The true effects of drug prohibition in the United States aren’t really felt here. We don’t have large scale criminal organizations battling for control of territory in the streets. Mexico does. Sure, we have gangs on our streets that fund a lot of their operations through drug sales, but nothing approaching the levels of the cartels in Mexico, like the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, and more.
These criminal enterprises derive a majority of their funding from the production, transit, and sale of currently illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. If Americans were dying by the thousands every year due to organized crime that derived their funding from drugs, there would be a much be a much different debate going on. This is why it’s been so hard for the drug policy movement to get this policy changed.
I’m not the only person saying this. People such as incoming President-Elect of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto, the President of Guatemala Otto Perez Molina, and the President of Uruguay José Mujica, to name a few, have all explicitly argued for “market alternatives” to the War on Drugs the US insists on waging. They all see that taxing and regulating these drugs would take them out of the hands of these criminals, and put them in the hands of responsible businesses. They see first hand the effects of our failed drug war, and want to do something different.
Below are some links from these Presidents and others in South America talking about the need for a change in policy. I think y’all should read them as they hammer the point I’m trying to make.
- Latin American Presidents Call for Drug Debate at UN (9/27/2012)
- Guatemalan President Argues Drug Legalization and Calls Out US Anti-Drug Effort (9/27/2012)
- South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization (7/29/2012)
- Mexico’s President-Elect: Legalization Should Be Part of Drug Strategy Debate (7/3/2012)
- Colombian Congress advances drug legalization bill (5/10/2012)