Drug Sellers

Drug sellers are a menace under prohibition, but a peaceful contributor to the economy under legalization.

Drug Sellers Under Prohibition

Prohibition provides a major source of income for organized crime. Under prohibition, drug sellers most likely to succeed are those who can evade police best and who are most ruthless dealing with competitors. This is natural territory for organized crime.

Prohibition concentrates drug industry profits. Contrary to popular belief, the drug industry as a whole is not highly profitable. Instead, profits are highly concentrated in the most successful sellers. Most drug sellers barely make enough -- and sometimes not enough -- to support their own habit. Sellers are constantly being ripped off or killed by other sellers, when they're not in jail. The drug industry is not kind to most sellers.

The minority of drug sellers who are successful, however, make spectacular profits. Their prominent and glamorous example encourages others to try to emulate them. At most risk are those with few legal alternatives, those who expect to make around the minimum wage, or be jobless. Prohibition, by concentrating drug industry profits, tempts many poor teenagers into a violent life.

Prohibition provides a source of funding for guerilla groups in hot spots worldwide, including the Golden Triangle of southeast Asia.

Drug Sellers Under Legalization

Under legalization, the drug industry becomes another part of the economy. Disputes between competitors are settled in court, not in the street. Organized crime loses its advantage -- and its funding. Profits are evened out by legal competition, so that drug dealing no longer presents a glamorous example to struggling youth.