Is the drug trade truly violent?

Before I get started, let me say this: A LOT OF DRUGS OUT THERE (including legally prescribed pharmaceuticals) ARE A BAD, BAD, BAD IDEA AND YOU SHOULDN’T USE THEM, TRY THEM, OR OTHERWISE GET INVOLVED WITH THEM. (See: Heroin, Cocaine, Crack).  Many drugs are bad, mmmmmkay, kids?

That aside, I’ll go on…

Yesterday I had lunch with one of my colleagues.  He’s a younger, very logical, well reasoned guy.  His father is a State Trooper.  That is to say, he’s probably grown up with the idea that the state (that is, a general term for Government) and maybe even the drug war are good things.  Along the way, we got talking about crimes and how I believe the only true crimes are crimes that involve a victim (crimes against person or property).  This lead into a talk about the drug trade.

One argument he brought up in support of Federal and State prohibition policies was: well, the drug trade is inherently violent and that’s why we need to keep prohibition.  Then I asked him: Why is the drug trade violent?

Let me ask you, the reader, the same question: Why is the drug trade violent?

Some might say because drugs makes people violent or people with an addiction need to do violent things to maintain their habit. My counters:

  1. If the free market was allowed to regulate the price of drugs, they would be much, much, much less expensive.  It’s prohibition and the black market that make the cost so high.  People who want to use them could more readily afford them and might be less likely to turn to stealing to pay for their supply.
  2. I carry a gun, if I encounter a person on the street or someone who breaks into my home who is violent towards me or someone I love, I have a solution for that problem.

Going on, I’ll provide you the answer I gave my colleague:

It’s violent because it’s illegal.  Let’s say I am a distributor of oats.  You (the reader) are one of my retailers.  As many distributors do for their clients/retailers, I front you some oats on an credit (AKA an account receivable).  We agree you will pay me in 45 days, which is when you expect to have the product sold (or at least enough of it sold that you can pay me back).  45 days come and go and no money shows up.  What do I (the distributor) do?  I file an action in court for breach of contract or begin other lawful dunning/collection procedures against you.  Eventually, I get my money (even if not all of it).  Likewise, If I am a consumer and you are a retailer that doesn’t deliver my product after I have made payment for it, I can sue you.

Now, let’s pretend we’re not talking about oats anymore.  We’re talking about cocaine.  How does the above paragraph change?  Let’s see…I can’t sue you because:

  1. We’ll both get investigated by the state for drug trafficking.
  2. Even if we don’t get criminally investigated, my case will get thrown out because the subject matter is illegal (Remember the 4 parts of a contract? Mutual Assent, Capacity, Consideration, and Legality?)

So what’s an otherwise perhaps reputable drug businessman to do to get his money back? He’s gonna bust some caps!

If I’m a drug consumer and I take delivery face to face, what am I to do if the seller presents a gun instead of the product? Call the cops?  Yeah right…see #1 above.


After listening to this explanation, my colleague agreed that it is quite probable the drug trade is violent solely (or at least mostly) because it is an illegal/black market.  Want an example of a drug trade/black market operation that involved zero violence (well, at least until the Government stepped in)? I’ll tell you about it, but let’s talk about the Silk Road another day…

What does this have to do with Michigan?  How much money would the State save if it wasn’t one of the Federal Government’s partners in the drug war?  How many people that are presently “guests” of the Department of Corrections are there solely because of drug crimes or violence related to the drug trade?  Maybe I’ll answer those questions another day…

You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(9)

  9 comments for “Is the drug trade truly violent?

  1. October 10, 2014 at 7:44 am

    At another time in my life Phillip, I might have agreed with you.

    Given the wretched effects:

    • Long and short term memory lapses
    • Loss of inhibitions which lead to voting 'liberal'
    • Mental health issues and health care costs that are also tied to socialized medicine and government overreach

    I would have to say there is a strong case for continuing the fight on mind altering substances being easily accessible.

