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by Peter Moskos

October 4, 2008

Mexico's war on drugs

When we last visited Mexico, tens of thousands were protesting violence resulting from drug prohibition.

Now Mexican President Felipe Calderón has proposed decriminalized possession of small quantities of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine to those who agree to undergo drug treatment. This is similar to a bill he proposed two years ago. But that bill died after intense pressure (ie: foreign meddling) from the U.S.

Here's the story in the New York Times.

"The Mexican attorney general’s office has said that it is so overwhelmed with prosecuting organized crime that it cannot handle the large number of small-time drug cases."

"United States officials have heaped praise on Mr. Calderón for his crackdown on Mexico’s drug cartels. Since taking office in December 2006, he has sent some 30,000 troops into eight states and cities in an attempt to quell drug violence. But the violence has only increased. Almost 3,000 people have been killed in drug violence this year."

"Responding to Mr. Calderón’s plan, American officials said Thursday that United States policy opposed the legalization of even small amounts of drugs. “It rewards the drug traffickers and doesn’t make children’s lives safer,” said an American official, who asked not to be identified."

The problem with decriminalizing drug possession is it doesn't get at the harms of drug prohibition. The violence comes from dealers. Not users.

And addicts are a problem. It helps to have the power of arrest sometimes to keep them in line.

Still, there is the advantage of not wasting courts and prisons dealing with drug users.

1 comment:

dave h. said...

Well, good for Mexico, in my opinion...

“It rewards the drug traffickers and doesn’t make children’s lives safer,” said an American official, who asked not to be identified."

This unidentified official knows how to play the drug war game. If you invoke "the children," maybe the people won't notice that prohibtion does more harm than good.