Archived: Mexico Surges Ahead of United States


War on Drugs,
Is our tradition;
Works as well,
As Prohibition.

Now what might be a notable activity where Mexico’s performance outpaces the United States? Maybe soccer? Sometimes. Certainly per-capita corn consumption. Surely tequila consumption. Government-owned oil production?

Here’s a new one. Mexico’s congress has just decriminalized small amounts of drugs—all drugs—in private possession for personal use. Unfortunately the U.S. media don’t agree with that action, so we won’t get many details. Our federal government is likewise appalled, so it won’t talk much about it either. In fact the White House successfully pressed Mexico for years not to do it.

But times do change. Even our media has recently taken up Mexico’s brutal drug wars, far more violent than our own, and Mexicans are universally disgusted by the killings. Since they have no power to cure the real cause, however—archaic U.S. drug policy—at least they can shove a stick in the gringos’ eye by changing their own rules. They understandably resent the fact that the main killing fields of the American War on Drugs are their own streets.

They’re not alone. Most of Latin America, long chafing under U.S. domination, is also feeling its oats. Brazil, previously a staunch ally in narcotics prohibition, has lately abandoned prison sentences for drug possession, leaning now on treatment and community service. Argentina too, has joined the defectors. Its Supreme Court has ruled that its constitution doesn’t allow punishment for possessing or using marijuana.

Then there’s Europe. Some of those pothead governments have long gone soft on drugs, even offering clean needles and clean heroin to hopeless addicts. Worse, now parts of Canada have joined the trend. This further confirms that we ought not to poison ourselves with their nutty form of health insurance.

And now the plague of drug reform has even cropped up within our very borders. New York, whose Rockefeller laws have long set the national standard for harshness, has finally softened them, much to the dismay of drug warriors everywhere. Many other states have legalized medical marijuana, and President Obama’s new drug czar has announced that the feds will no longer arrest locals for pot possession that is allowed by their own state. Heaven forefend!

All this sagging of drug zeal has generated a good deal of panic in the warrior world. Many thousands of Americans make quite a decent living guarding harmless drug prisoners. Other thousands do quite nicely arresting them. Countless others build, maintain, and service the prisons where they rot. What will become of these stalwarts if the prisoners are set free? The economy is in enough trouble already.

So instead, why not license, control, regulate, and tax the producers of drugs? Think of the improved revenue and quality control. It’s the illegal trafficking that generates the real profits. If government controlled that traffic the drug lords would soon be out on the street selling pencils with the former bootleggers. Demon Pot would thus be tamed along with Demon Rum.

Unfortunately drug reform, like single-payer health care, may be beyond America’s limited capacity to swallow.

Minuteman Media columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.

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