Kevin Drum notes that, in researching an article for the Summer issue of Mother Jones on marijuana legalization, he discovered that no one really knows rather basic facts, such as how many metric tons of the crop are cultivated each year domestically. Indeed, “virtually all of the research related to cannabis is, perhaps fittingly, sort of hazy.”
I would presume, though, that this would be true for any illicit activity. We have a good idea of how many people are murdered or how many banks are robbed, since those crimes produce tangible metrics. But do we really have any clue about the size of the economy controlled by organized crime, the number of dollars bet illegally on sporting events, and the like? I can’t imagine we do.