There are no viable, or wise reasons for drug use to remain on the illegal side of the national judicial ledger. Legalization of drugs, starting with marijuana, will be a major step toward society getting back in control of its streets, and its sanity.
The violent circus that is the Mexican drug industry currently arrests the attention of the mainstream media herd which is reacting with “deer-in-the-headlights” amazement. In its stupor, it fears taking a politically incorrect position on the nonsense making up the current laws surrounding drug use. The answer, if one believes the current Administration’s response, is to spend additional taxpayer money and provide other support to Mexico in order to strengthen its own drug war efforts.
Following recent news headlines, one might perceive “drug wars,” as being a Mexican problem that only requires some of our reaction and attention. Not so. Even Canadians are becoming numb to the accumulation of bodies dropping daily from bullets flying through the streets of once docile cities like Vancouver. Vancouver has of late established its presence at the top of an infamous list. It is now home to more violent gangs than any other city on the continent.
The billions of dollars to be made from the traffic and sale of illegal drugs are worth the risk to armies of well-armed criminals. Drug lords from Miami to Toronto have accumulated powerful armies, and vast assets, including legal businesses and expensive real estate. In many neighborhoods, some of the largest gated mansions belong to the kings of the drug business. On our neighborhood street corners, the pushers at the bottom of the drug distribution hierarchy are visible and obvious as they ply their nefarious and toxic trade. We are all being affected by the crimes their clients must commit to raise money for the next hit. Our homes or our neighbors’ homes are subject to “home invasion,” a new crime that has become so common, it has made its way into our daily vocabulary. Everyone you know has been affected negatively by the current and failed war on drugs.
Well beyond our shores, but affecting us very directly, is the wealth that our laws on drugs have provided groups like the Taliban. In Afghanistan the billions in revenue received from feeding the costly demand for its principal export, finance the daily attacks on our soldiers, fund expanding terrorist networks around the world, and finance the growth of Islamic Sharia law governance. Whole countries are now under the control of well-armed, well-connected international drug lords. Dictatorships in countries in West Africa, for example, find themselves particularly attractive to the cocaine supply chain. Their vulnerabilities succumb readily to drug sourced billions. Countries such as Guinea-Bissau have become narco-states, providing convenient launching points for South American cocaine shipment distribution into Europe where a kilo of cocaine sells for about $50,000. In Guinea, diplomatic pouches expedite drug shipments under comfort of Presidential protection. Drug money is establishing a new order in countries like Niger and Mauritania. Drug cartels have become powers unto themselves. North America is their preferred market.
It should now be evident to anyone not blinded by ideology, that the present twenty five year archaic policy on drugs is not only NOT working, it is stimulating and energizing the decay of our society. Our policies positively affect the street price of all drugs, and induce the pusher to action. Prohibition itself, while dissonant with the Constitution, has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry as the never-ending war on drugs continues to fail, but its costs keep increasing. The impact of our policies on our own society is that we pay for the drug trade in lives, in international instabilities, in tax dollars, in personal loss, and in anxiety.
First on the agenda should be legalization of marijuana, reversing misguided laws that were supported by twisted racist social perceptions in Congress with funding from special interests. Allow individuals who decide they absolutely need it, to grow two plants for personal consumption for example. This action alone would vacate thousands of jail cells, but more importantly, it would remove justification for the pusher, and would end the massive inflow of cash into the hands of the drug hierarchy. Marijuana would have no street value.
Let’s take a page from the early ‘30s; defer to the reasons which led to the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, and the repeal of federal prohibitionary laws that unsuccessfully attempted to smother the consumption of alcohol. Ask Al Capone’s ghost how he felt about the repeal of prohibition. It would also be enlightening for anyone on either side of the argument to research the depraved process through which the government brought about the abolition of marijuana. Society has moved on from those very backward percepts, and very peculiar special interest groups.
Legalization of other drugs can be brought under the control of state governments in time, but the lessons learned from the legalization of marijuana and alcohol, will guide the unraveling of laws governing use of cocaine and heroin. Collection of taxes on sale of drugs will be just a beginning. The objective should be to minimize the value of street drugs. There will always be individuals among us seeking alternative levels of consciousness through substance abuse. Our objective as a society is to reduce the impact that these people’s self-abuse has on the rest of us. It is time for a paradigm shift in attitudes and a reversal of the failed Control Substance Act governing the war on drugs.
James Raider writes The Pacific Gate Post