The Prohibition Markup

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 4 2013 @ 8:05am

To illustrate it, Jochen-Martin Gutsch and Juan Moreno tracked cocaine through the illegal drug market:

Pure cocaine costs €1,300 a kilo in Putumayo [a major cultivation hub in Colombia], more than €4,000 at the Colombian border and, in nearby Jamaica, the price already approaches €6,000. The drug gets really expensive when it reaches Europe or the United States, where dealers make about €30,000 a kilo, depending on market conditions. The European drug user, who only receives cocaine in diluted (“cut”) form, doesn’t pay a fixed price. Coke is cheaper in Spain than in Germany, for example, and it’s cheaper in Berlin than in Munich. The going rate in Germany is about €100 for a gram of impure cocaine, while a kilo of pure cocaine can cost up to €400,000.

Meanwhile, The Economist checks in on waning enforcement efforts in Europe:

Spain’s approach now rivals that of the pioneering liberal Dutch. Though selling is illegal, buying is not. One result is hundreds of cannabis “social clubs”, which allow members to pool their purchases. These range from small co-operatives where new members must wait six months for new cannabis to be grown before joining, to huge semi-commercial organisations, with thousands of “members” buying cannabis. One in Barcelona even made a €1.3m ($1.74m) deal with the country town of Rasquera to grow supplies on local land, better known for its almond trees. Similar experiments are under way in France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, says Tom Blickman of the Transnational Institute, a think-tank based in Amsterdam. In much of Britain, especially its big cities, the risk of prosecution for those using small quantities of soft drugs is vanishingly low.