Since 2008 more than 7,000 people, including Mexican civilians, journalists, police, and public officials, have been killed in clashes with warring drug traffickers — traffickers who US government officials allege derive 60 percent of their profits from exporting marijuana north of the border.
So what are the Obama administration’s plans to quell these gangs growing influence and the surging violence surrounding the drug trade? Troublingly, the White House appears intent on recycling the very strategies that gave rise to Mexico’s infamous drug lords in the first place.
In the December 2009 issue of The Freeman I propose another solution.
How To End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War
via The Freeman
[excerpt] Americans’ support for legalizing the regulated production and sale of cannabis — an option that would not likely rid the world of cartels, but would arguably reduce their primary source of income — is at all an all-time high.
… Predictably, critics of marijuana legalization claim that such a strategy would do little to undermine drug traffickers’ profit margins because cartels would simply supplement their revenues by selling greater quantities of other illicit drugs. Although this scenario sounds plausible in theory, it appears to be far less likely in practice.
As noted, Mexican drug lords derive an estimated 60 to 70 percent of their illicit income from pot sales. (By comparison, only about 28 percent of their profits are derived from the distribution of cocaine, and less than 1 percent comes from trafficking methamphetamine.) It is unrealistic to think that cartels could feasibly replace this void by stepping up their sales of cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin—all of which remain far less popular among U.S. drug consumers. Just how much less? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey data show that roughly two million Americans use cocaine, compared to 15 million for pot. Fewer than 600,000 use methamphetamine, and fewer than 155,000 use heroin. In short, this is hardly the sort of demand that would keep Mexico’s drug barons in the lucrative lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to think that pot legalization would wipe out prohibition-inspired violence altogether. After all, ending alcohol prohibition in America didn’t single-handedly put the Mafia out of business (though it greatly reduced its power and influence). And it’s always possible that Mexico’s drug cartels would continue to engage in violent acts toward one another as competing factions fought over the crumbs of America’s drastically shrunken illicit-drug market.
That said, it’s equally unrealistic, if not more so, to think that continuing our same failed drug war policies will do anything but exponentially increase the catastrophe they’ve spawned, both in Mexico and at home. It’s time to engage in a different strategy. It’s time to seriously consider legalizing marijuana.
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