NYPD police commissioner William Bratton—whose broken-windows approach to policing culminated in the proud crime-fighting crusade to save New Yorkers from dancing children—has some thoughts on marijuana legalization. They are almost entirely wrong.
Speaking on the John Catsimatidis radio show The Cats Roundtable, Bratton said, according to Newsmax, that “most of the violence we see around drug trafficking involves marijuana, and I have to scratch my head as we are seeing many states wanting to legalize marijuana or a liberalization of policies.”
Ah yes, weed’s famous propensity for causing elaborate acts of violence. In fact, as Influence contributor Johann Hari and many others have noted, it’s the inherent instability of illegal markets that causes the vast majority of violence associated with drugs. Case in point, alcohol prohibition. As Hari explains:
The worst aspect of the war on drugs—I believe—is the violence caused by drug prohibition, in precisely the way that alcohol prohibition created Al Capone. When a substance is illegal, dealers are forced to resort to violence to protect their turf.
As I wrote here, imagine you run a liquor store. If someone steals a bottle of vodka and you catch them, you can call the police—so you don’t need to be violent, or intimidating. But if you’re selling cannabis or crack, and someone tries to rob you, you have to fight them—you have no recourse to the law. And you have to fight them in a way that will make sure nobody else tries to mess with you ever again. The War on Drugs, as Charles Bowden put it, creates a war for drugs—fought out with guns and blood.