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The basic problem here is that, like the drugs, there is a huge surplus and dealers are replaced as easily as a check out clerk in a super market. Too often it is teens who fill the position. 

Putting a dealer in prison creates two dealers, one in prison at our expense who will eventually get out, and the person[s] who replace that dealer. 

"... suppliers have an incentive to substitute youth for adults in the distribution chain. ... the unintended consequences of the rising enforcement are that more people are engaged in supplying a smaller amount of drugs and more juveniles have been lured into the drug trade." 


David W. Rasmussen : Professor of Economics and Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University. 

Bruce L. Benson: Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at Florida State University. (Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1978)


 Note: The reference to "a smaller amount of drugs" is due to the fact that to evade seizure, suppliers make the drugs purer and more compact and not due to lower consumption. This tendency for illegal drugs to become more potent - the reverse of our experience with legal drugs - has been called "The Iron Law of Prohibition."

"When you take a bank-robber off the streets you have one less bank-robber. When you take a drug dealer off the streets you have created a job opening." 

- Peter Christ, retired police captain after 20 years on the job, member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. [LEAP] 

 "There is only one thing wrong with drug law enforcement, just one - it doesn't work." 

- Volney Brown, a retired Federal Magistrate Judge who was previously the nation's leading drug prosecutor, locking up some 1,100 drug dealers in 18 months. Once, at massive taxpayer expense, he managed to lock up all of the 76 major drug dealers in Phoenix in one night and kept them in prison; within 8 days they had all been replaced.

For more on dealers, see Children

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