The recent slayings in Pike County, Ohio of eight people sent shockwaves through the local community and the nation as a whole. As of yet no suspects have been caught and no motive is known for sure.
As you can imagine, there is much speculation. That speculation was ignited last week went it was revealed that some 200 cannabis plants had been found on the property where the killings happened. The harshness and sheer violence and magnitude of the killings – when combined with the marijuana plants and the area’s history of cartel activity – points to, for some, Mexican cartel involvement. If this turns out to be the case, it may be important to know how specific government policies have led to cartel activity in the U.S.
The chain of events comes down to basic economics: the prohibition of marijuana artificially raises its price on the market, in this case, the black market. Artificially high prices bring artificially high profits; this draws investment from those seeking higher profits and since the market is illegal, these investors don’t have to abide by rules or etiquette when it comes to killing or not killing each other. More profits mean more violence and a search for ways to produce more of the product; in this case, cannabis.
By growing cannabis in the U.S. Mexican cartels can cut down on transportation costs and eliminate border troubles when it comes to getting their product into its biggest market, the United States. Hence, heavy cartel involvement in growing operations in the U.S.
As I said, this is all speculation, but it shows us something important about the nature of cannabis prohibition: it spawns a massive amount of ancillary criminal activity and violence. The black market is supported by violence and the most violent often end up as the most well-rewarded; this, of course, is an incentive for even more violence.
And on it goes as long as prohibition continues.