Before Washington ramps up yet another losing war on drugs, it should take a clear-eyed look at how its current strategies are affecting the supply and demand of drugs. Congressman Eliot Engel (D) of New York has introduced a bill to do just that.
Washington would be wise to back Congressman Engel's initiative because there has not been a thorough, frank evaluation of the fight against drugs in decades. The drug czar office's annual report is not enough. Recommendations by an independent commission, however, could generate the consensus and strategy we sorely need.
The cornerstone of US drug policy at home and abroad is to reduce the drug supply (from crop eradication to border seizures) in order to increase the domestic price of drugs. The idea is to deter both potential consumers and producers from entering the drug market.
Since May 1971, when President Richard Nixon proclaimed a "war on drugs," Washington and the Western Hemisphere have been unable to win it. Every claimed victory has turned out to be, in the end, a fiasco.
This article is like a lot of the really well written articles promoting various measures to rethink the drug war. The significance here is that during the spate of magazines encouraging marijuana's legalization in the spring, the Christian Science Monitor's editorial board wrote a lengthy article opposing legalization, becoming one of the rare legitimate news sources to come out and oppose the rethinking of our drug laws.
The second link I have for you today comes from Democracy Now for their interview with Charles Bowden, author of "We Bring Fear," a story I've linked to at least 3 or 4 times now. He also wrote a great piece for Harper's, "The Sicario: A Juárez hit man speaks."(segment of the article on CNN. Harper's doesn't put their content online for free)
Charles Bowden has done a lot of reporting on how the drug war has been affecting Mexico and he has some real interesting things to say on the issue. What drew me most from this interview was:
What people have to understand is Mexico would collapse without drug money. Our agencies estimate Mexico earns $30 billion to $50 billion a year in foreign currency from selling drugs. Remittances from Mexican workers here is their number two official source of currency, and that’s about $20-$25 billion. But the drug industry is essential. It’s penetrated the whole culture, and it isn’t going away. And nobody is going to destroy it.
I’ll give you another statistic. The consumption of drugs in Mexico has exploded. Last week, a public health official in Juarez, a city of a million and a half, said there’s at least 150,000 addicts in the city. Think of it this way: trying to eradicate the drug industry in Mexico is like trying to eradicate gambling in Las Vegas. It is the economy. And it’s the unspoken part of the economy.
While I've spent most of my time ranting about the corruption, Bowden's opinion bring in another idea about why government is in no rush to end the drug war, they fear the complete collapse of the Mexican economy.
Unfortunately, I'm not conniving enough to understand the positives of plans like these so I can't elaborate. All I know is that 20-30 million people aren't going to stop smoking pot and doing cocaine so unless American strategy changes, it looks like Mexico's drug cartels and military will keep reaping the benefits.
Happy Birthday Jon.
Get high, stay high,