Competetive drug market functioning efficiently

Why is it that people forget that the rules of the market apply even to illegal substances? This article in The Independent ponders a trivial matter of economics:

Many illegal drugs are cheaper and more widely available than ever before in Britain, despite the relentless attack by Customs and the police on traffickers and dealers.

And gives a stupid answer:

The reasons for the decline are complex and vary from drug to drug, ranging from increased competition between gangs to a decline in demand for now unfashionable ecstasy. Heroin can now be cut with cheaper chemicals, making it more dangerous, while cannabis traffickers have in part been hit by a huge rise in home-grown cannabis.

While the real answer lurks a few paragraphs later, listed as just one of many reasons:

The changing profile of dealers has also influenced prices across the country. Once the illicit drugs market was controlled by a select number of established crime gangs or families. But the increase in competition means that these have now been overtaken or replaced by a multitude of traffickers, including Kurds and Albanians who are forcing other dealers to diversify and lower their prices.

When prices in some industry go down, we need not come up with a variety of innovations when there is such a simple answer: competition. Whether the market is for scrap metal, cellphones, or recreational drugs, competition leads to lower prices. Its as simple as that. If the government really wants to reduce the drug problem, they should try making drugs a legal monopoly. That'll guarantee a reduction in units supplied.

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I don't think the stupid

I don't think the stupid answer is that stupid. As a stand alone explanation, it misses the forest and is looking at the trees, that is true.

However, within the full scope of things, looking at the different innovations that market forces have allowed individuals to produce isn't stupid, it is just looking at the issue on another level. In taking the view that it is stupid, that might logically lead to the conclusion that economic historians should ignore innovations such as the cotton gin and the assembly line, and focus only on things such as the state of property rights in that time period. In order to get the whole picture, one needs to look at both. Perhaps the journalist writing this didn't focus on economics as soon as they should have, but it is easier for journalists to focus on direct facts (the innovations) than economic theory, and that is probably how it should be. They get the economic theory wrong often enough, from the quotations provided it looks like this article at least got it right.

I think this post is

I think this post is wrongheaded.
major premise: prices are determined by the number of sellers, not by production costs or demand curves.
minor premise: the state can prevent all competition in an industry by giving itself a monopoly.
For a given industry, let's say widget sales, how much of a reduction in price should be expected if the number of sellers goes from 50 to 1000?
(where the change just "happens", rather than being driven by some other factor such as lowering artificial barriers to entry.)
That's galbraithian, the idea that oligarchic industry dominance is what makes prices high, and the government can intervene usefully to fix a problem.
I thought that most of the benefits of competition were obtained if there were at least 10 (maybe as few as 2) independent sellers in a market.
(Granted this would be a little different in a black market where more sellers can better evade government retaliation.)
The argument that government can reduce the number of sales in an industry by entering the industry needs more explantion to be persuasive. If the government price is lower than the current market price, that means more sales. If the government price is higher, then the black market still has a niche to fill. Sure, the government coming in like a walmart will displace some mom and pop shops, but it's hard to see how unit sales decrease if there is no decrease in the demand curve.
Unless the government sales don't count as sales?
I suspect both your major and minor premises are wrong. Alternatively, you are right but not yet persuasive. Maybe you can explain further.
Cordially, arbitrary aardvark.

First revision of above

First revision of above comments (Does anybody have a comment feature than can be edited? That would be a handy innovation.)
Drug Cartel:
Ok, now what I am seeing is that before, the fewer sellers were not independent, but, being criminal gangs in a regulated industry, attempted to become a cartel, obtaining monopoly profits through restraint of trade.
And what we know about cartels is they erode over time, as cartel members cheat each other and the high prices attract new sellers and substitute goods. If that was the point, I agree. Basic austrianism that temporary monopoly profits drive industry formation.

AA - remember that we are

AA - remember that we are looking at *changes*. I am not saying that the price is set only by the number of sellers. Merely that when the price changes, and the level of competition has changed, that the latter is a sufficient explanation for the former. yes, production costs matter - but how much have they changed?

So why does it still cost me

So why does it still cost me 50 bucks for a bag of weed?