the United States cultivated 4,700 metric tons, the U.N. report said.
We grow an awful lot of pot ourselves, so I'm not convinced that the "odds are you are helping to finance a particularly vicious and rapacious industry." DrugScience.org rounds up the data on annual marijuana consumption in America:
If the 14,000 metric tons number is correct, then most pot smoked in America does come from abroad, but that doesn't prove that over half of our marijuana comes from Mexico. Almost 100 percent of their crop would have to come here for that to be true.