Many libertarians were upset with Rand Paul for voting to confirm Jeff Sessions because the Attorney General has an enormous amount of leeway when it comes to waging the War on Drugs. Paul was content knowing that Sessions wouldn’t use drones to target American citizens, and voted to confirm knowing that Trump’s second choice could be worse on that issue. Although, there are few alternatives who could be worse on marijuana prohibition. Jeff Sessions is a notorious drug warrior bent on continuing the failed policies of the past four decades. Sadly, the drug problems Jeff Sessions complains about are directly caused by prohibition.
Politicians are notoriously unaware of the unintended consequences of their policies but Jeff Sessions’ ignorance on prohibition takes the cake. He recently said that “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved”. Let’s stop and take a few seconds, just a few, to imagine why that would be. Perhaps it’s a result of what Milton Friedman recognized decades ago: ““See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.”
Supply and demand dictate the price and availability of goods and services. When the government prohibits something that does not eliminate the demand, it only makes the supply more difficult to come by. Naturally, prices increase dramatically. Furthermore, now that the substance has been prohibited, business agreements can no longer be enforced peacefully in court. Therefore, once-honest entrepreneurs must resort to violence as a means of settling disputes. Both of Jeff Sessions concerns about marijuana are directly caused by its prohibition. These are economic facts that have been well-known for a century but somehow haven’t yet penetrated his thick skull.
There is no other conclusion than the one Milton Friedman came to years ago. The government literally protects the drug cartel’s ability to sell their products for high prices, which allows them to make billions tax-free, and forces them to solve their disputes with violence. Contrast that with what happens in states that have legalized marijuana. There is now a multi-billion dollar marijuana industry in several states creating tens of thousands of jobs and paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Every dollar spent on legal marijuana is one taken from the violent drug cartels. This directly impacts their bottom line in a way no government policy ever could.
It’s time that Jeff Sessions accepted these economic facts and formulated a responsible Federal drug policy that respects the 10th Amendment. If he continues to refuse to learn from the government’s mistakes he will be doomed to repeat them. Billions of tax-dollars will be wasted, countless lives will be ruined, and the drug cartels will make billions more in profit if the new Attorney General continues his course. Jeff Sessions can choose to be remembered for ending the war on marijuana, or he can choose to be forgotten as merely another bureaucrat who mindlessly continued the failed policies of the past.