Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are Crack Laws Racist? Racial Bias in Cocaine Laws (1993)

The illegal drug trade is created by outlawing and restricting a good or service, therefore, the mandate and legislative authority of the DEA is the primary cause of illegal drug trading and its surrounding violence. The enforcement of federal drug policy removes every 'drug' scheduled for DEA enforcement from the protection of the open market infrastructure, where information and commerce mutually exchanged from consenting parties are free and protected by free information, contractual obligations, property rights, and disputes resolution are adjudicated under the rule of law. With the removal of the protection under the rule of law; this subjects the good in question into a marketplace of coercion. Mutual exchange is subject to property rights violations by coercion through monopoly of force. It is this type of legal environment, which is known as a black market, the underground nature of these marketplaces makes legal enforcement of disclosure requirements and contractual obligations impossible. With both secrecy and lack of legal contractual obligations, grievances are no longer recognized under the law. With no possibility for legal redress, the participants who wish to engage in commerce may only enforce contractual agreements directly.

The difficulty of direct enforcement in the black market creates a demand for an alternative arbitrator to handle disputes. An arbitrator's desirability is measured by its enforcement capability and legitimacy within the black market. This legitimacy is based on reputation and recognition. Thus, competing arbitrators in black markets attempt to gain reputability through organization. As competing arbitrators attempt to increase their reputation by expanding the territory over which they operate they often bribe or blackmail members of the legal and law enforcement systems in order to continue operation without legal harassment. Since these arbitrator organizations are not legally recognized, organizations materialize in the form of street gangs or organised crime. The DEA essentially cites the arbitrators' means of enforcement, which usually take the form of intimidation, violence and/or kidnapping, as the primary byproduct of the good being exchanged, justifying continued measures to hunt sellers and buyers. Despite criticism for forcing participants into black markets and driving the violence surrounding drug trade by targeting all buyers and sellers, the DEA's position is that the very transaction is the cause of violence, and has repeated on various occasions to have been successful at preventing violence and creating a safer marketplace.
In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs.[20] According to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the U.S. is as much as $64 billion a year,[21] giving the DEA an efficiency rate of less than 1% at intercepting the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. Critics of this theory (including recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, prior to his death a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) point out that demand for illegal drugs is inelastic; the people who are buying drugs will continue to buy them with little regard to price, often turning to crime to support expensive drug habits when the drug prices rise. One recent study showed that the price of cocaine and methamphetamine is the highest it has ever been while the quality of both is at its lowest point ever.[22] This is contrary to a collection of data done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which states that purity of street drugs has increased, while price has decreased.[23][24][25] In contrast to the statistics presented by the DEA, the United States Department of Justice released data in 2003 showing that purity of methamphetamine was on the rise.[26]

The DEA is also criticized for focusing on the operations from which it can seize the most money,[31] namely the organized cross-border trafficking of marijuana. Some individuals contemplating the nature of the DEA's charter advise that, based on danger, the DEA should be most focused on cocaine. Others suggest that, based on opiate popularity, the DEA should focus much more on prescription opiates used recreationally, which critics contend comes first before users switch to heroin.