I'm on your side, even though your ideas about the Drug War are stupid
by David Karlsruher
Posted on January 8, 2009
I've written this article at least 10 times on this laptop and few hundred other times in my head. I have come to realize that I can not write this piece with the serious and stern tone of an English butler – as it should be written. I apologize ahead of time for my approach and your eventual dismay at my deflating of your little idea balloon.
The legalization of drugs in the United States is gaining more and more proponents as the body counts south of the border soar. The brutal war between the cartels has turned into a "crisis" for the residents of Mexico and threatens to become a problem on this side of the border. And by "crisis," I mean an actual "crisis." Too often our news media labels simple isolated events as a "crisis." This is a real "crisis."
The latest group to call for the prospect of legalizing narcotics is El Paso's City Council. They drafted a resolution urging elected officials up the food chain to look into the endeavor. The mayor vetoed the resolution the same day it passed. A day later the effort drew the national media's attention. And we're left to be sized up by a bunch of Americans who think we make salsa and inspire Marty Robbins to sing.
Before City Council made their wishes clear on the subject, Sito Negron had forwarded the idea at the end of an impressive article for Texas Monthly (I'm very jealous of his ink in Texas Monthly, by the way). Negron's article painted a very chilling and gruesome picture for readers. He did not, however, go into detail about his "legalize solution." No one has yet to do so.
We're left with a simple mantra – Legalize drugs so the violence in Juarez stops.
Can we agree that that is your mantra? If you can't agree with that and you want to change your story now, stop reading. You'll only be angered starting a carriage return from here.
A UTEP Humanities professor once told a half-asleep class that the solution to the turmoil in the Middle East was to evacuate Israel and bomb it into oblivion. The professor's reasoning was simple – take away the object the two groups are fighting over and your problem will be solved.
It sounded like a very simple solution. I likened it to taking away a rattle that two babies are fighting over.
Well, as you're probably aware, as I was at the time, that the problems between the Muslims and Jews would still exist without the Holy Land to fight over. The problems run a little deeper than land at this point.
The same can be said for the cartel problem in Mexico. Legalizing drugs in the United States seems like an easy cure-all solution to the problem. The fact is, the problem runs a little deeper than the legalization of drugs.
I'd like to solve the problem of cartel violence in Mexico just as much as anyone. I just don't think many people have thought the legalization of drugs solution through. It may change some things here in the United States, but it has little or no chance of changing Mexico's current circumstances.
In order to examine the fallacy of the argument we must look at all the facets involved with the legalization of either all or some of the drugs currently being inventoried and shipped to us by the cartels.
I will preface the rest of what I write here with a quick blurb on how I feel about drugs. I'm the type of American that believes in freedom. I believe that from day one of this "democracy" that we should have been free to consume whatever we liked as long as we weren't hurting anyone else. I believe in your right to be a crack head, dope smoker or smack user. I also believe you should be able to sell your organs on Ebay and drive around with your seatbelt off if you are over the age of 16. I believe in your right to be a total idiot or a complete genius – how you achieve either of those is up to you. I believe in freedom.
The first problem I have with the "legalize solution" to the cartel violence is the immediate backing away from actually legalizing all drugs. Just read Sito Negron's most recent finger shaking piece aimed at Mayor John Cook. [link] His argument quickly moves to the "let's at least legalize pot because it's not that bad" argument. Sounds to me like the pot smokers want to use the violence in Juarez to promote their need to smoke doobies in public.
What I don't understand is how legalizing just one of the many drugs the cartels bring in would stop the cartel from behaving the way they have been -- badly. Are they going to throw their hands up in the air on the day marijuana becomes legal and quit the business? I don't think so. Seems like plenty of Americans are still going to need their cocaine and heroin after marijuana is legalized.
So I'm confused as to how legalizing pot helps anyone but the pot smokers.
Of course, the talk always starts out how the war on drugs is worthless and by legalizing all drugs we could save lives and money. Really?
You may have heard of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are the folks that make sure that the new heartburn medicine you're taking doesn't make you lose your hair and make your heart explode (they don't seem to mind if drugs make you vomit and give you diarrhea, though). They also are good about making sure you don't consume foods made of stuff that will kill you… quickly. You're on your own with heart disease.
We trust the FDA to govern those products that we consume. We want those products to be safe. Drug companies spend years and millions of dollars testing drugs so that they can pass the FDA's stringent rules and regulations. They want to make sure that those drugs are absolutely safe to consume. What do you think those drug companies are going to say the first day black tar heroin goes on sale at Walgreens? How about the day crack gets put next to the antihistamines?
Can you hear it? It's all the folks reading this article angrily typing, "WE JUST WANT MARIJUANA LEGALIZED! IT'S GOOD FOR YOU!" into the comments box below this article. That still doesn't explain why their resolution talks about the open ended legalization of all illegal drugs. They could have easily specified the ganga as all they wanted legalized. Even at that, nobody has yet to explain how it will make the cartels stop killing so many people.
And one more quick thought on the FDA and legal weed. How much will the price of weed go up once it's regulated? I'm talking about after they put rules on how strong it can be and who can sell it and how much they can sell at one time. Don't think for a minute that legalized Mary Jane is going to be your favorite hydroponic blend out of Canada or L.A.'s "chronic." No, the government tends to be pretty wimpy when it comes to the strength of mind altering substances. Just ask the boys in Tennessee who prefer "white lightning" over the store brands of alcohol.
