Thursday, September 18, 2008

legalize now

The terrorist attack in Morelia on Monday night has caused a lot of reactions in the blogosphere. But one of the most common is the suggestion that the United States simply legalize drugs and stop the collateral damage in other countries -- especially, Mexico.

Three months ago I wrote a series of posts on the problems of drug trafficking -- starting with
my brother's keeper. Rather than republish what everyone can read simply by starting with that link, those posts still reflect my personal opinion.

As long as Americans (and, to a lesser degree, Canadians) continue to smoke, inject, and snort drugs that travel through Mexico, Mexican drug lords are going to punish innocent civilians whenever anyone gets in their way.

I would like to see at least one of the American presidential candidates have the nerve to offer real change by announcing that it is immoral for Mexican children to die as victims of America's drug habit.

Like most entries, this blog is for me. Tomorrow I will do just that -- send a letter to both campaigns.

It can't hurt. It might help. After all, that is what American liberal democracy is all about.


islagringo said...

It's immoral for anybody's children to die because of anybody's drug habit. It would have been interesting to see what life would be like had Bush not interfered with Fox's plan to somewhat legalize drugs in Mexico. Although tempting, I do think it is wrong to blame the USA for what is going on here. I would guess that the majority of the drug trafficing (sic) is for consumption in the USA, but not all of it. There are plenty of drug users right here in good 'ol Mexico.

LIberal democracy? Since when? I can't see any party, at least prior to such a close election, endorsing legalizing drugs in any way, shape or form.

(I seem to be in an argumentative mood again today! Sorry. I do admire your indignation about this situation)

Nancy said...

I agree with Wayne, the candidates won't touch this one right now. But somehow the human side of this drug war needs to be publicized.

How about you get in touch with Oprah instead?

Billie said...

I heard on some TV program that because of the downturn in the economy in the USA, we aren't buying as many drugs so they are being shipped to other places like Europe. Don't know that is true. But I agree with Wayne that there are Mexican users too.

Bob Mrotek said...

I think that they should do the same thing with so called "illegal drugs" that they do with "legal drugs" like alcohol and tobacco. They should tax them heavily and then pursue those who don't pay the tax. I don't think the problem would go away entirely but the severity would lessen. The tax money could go for prevention and intervention. A certain percentage of the population will always opt to "drop out and get stoned". I'm afraid that containment is the only solution :(

Babs said...

Well, if what is getting to the US was just from Mexico that would be one thing, BUT the majority is from Columbia, Peru and other countries in Central and South America. Mexico is a's very, very involved.
Would love to discuss this topic but it is a long conversation not possible on the internet.

jennifer rose said...

Hey, I've been in favor of legalizing drugs ever since I went to college. But that step, honorable as it may be, won't be the entire solution.

It's a issue of simple economics. If drugs are taken out of the equation by legalizing them, organized crime will simply take up the supply of something else that's desired and in short supply or prohibited. Like gasoline, saturated fats, and tobacco for starters.

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- Your points are well taken. Mexico also has a growing drug problem that it is reluctant to address. President Fox was willing to start, as you note.

Nancy -- Good idea about Oprah -- and other opinion makers. National Review has been pushing for legalization for years. Perhaps they can help to increase the temperature on the politicians.

Billie -- My understanding is that upper and middle class users have cut back their recreational use -- at least those who are not embezzling from their employers.

Bob -- I would treat "illegal drugs" the same as alcohol and tobacco. But I would cut the taxes on them, as well. Watching the government take over the role of the mafia is just a bit disturbing to me.

Babs -- I agree that legalization is merely a component of a much broader set of problems -- most of them that simply come back to humans being covetous beings.

Jennifer -- Once again, you are correct. But legalization gets us started on the correct road. As you have noted before, all of our "wars" on problems (drugs, teen pregnancy, poverty) are code words that politicians do not have the slightest idea what to do other than spend money and talk tough. There will be criminals wherever governments attempt to create a false market -- even on Wall street.

islagringo said...

I love this blog! It always produces some thought provoking comments.

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- I agree. THe people who leave comments are the best part of this blog.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I have recently moved to "legalize position" but do not think USA politicoans ready for that fight yet.

Steve Cotton said...

American Mommy -- Both current presidential candidates carry too much baggage to take on this issue. Maybe after one is elected ---

Gary Denness said...

To add my bit - it wouldn't do an awful lot of good legalising the stuff if you taxed it too heavily. The narcos will still have a market if they can substantially undercut the price. A good example would be the UK, where tobacco has become so heavily taxed a whole smuggling industry was born from nothing.

I did ask my students in class today what they felt was a more realistic option. The US legalising drugs, or sending troops across the border (with permission) to help combat the narcos. Neither are realistic in my opinion, but I could see the latter happening before the former, which is rather sad.

Steve Cotton said...

Gary -- I have dreaded the possibility of American troops heading south. The national interest test could certainly be met, but the historical implications would be staggering. Colombia should be the guide if Washington ever thinks about sending troops. Latin American countries are perfectly capable of addressing the issues of corruption and drug terrorists without American troops. But, now that you mention it, I can imagine both Obama and McCain deciding to use troops. I hope I am wrong.