    This is one of those Russell Kirk moments.

    “In any society, order is the first need of all. Liberty and justice may be established only after order is tolerably secure. But the libertarians give primacy to an abstract liberty. Conservatives, knowing that "liberty inheres in some sensible object," are aware that true freedom can be found only within the framework of a social order, such as the constitutional order of these United States. In exalting an absolute and indefinable "liberty" at the expense of order, the libertarians imperil the very freedoms they praise.”

    ― Russell Kirk

    You Betcha! (7)Nuh Uh.(0)
    • Phillip Hofmeister
      October 10, 2014 at 8:09 am

      1. If there are negative impacts to a given drug, the user should bear complete responsibility for his actions.
      2. Maybe granting the majority the ability to rule over the minority by force is the problem?
      3. The government shouldn't be in medicine, we both agree with that. Are you going to use one Government over-reach to justify another? If you use that reasoning, we should not roll back ANY government unless we can get rid of ALL of it at the same time.

      A question back at you: where does the Federal Constitution (barring the repealed 18th amendment) give the Federal Government the power to control or regulate any drug?

      You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(0)
      • October 10, 2014 at 8:36 am

        1. If only that were possible. Complete responsibility does not come automatically with ability to 'make right' the harm done to others. Especially when one has so decimated his or her life to the point of non productivity.
        2. Only to the extent that covers those areas where the minority can have effect on others. Again I refer to Kirk's point that 'ordered liberty' (rule of law) is appropriate. I KNOW you do not want anarchy.
        3. All together at same time? No. Let the welfare system collapse on itself first. Let the Churches and private civic organizations pick up charitable services once again. Let people once again OWN their own medical and life choices. But once all this has happened, don't think that a free-for-all drug culture becomes a part of a moral place either. We need to have standards, and the reality that libertarians don't get with the drug argument, is that general welfare is a set of those standards that is equal in application and serves the public good.

        We are a nation of laws; a Republic. I am not for chasing down folks in a police state environment on their personal choices, but when those choice reach out and affect others, we cannot close our eyes to it. Perhaps the way in which we deal with it is not perfect begets violence as your article implies, but doesn't the use of such things bear SOME of the responsibility?

        As I said, "At another time in my life Phillip, I might have agreed with you." But observation and study and contemplation has revealed what once seemed to be so simple an argument, is not so much any longer.

        You Betcha! (6)Nuh Uh.(0)
        • Phillip Hofmeister
          October 10, 2014 at 9:41 am

          I think we have strayed from the original question: Why is the drug trade violent?

          Do you agree with my analysis on that point at least?

          You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(0)
  2. Corinthian Scales
    October 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Like déjà vu all over again @4:36...

    You Betcha! (7)Nuh Uh.(0)
    • October 10, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Rock solid video worth watching all the way through.

      You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(0)
      • Phillip Hofmeister
        October 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

        What's to stop people from getting other people to pay for their stuff now? The constitution? *laughs*

        As far as: think of the children, I agree. People should not use drugs that will drastically alter their consciousness while they are caring for their children. What's to stop them right now from getting drunk off their ass?

        Everyone can buy booze. Does everyone get drunk off their ass while caring for their kids? No!
        What stops them? Being a responsible parent. Did you AND your wife (at the same time) drink so much you couldn't walk straight when your son was 18 months old AND under your direct and only supervision, Jason? Why not? Why would any other drug be any different?

        Oh -- drugs are addictive. Yes, and Alcohol is amongst the most addictive.

        You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(0)
        • Corinthian Scales
          October 10, 2014 at 10:10 am

          Mr. Hofmeister, I really appreciate what you contribute here. I truly do. However, this topic has reached its apogee long ago around here and, unfortunately, others views have fallen on deaf ears within the Libertarian-minded folks. Please, I offer a word of advice... you're beginning to sound a lot like this guy. That's bad juju.

          You Betcha! (6)Nuh Uh.(0)

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