How the Eighties’ pot crackdown led to cheap crack cocaine

Boycott Bolivian! Make sure you get your cocaine elsewhere!

Ryan Grim, Author of This is Your Country on Drugs, a tome I recommend heartily, interviewed our founder, Keith Stroup, for a piece in Huffington Post about legendary 1980′s crack kingpin Rick Ross, who “would have rather sold pot”.

One [effect of President Carter’s “Operation Condor” interdiction campaign in Mexico], a rise in the price of pot in the United States, was intended. Others weren’t. The growth of domestic marijuana farming might have eased pot shortages slightly during the ’70s, but the industry was hardly the high-tech, high-efficiency bud-producing machine it is today. The encouragement of a shift from pot to cocaine importation among drug smugglers was a much more significant development in the short term. Coke, more valuable by weight and with a less detectable odor, was more profitable and much easier to move.

“Without question, in the mid- to late-’70s, there were frequently months where even working at NORML we would have a drought,” Keith Stroup, the head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told HuffPost. “But there was never a shortage of cocaine, because it didn’t have anything to do with a growing season … Sometimes I’d go [to my dealer], and he didn’t have any marijuana, but he always had cocaine.”

It has long been my contention that the decline in what was rising support for marijuana legalization in the 1970s owes a lot to the rise of cocaine culture, circa 1977-1983.  HIGH TIMES had centerfolds of beautiful buds and lines of cocaine on mirrors.  Chevy Chase was starring in Modern Problems where the whole movie is a cocaine gag.  Kids were sneaking in (I was one of them) to see the cartoon movie Heavy Metal where the characters are snorting “plutonium nyborg”.  ”Drugs” went from Woodstock and the Grateful Dead to Scarface and Miami Vice, and since marijuana’s a drug, it got tarred with the excesses and tragedies of cocaine.

Sadly ironic, then, that the government’s efforts to eradicate pot led to higher prices, which led to cocaine culture, which led to anti-drug acts of the 1980′s that still lock up cannabis consumers… and we’re still stuck with the higher prices!

View full post on The NORML Stash Blog