End the war on drugs, save Mexican and American lives

Over the last several months there have been multiple news updates regarding an ongoing civil war in our neighboring country, Mexico, between government-backed forces and drug cartels smuggling marijuana and cocaine into the US.

This is a war moving gradually closer to our border, and while I do not think it is a leading proponent in the case for legalization of marijuana, the situation should get some heads in Washington to start seriously thinking about legalization in order to take the supply away from the cartels and take the violent crime aspect out of the marijuana trade.

The biggest problem I have with this situation is the United States government, more specifically those in charge of our war on drugs, has decided in their infinite wisdom the best way to fight this problem is by throwing money at it during a time when our own country is going broke. At the beginning of December, the US gave Mexico almost $200 million in anti-drug money, the first installment of a $400 million plan, to fight these cartels.

The problem is that while we are giving money in aid to the Mexican government, there are high-ranking police officers and government officials being brought up on corruption charges for passing information to cartels and even helping the cartels smuggle drugs into our own country. Then, we have to subsequently throw more money and man-power at our own drug problem. There is even a faction of former Mexican federal agents who go around as mercenaries working for the cartels, fighting the current federal agents.

Over the last couple weeks, there have been massive shootouts and killings in Mexico, mere miles away from California, including 21 people being found dead in the Mexican desert on Monday. This war has broken out so badly the Mexican government had to call in their Armed Forces to try to stem the tide of cartel slayings.

Many of those being killed are not just members of opposing cartel factions, but also federal officers fighting the cartels. Just to show they have no fear of the government, the cartels have mutilated the bodies of fallen agents and left threatening messages with the bodies.

The problem is all a result of our own war on drugs. For years it has been fighting drug growth and drug smuggling, starting mainly in South America and the southern parts of Central America.

While the fighting has been somewhat successful, the drug dealers have simply moved further north each time their operations are thwarted, rather than just giving up and leaving the trade as our anti-drug efforts have supposed would happen. The fighting and moving north has now led the cartels to our front porch and now threatens to spill into our country.

The Mexican drug gangs have even been named the biggest organized crime threat to the U.S., according to a Justice Department report in December. This may have been in light of the almost 6,000 drug-related killings in 2008 in Mexico, 943 of which were in November alone. According to Mexican officials, the kidnapping rate in Mexico the past year ranks them higher in the world than Iraq.

We would still need to worry about cocaine coming up and there would still be the problem of heroin coming in from the Middle East and Asia, but the marijuana trafficking problem could be solved by discontinuing the war on drugs. And marijuana is much of what is being trafficked from Mexico, and other reaches of South America, right now.

I know many Americans like to think of Mexico as a poor, dirty country, but this is a gross stereotype of them, and in fact they could be doing better financially than we are. Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product ranked the country as one of the 15 richest in the world last year, and I would wager much of that is drug money and most of the money is coming from American consumers.

If marijuana users in America were flushing that money into legitimate marijuana vending businesses in the U.S. instead of the coffers of Mexican drug cartels, just think of the money our government would have in taxes to help out during our economic struggle.

I know this Mexican civil war on drugs is not a leading factor that will convince people to believe marijuana should be legalized in our country, but let’s face it, people are not going to stop doing drugs anytime soon, if ever, and there are enough people who support the legalization. We should take the power away from the cartels and bring the supply to our country with legal limits, and we won’t have to worry about wild drug dealers and their vicious gangland assassinations in a neighboring country.

Until our lawmakers take this situation seriously and stop considering it a problem of far-off nations, this will continue to make its way toward American soil, and towards a drug-related civil war of our own.