Drug Czar: legalization no "magic bullet"

Posted on September 3rd, 2011 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

cannabisTim Padgett of Time magazine's Global Spin blog queried Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske about comments made by Mexican President Felipe Calderón in his speech following the recent Monterrey casino massacre, in which he said the US was complicit for its "insatiable" demand for drugs and should consider "market alternatives" to failed anti-drug policies. Was this a coded reference to legalization, and would this put pressure on the White House to consider the idea? Kerlikowske responded:

In fact, the U.S. has no intention of legalizing harmful substances, nor do we believe that Mexico desires this outcome. President Calderon has said consistently, and more recently in his remarks following the casino catastrophe, that he is committed to treating addiction and arresting drug traffickers. While it is tempting to think that legalization offers a "silver bullet" solution to the drug problem—despite the devastating public health dangers it would present—the facts tell us it would also do little or nothing to end criminal violence.

Excuse us? How many ways is this a bunch of disingenuous propaganda? Let's count.

1. Mexico has already decriminalized, and even legalization doesn't mean abandoning addiction treatment or not arresting "drug traffickers" when they are responsible for mass murder. 

2. Just because something isn't a "sliver bullet" doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile and necessary.

3. What "devastating health dangers" would legalization present? By removing recreational drugs from the criminal sector and making harm reduction efforts more feasible, it would likely lessen the health dangers associated with drugs.

4. What "facts tell us [legalization] would...do little or nothing to end criminal violence"? How do we have any "facts" at all about what legalization "would do", given that it hasn't been tried yet? An absurdity on the face of it. Certainly the "facts" indicate that the current policy is leading straight to hell. How bad do things have to get before we try something different?

But wait, there's more:

The groups responsible for the atrocious violence in Mexico are true poly-crime organizations, generating revenue from a wide array of illicit activities, from human trafficking to extortion to even oil theft. Last week's tragedy is a case in point: reports indicate that the attack on the casino in Monterrey was linked to an extortion operation conducted by a criminal organization that also engaged in drug trafficking and other crimes. If legalizing drugs were to magically eliminate the black market (which is doubtful given the persistence of black markets for other legal products), it would do nothing to deprive criminal organizations of their revenue from extortion and other crimes.

More disingenuous jive. The drug cartels are called drug cartels because, um, they sell drugs. The fact that they also make money from human trafficking, extortion and oil theft isn't an argument for not depriving them of their proceeds from illegal drugs. Utterly transparent.

Kerlikowske concludes: "Through the assistance provided in the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, the U.S. is supporting his efforts to ensure Mexico reaches its potential as a secure and prosperous 21st-century democracy." All we can say is—if he thinks that is the direction Mexico is headed, we want to know what he's been smoking.

Photo by prensa420


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