Let's not forget about the taxes tacked onto the purchase of the harmless little appetite builder. All of a sudden you're asking your average pot head to fork over a wad of cash for crappy bud. Something tells me a guy could make a little money sending some stronger pot north to sell in the back alleys for cheaper than you can get cheesy legal stuff for. I bet the cartels could figure out how that's done!
That's a perfect lead into the "prohibition argument" that so many of the legalize crowd like to use. This is a two-point argument. The first claim is that once alcohol became legal all the illegal manufacturing and purchasing went by the wayside. The second claim is that the lifting of prohibition led to the downfall of the mob. Both arguments are laughable – even without smoking the whacky tobacky.
First off, moonshine is still a problem for certain parts of the country today. Way into the 1950s the problem was considered quite a serious one. When the government originally shut down the alcohol trade, a new underground market for suppliers and distributors was born. They didn't just close up shop the day they tapped the legal kegs again. They offered a stronger, more familiar product for less. Familiar because it was what you had when everything else was illegal. Stronger because the government wasn't regulating it. And cheaper because it wasn't taxed. I think we went over this already.
The mob flourished during prohibition, but they didn't die afterwards. The mob took everything they had mastered during prohibition such as bribing public officials and creating large criminal networks based on a military-like hierarchy and applied it to new businesses. The mob simply found a new gig using their old song and dance. For Christ's sake they built South Florida and Las Vegas! Lifting prohibition didn't put the fire out, it scattered the coals all over the place.
You don't think the cartels aren't going to adapt to the U.S. legalizing drugs? The cartels are good at moving things into the USA that we are not allowed to have whether it be drugs, rare animals or even illegal pesticides – they have figured out how to do it. Yes, there is a market for outlawed pesticides in this country. The cartels will simply find something new to import to us and go on with business as usual.
How long before the Mexican cartels become the biggest dealers of black market cigarettes in the U.S. (Isn't it ironic that there's yet another example of legal substance that has a thriving market for a cheaper alternative?) Organized crime in the northeastern U.S. has latched onto the black market cigarette trade due to the rising prices cigarettes caused by higher taxes (we've talked about this, right?). Seriously, how long before the cartels are in that game and still killing each other over the rights to illegally smuggle them north of the border?
Maybe the legalize crowd thinks that the day we make all of those drugs legal the cartel members will all become nonviolent businessmen. They'll just stop doing things the way they've always done them. No more guns, no more payoffs and no more illegal behavior – just a bunch of choir boys providing goods in exchange for money. The day that happens is the day Sponge Bob Square Pants reads passages from Andrew Dice Clay's children's book. Be intellectually honest with yourself and realize who you are dealing with.
The bottom line is that the legalization of drugs will not stem the violence among the cartels in Mexico. Please show me how taking one or more of their products away is going to keep them from moving onto something else or even away from those very products?
The problem isn't us, folks. It's them. It's their government. It's their way of life.
Our government would never let an organized criminal enterprise take over our country. Before you get all patriotic and start humming "Battle Hymn of the Republic," realize that our government isn't so interested in protecting us from cartels because they like us a lot. They like being the only criminals with their hands in our pockets and don't take too kindly to competition.
In Mexico they have a different way of doing things and you know it. There isn't one place in the U.S. where the paying off of cops is so frequently practiced that it's a part of your routine for traveling there. (Please lie to me and tell me you don't know to leave a $20 in your wallet and put the rest of your money in your sock just in case you meet a cop). What do you think that cop or government official is willing to do for a few thousand? That's where the trouble starts.
If you really are concerned with the violence in Mexico coming to a stop then you need to lay the blame squarely on the way they run their country from top to bottom. The cartels choose to do business the way they are doing business because they can get away with it. There's no recourse for their actions. Why would they buy out a competitor? They can just kill him and his family and take his business. It saves on the paper work.
The government has failed to do their job and thus left it up to unarmed, poor citizens to try and figure out how to stop the criminals. I can't blame them for adopting the, "if you can't beat them, join them," attitude. They really don't have any other choice.
I know what you are saying right now, "but but but Dave we buy the drugs so we are responsible for what the cartels do!" (I know I'm not supposed to cuss and a bunch of you have asked me not to, but we're a 1,000 words deep here and I need to make a point.) Bullshit! I bought a Chrysler, but I'm not responsible for them running their business into the ground.
We are not responsible for their behavior and we need to stop pretending we are. We buy illegal drugs from a lot of different countries. The majority of them conduct business in a quiet non-murderous way. Maybe a few people get killed, but it's not like they are being compared to Baghdad or anything like that. Look at the Canadians. They grow and smuggle in tons and tons of marijuana to the U.S. and they manage to keep the automatic gunfire to a minimum. Why can't the Mexican cartels do that?
Hell, I just thought of something. We're buying drugs from both Canada and Mexico. If we're doing something as consumers that makes one of those countries violent and out of control, then our behavior should have the same effect on the other country, right? We're the problem, right? Well obviously the problem isn't us because you couldn't find two countries handling their duties as America's dope dealer more differently.
While we are on this, "who's to blame" topic, why don't we examine the drug users. If our so called "appetite" for drugs is the problem, shouldn't quitting those drugs be the answer? Wouldn't it be easier to stop smoking crack tomorrow then waiting several years for the federal government to legalize drugs? Why isn't the "blame America first" crowd refusing to buy drugs in hopes that the cartels will stop their bloody war? Oh, I get it. That might require a little effort on their part. Sorry I asked.
I'm just asking for some clarity here. People want to stop the drug wars in Mexico, but all I hear for a solution is to get more Americans hooked the cartel's top selling products. Pardon me if I'm not buying it.
Commence making angry comments about the wonders of Marijuana in the comments section below and realize that I'm on your side.
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