In what will likely be seen as something of a Freudian slip by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recently in a Mexican news interview that the United States cannot legalize drugs as a means of fighting the black market because "there is just too much money in it."
Asked by Denise Maerker of Televisa what she thought of drug legalization, Clinton said it was unlikely to work.
"There is just too much money in it," Clinton said. "You can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people."
The comments drew criticism from legalization advocates who argued her position was a misunderstanding of the situation.
"Clinton's response illustrates not only the intellectual bankruptcy of the prohibitionist position but the economic ignorance of a woman who would be president," Jacob Sullum argued at Reason.com.
Clinton evidently does not understand that there is so much money to be made by selling illegal drugs precisely because they are illegal. Prohibition not only enables traffickers to earn a "risk premium" that makes drug prices much higher than they would otherwise be; it delivers this highly lucrative business into the hands of criminals who, having no legal recourse, resolve disputes by spilling blood.
At the Drug War Chronicle, Scott Morgan called Clinton's argument "perfectly incoherent" and argued it flew in the face of economic theory.