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January 12, 2007

Market Mysteries

A recent study provided evidence that pot is now America’s largest cash crop. Although the econometrics of illegal markets are elusive, the thirty-five billion dollar estimate by Jon Gettman seems to be in the ballpark; especially given our rather steady three quarters of a million felony pot busts per year and the increasing number of  plants being grown by aliens on federal land in California as a way of avoiding seizures at the border.  Not that cross-border smuggling is a thing of the past, as illustrated by repeated discovery of high-volume tunnels at odd intervals.

Not to mention Canada...

My interviews of cannabis applicants have raised several related, but seldom–asked, questions as mysteries of the type referred to in a recent entry. For example:  why was there a three decade delay between pot becoming illegal in 1937 and the initiation of a of a thriving black market? Another: how did that market grow? A third is to what extent does current adult usage reflect the pervasive pattern of adolescent initiations faithfully recorded by annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) surveys since 1975?

In essence, database analysis of the demographics and drug initiation data provided by interviews of the applicant population conducted since November 2001 provide answers to those questions which are not only very consistent with known events, but also cast considerable doubt on certain key assumptions about drug use which have become widely shared by nearly all interested observers.

Many of the scientific breakthroughs of the last two hundred years, were the result of new observations which challenged old beliefs. In the case of drug using behavior by humans, that dearth of accurate observations was not a result of technical inadequacy, but rather of a federal embargo on clinical research which was effectively imposed and held in place by the policy itself.

Hopefully, some day soon, the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 will come to be seen as the first step in repudiating a thoroughly unscientific substance prohibition that had been permitted to masquerade as responsible public policy throughout most of the 20th Century.

Until that happens, our future as a democratic nation will remain in considerable doubt.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 12, 2007 03:50 PM