Hysterical alarmism about legal marijuana only helps the drug cartels AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

An intriguing new video from The Economist imagines how the world could change as the failed drug war continues to decline and drugs become increasingly decriminalized and/or legalized.

One of the most important points the clip’s panel of experts make is the effect of legalization on drug cartels, the brutal criminal gangs that — when drugs are illegal — are the only “businesses” willing to supply this very lucrative product (and kill and maim people in the process).

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When drugs are legal, the cartels lose out. They can’t compete with the price, variety, and safety legal dealers can provide. “If you look at the Sinaloa cartel,” says one speaker in the video, “they’re really suffering now, because, in the States, if you go to one of the places where they make the legal stuff, it is so much more sophisticated!”

He continues: “I mean, I went round [to a] chocolate factory in Colorado where they were making marijuana edibles, and it’s just extraordinary. It’s like a cross between Willy Wonka and Walter White, you know. And the Sinaloa cartel doesn’t do chocolate brownies, you know. They can’t compete.”

That simple economic truth means that those who engage in deceptive, hysterical alarmism about legal marijuana are actually doing these murderous criminals a huge favor.

Reason’s Jacob Sullom shared an infuriating story of exactly this sort of dangerous nonsense on Monday:

The strangers who supposedly were trying to get your kids high by passing out cannabis candy on Halloween apparently have moved online. Or so claims WANE, the CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The headline over the WANE story—which was reposted by WRIC, the ABC station in Richmond, Virginia—warns that “dealers [are] using THC-laced ‘edibles’ to attract young people.” Reporter Angelica Robinson claims “marijuana dealers are targeting young people,” that “much of it is done online,” and that “buyers order the candies online and use them to get high discreetly.” Jerri Lerch of the Allen County Drug and Alcohol Consortium tells Robinson that drug dealers “tweet targeted young people about the availability of attractive marijuana products.” But neither Lerch nor Robinson presents any evidence of such online commerce in cannabis candies for kids. […]

Robinson compounds the deception with some bizarre scaremongering about marijuana edibles. “The small suckers could pack a big punch,” she says. “Typically, edibles can contain anywhere between 70 and 100 percent of THC. Marijuana has just 17 to 30 percent.”

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As Sullum dryly notes, “These numbers are nonsensical.” The edibles the story referenced were lollipops made by a medical marijuana company, and a “lollipop that was 100 percent THC would not be a lollipop; it would be pure THC.”

It can’t be candy and 100 percent THC at once. That is not how math works. Also, the lollipops in question are not 70 percent THC but a much, much, much less scary 0.4 percent THC.

Yes, less than 1 percent. The other 99.6 percent is just candy.

Dishonest reporting like this may be intended to keep children away from drugs, a noble goal. But in practice, it foments unfounded worry about ending the drug war, thus indirectly facilitating the butchery of the drug cartels.

No one of good conscience wants to see kids on drugs, but this dangerous alarmism has got to go.

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