Drug Legalization, Cartel Violence, and a Safer America

14 Feb

     Drugs should be legal, simple as that.

     A government has no place to regulate what a person decides to do with their bodies. Governments have every right to control the substances so children can’t get them, or to make it illegal for people to drive under the influence as these are both dangerous for the people involved, but a government has no right to make drugs illegal.  If a person is stupid enough to use some of the drugs that have been proving deadly, then let them be that stupid.  My personal opinions aside, there is actually a very reasonable set of possibilities that would occur if drugs were legalized that nobody would be opposed to having.  The foremost benefit being a huge drop in criminal activity and in turn less violence over drugs.  

     Here is segment of a news report by Vice telling the tale of Mitt Romney’s Mormon family in Mexico currently warring with cartels.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1y41mYuwU0

     This segment is on kidnappings and according to Vice currently 49 are happening daily.  

     For as long as I can remember cartels hailing from Mexico have been becoming an ever growing problem for the United States southern-most borders and our countries’ DEA’s effectiveness.  The ever increasing violence has made headlines almost weekly at times and our neighbors to the south have witnessed many horrific violent acts in public.  The Zeta cartel’s leader, “Z-40”, has recently been described as “violent to the point of Sadism”, by ABC News journalists Kreider and Schone.   The violence seen in Mexico which spills over into the United States via gangs and drug dealers is currently present solely because drugs are illegal.  Which brings me to another topic of debate; should drugs be legalized in the States?  Well now that marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and Washington, and many states are beginning to have medical marijuana programs we have seen some changes in drug policy in the US, but only on a state level.  With our state legislatures and our federal government in such dispute over these laws it only opens more gaps for criminals to take advantage of the disorder and make abundances of money off of illicit drugs.  The DEA, a huge agency with an annual budget of $3 billion (Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Public Affairs), with as much as they do to take drugs and people associated with them off the street still aren’t even close to solving the crime problem.

     Here is a video of DEA agent and a police officer debating the legalization of marijuana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krlb3UD1sCM.

     My home state of Oregon just did not pass the bill to legalize marijuana unlike Colorado and Washington, but it has decriminalized the drug in amounts that are under an ounce in measurement.  Polls taken in California have shown that decriminalization of just marijuana has decreased juvenile arrests by 20% between 2010 and 2011, (Alternet, Ferriss).  In 2011 numbers of juveniles arrested for pot dropped from approximately 15,000 down to a little less than 6,000 with possessions under an ounce being charged with a fine rather than jail time (AlterNet, Ferriss).  Not only does this approach keep more kids (adults as well) out of prison but it decreases at least some of the intense violence surrounding the drug trades investments in marijuana as it makes it less profitable due to its increased legality.  With notorious cartel leaders like Z-40 less interested in the marijuana trade because of the availability of it legally in the states, crime rate will drop along with the blood spilled over the control of the ganja trade.  But that is just one of many drugs the cartel is invested in.  What about the rest of them?      

     In Portugal a different approach on drugs and drug users has been taken with great success I might add.  Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, (LSE, Stevens), and treats drug addiction as a health problem not a criminal activity.  This has caused all criminal drug activity to cease and actually increased survival rate of drug addicts and improved their re-assimilation into the work force and society.  Now imagine for an instant if this policy was held in the USA.  How much less violence would take place in our streets and in the streets of Mexico.  How the money spent on the drug war could be spent on helping people with drug problems (which is also much cheaper) and other beneficial things for this country.  

     The facts are overwhelming in that we should follow in Portugal’s wake in implementing a completely new way to deal with drugs in a legal fashion.  Just as companies must change their approach to the market when sales are low and their policies out dated, we must change our policies concerning drugs or we will continue to lose the money we are dumping into the war on drugs and people will continue to suffer.    





Here are some links of relevant information that may be of interest:



Works Cited

     “Marijuana Decriminalization Drops Youth Crime Rates by Stunning 20% in One Year.” Alternet. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.http://www.alternet.org/marijuana-decriminalization-drops-youth-crime-rates-stunning-20-one-year 

     “DEA Fact Sheet.” Drug Enforcement Agency Office of Public Affairs. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. http://www.justice.gov/dea/docs/1207_fact-sheet.pdf

     “Portuguese Drug Policy Shows That Decriminalisation Can Work, but Only alongside Improvements in Health and Social Policies.” EUROPP. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/12/10/portuguese-drug-policy-alex-stevens/

     KREIDER, RANDY, and MARK SCHONE. “New Zetas Cartel Leader Violent ‘To the Point of Sadism'” ABC News. ABC News Network, 12 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ruthless-drug-lord-takes-control-deadly-cartel/story?id=17455674



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