Despite Legalization, Drug Dealers Continue to Do Business and Kill in Colorado

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


A woman holds a sign at a pro-marijuana rally at the University of Colorado in Boulder

Unsurprisingly, legalizing drugs doesn’t actually work. It leads to an increase in tax revenue which is more than offset by the expenses created by its users. And the illegal drug market keeps rolling right along.

A 25-year-old is shot dead trying to sell marijuana the old-fashioned, illegal way. Two men from Texas set up a warehouse to grow more than they would ever need. And three people buying pot in a grocery store parking lot are robbed at gunpoint.

Arapahoe County, outside Denver, has seen “a growing number of drug rips and outright burglaries and robberies of people who have large amounts of marijuana or cash on them,” said District Attorney George Brauchler.

“It has done nothing more than enhance the opportunity for the black market,” said Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs police vice and narcotics unit. “If you can get it tax-free on the corner, you’re going to get it on the corner.”

His district has seen at least three homicides linked to pot in recent months and a rising number of robberies and home invasions.

Among them was a February case in which a 17-year-old boy said he accidentally shot and killed his girlfriend while robbing a man who had come to buy weed.

Elsewhere, prosecutors say, Nathaniel Tallman, 25, was killed during a January drug deal when he was robbed and shot, and his body dumped in Wyoming.

And Colorado’s drug market is now becoming a regional problem.

If some Colorado drug dealers have lost business to legal retailers, some also have made up for it by transporting weed to other states.

A Lakewood man was arrested in March after postal inspectors intercepted a package he was mailing containing a pound of pot. Drug task force officers who later searched his home found scores of gallon-sized bags of marijuana and 76 plants.

But don’t worry, this is just a temporary transition period, said every ideologue ever.

Pot advocates say the state is in a transition period, and while pot-related crimes will continue, they will begin to decline as more stores open and prices of legal marijuana decline.

“It’s just a transition period,” activist Brian Vicente said. “Marijuana was illegal for the last 80 years in our state, and there are some remnants of that still around. Certainly, much like alcohol, over time these underground dealers will fade away.”

Sure, sure. Just give it a few years and everything will be fine. It’s just ‘remnants’ of the old way.

The USSR kept saying that right before it fell. Ideologues always assume that people will behave in line with their ideology and contrary to human nature.

And people always go on behaving according to human nature instead.

Meanwhile the pot advocates will say that if the state stops taxing pot, then the drug dealers will go away, even though their whole legalization argument rested on tax revenue.

And then when that doesn’t work, they’ll call for penalizing organizations that claim drug abuse is wrong.

  • A Z

    So why did we legalize drugs?

    The Chinese were forced by the British to legalize opium after the two Opium Wars. After 2 or 3 generation British opinion was decidedly against drugs and so it was outlawed. The Chinese court and diplomats saw British public opinion and used it to get the British government to see importation into China of Opium over a 10 year period starting in 1906.

    “Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China”
    by Jung Chang

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Opium_War
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Dowager_Cixi

    • UCSPanther

      Opium addiction nearly destroyed China at that time, which led to the Chinese monarchy outlawing it initially. The reason the British were able to invade China so easily during the Opium wars was due to the fact that the Chinese military of the time was chock full of junkies who were unable/unwilling to put up an effective fight.

      I consider the Chinese Opium Saga to be a shameful chapter in British history, and one with a bitter lesson of how dangerous substance abuse is to a nation’s well-being/strength, and how it can be an effective weapon for conquest.

      • A Z

        I do not know how many junkies there were in the Chinese military at that time. But I will be looking for reference for it now.

        I’ll put it down to superior tech, superior drill, belief in the forces elan, etc

        It was a shameful episode and lots of countries have those.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “It has done nothing more than enhance the opportunity for the black market,” said Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs police vice and narcotics unit. “If you can get it tax-free on the corner, you’re going to get it on the corner.”

    I’m sure I explained this to the idiots quite some time ago.

    • A Z

      The libertarian side of me wants to go for “harm reduction” strategies & try to take the profit out of drug smuggling. For the latter I look at experience of Prohibition in the U.S.

      But I can never quite get there and stay there as I know the history of the Opium Wars and of modern day cigarette smuggling.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        Complicated problems requires comprehensive solutions that are tested each step and forced to adjust to the realities of what effect the program has along the way. They are very difficult to manage, especially from the top down. Politicians don’t ruin everything, it just seems that way because the real percentage is so high.

  • Charlie B

    That’s why beer gangs are constantly shooting it out more than 80 years after Prohibition was repealed…Oh, wait…

    • UCSPanther

      They just switched to other illegal activities….

      …like drugs.

    • alericKong

      Sure, no one’s murdered in a bar anymore.

      • Boots

        I’d love to see if it’s possible to figure out how many of the barroom deaths are beer/alcohol related and how many are drug deal related and how many are domestic violence. Bars are a pretty common drug trade venue so I’d like to know if the bar/alcohol is the problem in bar deaths or other factors such as other illegal activity. Hell’s Angels are a good example of bar patrons involved in the illegal drug trade and frequent bars.

        • alericKong

          You think illegal drugs create criminals. I think criminals seek out illegal drugs as well as other awful acts because they could care less about society and other people.

          We have plans which work. Giuliani cleaned up New York by forcing police to do their jobs and getting rid of corruption in city government.

          • Boots

            Giuliani used the broken windows strategy and it worked because of the holistic approach of ignoring nothing… which included minor drug offenses and petty crime. He also held the neighborhoods accountable to work with NYPD… which most citizens were happy with. As far as illegal drugs causing the crime… depends on which peer reviewed studies you believe. To me the studies suggest a study with an agenda can get the result they want. You can conduct your own non scientific study by going to the neighborhoods with open illegal drug use and then get back to me and tell how save you feel… if you make it out.

  • truebearing

    And this is why libertarians can believe whatever they want to, but will never be able to actually govern. On both ends of the political spectrum, Marxism and Libertarianism, political/economic ideologies, devoid of true morality, insist that utopia is just around the corner if only everyone would just see the light. Legalize drugs and all will be well. Nonsense, and now reality is once again flogging ideology, but the real dogmatists will never admit it.

    Not only is there an incentive for the user to buy cheaper dope, there is a bigger incentive for the illegal trafficker to avoid INCOME TAX. Looks like a real loser to me, but then, when did the potheads ever listen to reason?

    Before some synaptically challenged weed lover begins ranting at me about how safe it is, I know all about it. I have smoked plenty of it in the past. I have read both sides of the argument, and haven’t ignored the growing medical evidence, or traffic fatality statistics. I don’t recall it making me a safer driver, smarter student, or better at anything other than wasting time, and I was already gifted at that.

  • wileyvet

    Let me smoke weed, the pot head pleads. Tune in, Turn on, Drop out, Man. Hey, dude , you’re killing my buzz. Go ahead and Puff the Magic Dragon you little ninny and then take a shower before you begin to smell like Janice Joplin.

  • UCSPanther

    This will get the potheads all riled up. They don’t like it when anyone so much as says anything against their “substance”.

  • Ben Cohen

    “It leads to an increase in tax revenue which is more than offset by the expenses created by its users.”

    1) Can you provide any evidence that legalizing marijuana costs more than keeping it illegal, actual numbers would be useful.

    2) Even if you could prove that marijuana legalization was more expensive, would you accept that as the basis for policy? Are we going to decide what activities people can engage in based strictly on the impact those activities have on the government’s budget? Personally, I’ll support freedom even if it isn’t revenue neutral.