Thursday, August 05, 2010

mexico courage

Mexico is starting to talk about being part of the solution to the current drug policy car wreck.

On Tuesday, President Calderón announced that he would consider opening a discussion with his government about legalizing drugs in Mexico.

That was an amazingly brave statement for a man who is known for his cautious conservatism. 

He made his statement while announcing that over 28,000 Mexican citizens have died as a result of the program he launched in 2006 to break the back of the Mexican drug cartels. 

Anyone who remembers the body counts of the Vietnam War will recognize the rest of the statistics announced on the same day. 84,000 weapons confiscated.  $411 million (USD) cash seizures.  $330 million (Mx) cash seizures.

The only thing missing was General Westmoreland spotting the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

The president made his announcement at the urging of business and civic groups, who are worried that the current drug war will continue to threaten Mexican society with little success of eliminating the cartels. 

Mexico is not alone in discussing reformation of drug policies.  Three former presidents — César Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil — have promoted the legalization of marijuana in Latin America.  Their goal is the same as we have discussed on this blog several times: to collapse the price of marijuana and undermine a major source of income for cartels.

The Mexican congress discussed a similar idea when it voted to legalize personal use of drugs last year.  A move that was called radical, but merely shifted drug policy to the level of prohibition in the United States during the 1920s. 

Even though that might be a good start, President Calderón is not interested in half measures.  He wants the discussion to be about the legalization of all drugs.  And he wants the public to hear all of the arguments on both sides of the issue.  In other words, to have a logical discussion, not a bumper sticker war.

Kudos to him.  As a conservative, he knows a failed government policy when he sees it.  Mexico is getting tired of spilling blood because of American drug users.

And he is merely talking about a discussion.  He is not proposing anything.  Yet.  But it is a start.

If Mexico legalizes drugs, the cartels will not go away.  The chief business of the cartels is shipping drugs north to the United States and Canada.  And shipping dollars south.  That will not change.  In fact, the drug flow north will increase because the cost of doing business will decrease.

This may be one of those rare moments in history where politicians north of the border have an opportunity to do the right thing -- and stop wasting money on a policy that did not work in the 1920s and will not be successful now.

I am not optimistic it will occur.  But we can always hope that one of these days politicians will act on behalf of sane public policy.


Leah Flinn said...

I have never touched drugs and I support full legalization. I do not believe it will happen, at least not on the US side. And unless it happens on the US side, as you said the only change will be expedited product transportation northward, and possibly a few new competitors in the market(which may actually lead to more violence).

It is not the federal government's job to police an entire industry related to personal choice - although this is done for legal drugs as well (FDA). At least billions of dollars could be allocated towards regulation and education vs. mass corruption and violence.

NWexican said...

Hey, Tijuana could go back to the roaring twenties during prohibition, when Caesars Salad was invented :) They could have medical marijuana being dispensed in Algodones farmacias and little old ladies could show their "prescription" and check their ounce at the the border.. Eugene, Oregon would become a ghost town..
Maybe the cartels would go into the Solar Panel business and we could get those cheaper?

Calypso said...

Kudos to him! Works for me. ;-)

Felipe said...

Glory Hallelujah, and praise de Lawd! I have not heard this. Are you sure? If so, it justifies, yet again, my vote for this man, the best president we Mexicans have ever had. Sadly, the competition is not too stiff, but never mind that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, I've always wondered if legalizing all drugs (with proper controls over their dispensing) would take away the profit incentive. Certain people believe that the U.S. would never do it because of potentiall huge economic losses (far too many people and entities who benefit from the war on drugs). What do you think? Is it feasible or not? Alee', right here in Salem!

Anonymous said...

People love drugs, and they will always find a way to do them. I know the Int'l drug trade is horrible. But on a personal level what is enjoying an evening smoke of something I grow organically, or eating myself into the health care system, or a lifetime of prescribed meds? It is all a game, a way to push agendas and push people into the outlets that make the man more money. "Love It or Leave It?" I moved to México.

Tancho said...

Never happen, too much money with big business running the jails etc. I would love to be wrong, but just practical.
Think about all the money the "war on drugs" cost...who got it?

Steve Cotton said...

Leah -- I am also a non-user, but I do not understand any of the logic behind our drug policy.

NWexican -- Nice.

Calypso -- I am really interested in this turn of events.

Felipe -- So says the AP. Of course, it is only a debate. But it is a start. Don't count on anything close to that in Washington.

By the way, good vote you cast.

Alee' -- Good to hear from you again. You hit the big point. We have entire public indutries devoted to illegal drug trade.

Korima -- I agree. Drugs are a terrible mistake. But that should be a personal choice; not a law.

Tancho -- Another example of too much money involved in a bad policy.

1st Mate said...

I'm wondering what kind of backlash Mexico would experience from the US if this policy were seriously pursued. The US has so much invested in the War on Drugs, how would they react to having their neighbors legalizing them, even if it were just pot?

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

I once again am given a reason to LOVE Calderon. I think that he is a great President and to look at a policy that he himself made and pushed and call on it's weaknesses is great.

I will say this however. I am not going to lie, I smoke pot and have for over 18 years. I see nothing wrong with it. However, I have used more then just a few other drugs during parts of my life and do fear the wider use of them. I think that legalizing natural drugs is fine but I worry about masive use of heroine, speed, crack- etc.

These are all going to be part of the discussion I know and I love that Calderon wants us to be a part of it and hear it all.

Personally I do not care about the cartels business- let them do thier business- what I do have a problem with are massive shoootings, killngs, and gun draws in the streets. That is something that we need to fix.

Sort of like was Escobar (who lived & operated here in Tulum) said to the Mexican Gov't at the time... just let me do my business, I will pay your debt to the UNited States and I will keep my products out of Mexico!!!! That was a sweet deal.

Islagringo said...

I really do believe that legalization and taxation is the answer. Like Rosa though, I fear the consequences of legalizing things like crack, meth and coke. I have watched too many people sink deep into a hole they could not climb out of on that stuff. My pot smoker friends though, another story all together. I would rather spend time with potheads than alcoholics anyday.

Steve Cotton said...

1st Mate -- I suspect Congress would cut off other aid in punishment. After all, kicking Mexico appears to be very popular with both parties right now.

Rosas Clan -- Like you, my conern is about the shootings. They are not going to stop and people are still using drugs. If we can undercut the reason for the cartels, economics can do its work on price. What people then choose to do is up to them. As for me, I consider drugs unnecessary.

Islagringo -- I am willing to take the risk.