Apparently, there are plans in the works to send U.S. military troops into northern Mexico to help fight the ascendant narcotics organizations there. It seems to be the case that these large criminal enterprises are, in some regions of northern Mexican states, more powerful than the legitimate government. And they are at war with one another (and against the legitimate government), creating a very violent, dangerous, and unstable state of affairs.
I have a suggestion that would not require putting our troops in harm’s way to solve what is really a problem for the Mexican government to solve, and which would not involve opening up a third front of significant activity for our military. Here it is: decriminalize drugs. I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments in favor of this before.
- People are going to do the drugs no matter what; criminalizing the possession, sale, or use of them does nothing to deter the prohibited acts.
- If drugs are really dangerous, then what addicts need is medical help, not a visit to the prisons, and what non-addicts need is education about why the drugs are dangerous, not an ineffective threat of prosecution. If drugs are not really dangerous, then there is no reason to criminalize them.
- Criminalizing drugs adds to the romance and fun of taking them, which encourages people to use them. No subculture exists concerning people who drink a lot of NyQuil.
- Importing decriminalized drugs into the United States is a good deal cheaper and easier that smuggling contraband, which will substantially lower the value of the stuff. The criminals and terrorists who profit from feeding our addictions will have to find a new source of funding for their other activities.
- The harm resulting to people from consuming illegal drugs is really no different than the harm they suffer from consuming legal drugs, like alcohol or prescription medications.
- Decriminalizing drugs will substantially reduce the demand for law enforcement and incarceration facilities, freeing up those resources to combat violent crimes. Further, dissociating the drug trade from criminal activity will render the drug trade itself substantially less violent.
- It’s the right thing to do in a free society to let adults decide for themselves what substances to put in their bodies.
- We can tax the sale of legalized drugs. Granted, I’m only proposing decriminalization here, which is different than legalization, but if we do take it to the next step, drugs can serve as a source of revenue, rather than something that creates a drain on government revenues. Money in is better than money out. It seems to work out acceptably well in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
But of course we won’t do that because that would be seen as encouraging drug use. Instead, American soldiers will wind up fighting drug lords in the deserts of Sinaloa and Sonora, some of them will die, and nothing will have been accomplished as a result. If we cut off these drugs lords’ funding at their source by devaluing their product, they will starve to death (or, more likely, seek other avenues of economic opportunity).
And this is one decriminalization advocate who does not use the stuff. I tried pot once, a long time ago, and didn’t like it. It gave me a blistering headache and the munchies, and no high at all. Maybe I got stinkweed instead of good stuff, but it was enough to convince me that smoking weed wasn’t for me. Consequently, I fail to understand what all the fuss is about — but given that people do want to smoke the stuff, it makes more sense to me for the government to take a hands-off approach than what we’re doing now.
If we did that, then maybe our young men and women wouldn’ t have to die at the hands of a drug lord in some Mexican wasteland.