by Bob Newland
Thank you, Mike, and Hello Bill & Everyone. Right off the bat, I have to take issue with Mike (wouldn’t be me if I didn’t). I am NOT a one-issue guy. I am a two-issue guy.
The issues are Liberty and Justice. Both are smeared with the blood and snot and lies of the so-called War on (Some) Drugs, not to mention the bodies of the innocent killed in the crossfire between two vicious groups of people--those who want to make a living in the illegal marketplace and those who think it is their place to prop up that group's profit mechanism.
In 2007, 2723 murders in Mexico were attributed to illegal drug businessmen killing each other and those who got in the way. The 2008 tally was 5612. As of June 14, 2009, 2902 people have died in the violence, often in a quite gruesome manner. The toll this year will exceed 6000, probably by a lot.
The deaths themselves don’t provide an adequate measure of what is being done to Mexico by the drug war. The police are paralyzed—either they cooperate with the gangs or they, and often their whole families, are dead. If they cooperate and are found out by some other agency—the army, most likely--they’re imprisoned or tortured or shot by that agency.
Cabinet ministers and judges are on the take, often under the same threats as the cops.
The stimulus creating the mayhem is competition over access to the US market for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and—by far the largest portion monetarily—cannabis.
For those who pay attention to such events, one thing is glaringly obvious. The US could cut the violence to almost nothing overnight with the simple stroke of a pen, by legalizing cannabis (or “marijuana,” if you will). I would prefer all drugs be legalized, thus allowing regulation, taxation, and control. But legalizing marijuana is at least politically feasible, and only the more myopic believe it would increase, rather than decrease, problems.
Since about 85% of the market numbers involved are related to cannabis, one could surmise that about 85% of the violence would disappear as the bottom dropped out of the retail prices, about 90% of which reflect the risk involved in bypassing law enforcement.
What would be left would be a few hundred violence-oriented people with guns, but no money to bribe law enforcement, which would then have incentive to protect their communities from whatever crime the crazies would turn to for self-support. A few weeks, and things would revert to something near normalcy.
When the “problem” of marijuana is solved by that wave of the wand, so will most of whatever problems there are with the other illegal substances I mentioned. Why? Because, in reality, the problems of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin are promoted and borne by so few folks that they really don’t amount to a pinch of shit in the overall scheme of things.
Any other approach to the “problem” of marijuana and other “drugs” is nothing less than an attempt to repeal the law of gravity.