International Cat Speculators Since 2006

Non-profitable police work

Initially this one annoyed me, but having thought about it, it’s sort of funny.

According to the UN [PDF], the street price of cannabis is around $6.50 a gram. The Drug Harm Index [PDF] gives its social harm of $12,000 a kilogram, most of which consists of the opportunity cost of production. A bit of simple maths shows that we’re looking at around $1,850 of harm per warrant. Throw in the P (at $1,000 per gram, plus $400/gram of social harm) and we’re talking about $2,500 per warrant.

Executing that warrant, with the presence of multiple officers, legal costs, planning, tagging and bagging everything, costs thousands of dollars. You don’t need to be a genius to see that this is at best a marginal economic proposition, and most likely pissing money down a bottomless pit.

Just a few things wrong with that:

1. The police had no idea what stock levels were on the various tinny houses raided. Perhaps the police should ring ahead and make sure that the houses they raid are well-stocked beforehand.

2. We don’t only enforce laws according to their economic impact. Do I need to explain that further? No, I don’t think so.

3. By this logic, people who purchase a widget factory would value that factory according to the widgets in stock. But as any accountant (or person with common sense) will tell you, high inventory is actually a bad thing – it’s turnover that makes a business. In the same way, the social harm prevented in this police operation is not the drugs currently in stock, it’s the future sales that are prevented.

You can hear Checkpoint’s interview here where a police officer gives some very reasonable figures which would suggest that each house is selling between $120,000  (20 sales x $20 x 300 days) and a million dollars or more per year.

4. Idiot isn’t even quoting the full report, which also says:

Cannabis was found growing at 44 locations, with 2657 plants and seedlings seized.

I’m going to take a wild stab and suggest that those plants weren’t included in the “haul” weight. I have no idea how much smoke-able cannabis each plant would yield, but you can be sure that the total weight would be a heck of a lot more than 32 kilos.

And did I mention that the police should just enforce the law? Yes, I think I did do that.


Comments on: "Non-profitable police work" (4)

  1. Do you really believe future sales were prevented? Or just future sale from these houses and by these people?

  2. So you’re suggesting that in this case where I’ve pointed out that a static situation is actually more dynamic, that the situation is even more dynamic which means that the static evaluation is probably more correct?


  3. MrNiceGuyNZ said:

    The social impact of turning people into criminals for growing a drug that causes less harm to society than alcohol is greater than the harm associated with the drug itself.
    You give someone a criminal conviction for drugs and whats the likelihood they are ever going to be able to find meaningful employment?
    Thanks to the propaganda the media pumps out about cannabis means there is a stigma attached to this drug, in my view an unfair stigma when you consider that alcohol is causing far more harm to society.
    The recent Law Commission review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 wanted to change all this and bring a more even playing field to this issue but alas since we have politician’s making the decisions the usual result occurs – harsher treatment of cannabis, wet bus ticket for alcohol. Considering the amount of time the Law Commission spent consulting experts in the field for politicians to piss all over it smells of corruption in govt.
    Why is it if the Law Commission recommends anything else it gets looked into and implemented but when it comes to creating a more balanced playing field when it comes to drugs the govt turns its back?

    • You give someone a criminal conviction for drugs and whats the likelihood they are ever going to be able to find meaningful employment?

      Not really a valid argument for decriminalization though.

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