The shocking wave of drug-cartel-related mayhem and the revelation that the Mexican cartels control violent street gangs in 230 American cities should be a wake-up call to the proponents of drug prohibition in both Canada and the U.S.
And the estimate that drug exports provide $13 billion U.S. a year in revenues to Mexican drug cartels alone should be a wake-up call to all concerned by violent crime. It is the equivalent of providing a $182-billion-a-year source of revenue to organized crime in the U.S. and $20 billion a year to organized crime in Canada.
Drug prohibition has become not only the biggest source of revenue for organized crime across North America but also the primary cause of most violent crime on the continent.
Clearly, it is time to abandon drug prohibition.
Marijuana, in all its forms, should simply be legalized and controlled. Although its opponents decry it as a so-called “gateway” drug leading to consumption of much more dangerous drugs, the real “gateway” drug is not marijuana but alcohol.
But the fact that marijuana is a much less harmful drug than either alcohol or tobacco does not seem to hold much weight with Canadian, American and Mexican lawmakers. That’s because alcohol and tobacco are “respectable” drugs, produced and market by “respectable” corporations and providing massive profits to “respectable corporations.”
Its legalization and control would provide an enormous source of revenue for governments, make it much easier to finance and provide treatment for all types of addiction, reduce violent crime, and give greater credibility to efforts to educate the public against wanton abuse of more dangerous substances.
But all recreational drugs should be decriminalized and controlled by governments.
Employing a fingerprint-recognition user database, it would make it much easier to prevent trafficking to youth, much easier to track and influence consumption patterns, and much easier to identify and offer assistance to problem users.
It would greatly reduce violent crime in cities across North America, end the criminalization of citizens whose only crime is choosing the wrong intoxicants, and deny organized crime its biggest source of revenue and social acceptance.
Clearly, prohibition has not worked. It has brought the law into disrepute. It has criminalized millions of otherwise-law-abiding citizens. It has bred distrust between citizens on the one hand and police and courts on the other. It has created a mystique and sense of adventure about illegal drug use. It has turned our cities into violent jungles. And it has made millionaires out of thousands of the most violent, most brutal, most despicable elements in society.
The war against drugs has been waged for decades – at a cost of billions of dollars in law-enforcement expenditures and tens of thousands of deaths.
It is time to lighten up and light up.