Monday, April 18, 2011

The Next Hot Drug: Cigarettes?

Ahhh, yet another example of the unforeseeable ripple effects of the Great Recession:  the next smokin' hot drug targeted in the War on Drugs may be (drumroll) .... cigarettes.

That's according to this article in USA Today. How does a legal, widely available, and enormously popular drug like nicotine get illegally "trafficked"? Tea Party members, hang onto your kettles, because it has to do with taxes:
A recent wave of state tobacco tax increases, designed to pump revenue into cash-strapped local governments, is inspiring an increasingly dangerous cigarette smuggling industry where big profits lure violent criminal gangs and drug traffickers into the booming illegal market, according to law enforcement officials and court records.
Larry Penninger, acting director of the tobacco diversion unit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), says investigations and prosecutions involving tobacco trafficking have been increasing as smugglers flood high-tax states with cigarettes from low-tax states. ...
Larry Penninger, acting director of the tobacco diversion unit of theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), says investigations and prosecutions involving tobacco trafficking have been increasing as smugglers flood high-tax states with cigarettes from low-tax states.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death and causes one in every five deaths in the United States.

Congress loves to slap mandatory minimum sentences on whatever the new/popular/scary/headline-grabbing drug of the day is.

You tell us:  what are the odds that Congress will slap mandatory minimums on a legal drug that many (including our own President) currently use or have used in the past?

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