This LA Gang Member Knows Why the Drug War Doesn’t Work
Ozy, an online magazine that takes pride in presenting original content crafted by contributors with unique perspectives, has recently published an article allegedly written by “Loko,” a Bloods gang member from Los Angeles, California. In the piece, Loko talks about his life in the City of Angels, how changes to marijuana laws are reshaping local communities, and how other drug restrictions are ruining an entire generation of African Americans.
It’s hard to read his rendition of the current situation without thinking about how countless lives could have been saved if current and past government administrations hadn’t embraced the war on drugs.
Methamphetamine, Loko explains, is what all of the “homeboys are using. … Blood, Crip, it doesn’t matter.” Meth is such a problem in LA that everyone “is going crazy.” But what makes it an issue isn’t that locals have easy access to the substance. The problem is that meth is illegal. That makes competition a matter of force, not product quality and demand, pitting gangs against gangs over who’s ready to offer the best, most potent crystal meth there is.
To Loko, the meth phenomena is “the second coming of crack.” And while it’s making many gangsters rich, it’s also hurting entire families.
To the Bloods gang member, life has mellowed out considerably after new marijuana policies were signed into law in in the Golden State.
At first, Loko was selling crystal meth he claims to have gotten from “the Mexicans,” but as life happened and his family grew, he decided to go legit. “Weed offers a better opportunity,” he told Ozy. Instead of “hustling” in the streets to push what he calls “super meth, like that Breaking Bad stuff,” he decided to get legalized, obtain a card and documents, and open his own legal dispensary.
“Meth is destroying the Black community,” he told the publication. In the early 2000s, locals didn’t go for meth. Now, it’s the most popular drug around.
According to Vice News, Mexican cartels are responsible for making crystal meth the real deal in Los Angeles.
In 2008, one pound of crystal meth was worth $8,000 to $10,000. The fact other types of substances were more accessible in California’s black market then also helped to keep the price of meth up. But now that weed is legal and that cartels are focusing on other substances, meth is widely available—and cheap. As Mexican cartels started mass producing the drug, the cost of methamphetamine went down. One pound of meth now costs about $3,500, Vice News reports. Seizures of meth at the border between the United States and Mexico have surged 33 percent around San Diego, hitting a record high in 2014. And if Loko is right, there’s no stopping to the trend. Unless the laws change.
According to Jeffrey Miron, the director of economic studies at the Cato Institute, taking on drug cartels and their leaders and getting them out of circulation “will likely have no impact on the drug trade.”
Violence doesn’t cease to exist when the Drug Enforcement Administration catches a kingpin, and yet, most governments in the world embrace prohibitionist policies, making the trade of wanted goods a criminal act. The hype around illegal substances often helps to boost the popularity of destructive substance abuse. Once California loosened its policy toward marijuana production and distribution, many people like Loko made better lives for themselves, distancing their families from the streets’ violent environment.
If policymakers are serious about saving lives and helping people kick drug addiction to the curb, they must begin taking the liberalization of all drug laws seriously, not only those that affect marijuana.