Monday, March 15, 2010

Don't Make Me Keep Repeating Myself

So in this morning's news, three Americans were shot and killed in Ciudad Juarez.  They worked for the U.S. Consulate there.  The Washington Post says the FBI, the DEA, and other inhabitants of the alphabet soup are down there trying to figure out why.  

I can tell you why.  They got across the Mexican drug gangs somehow, that's why.  And why are the Mexican drug gangs so nasty?  Because of all the money they want to make, selling marijuana and cocaine to rich (by comparison) addicted Americans, whose country is stupid enough to consider being addicted to chemicals a crime instead of a medical problem.  Stupid enough to allow alcohol and nicotine to be sold legally to adults but to throw people in jail for a small amount of crack or Mary Jane.  The "reefer madness" folks are destroying the country of Mexico by keeping this stuff illegal here.

This isn't new information, people.  We did this before in the 1920's.  We made alcohol illegal in 1920, and in the 13 years before we came to our senses and legalized it again, the bootleg trade turned the United States into one big shooting gallery - the kind with bullets.  Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity; what does that make the "war on drugs"??  The war on booze created a lucrative black market, and the bootleggers shot up each other and everyone else in a war for control of the money.  Has the war on drugs done anything different?  No.  Then why are we still doing it?

The last time I ranted about this, it was only Al Qaeda.  ("Only" Al Qaeda!  Yikes!)  Al Qaeda is one of the biggest drug dealers in the world.  They are shooting up, in partnership with the Taliban, the entire country of Afghanistan, which we, I point out, are trying to return to civilization and the rule of law.  How are they supporting this full-scale war effort??  With the proceeds of the opium trade, which they are selling, in part, to - us.  (Some of their heroin goes to Europe, yeah; but some comes here.)  That in itself is stupid enough.  But Afghanistan is on the other side of the world.  This mess on the Mexican border, that's our neighborhood - and it's only a matter of time before we start finding beheaded corpses on American side streets.  

The only answer to this is legalization.  All of it.  Every damn mushroom, herb and chemical.  All of it legal, all of it regulated by the FDA, all of it taxed (we could use the revenue), and on sale at Walgreen's.  Or in specialty stores.  There is no profit in the drug trade if you can buy the drugs over the counter in the corner store.  After 1933 when booze was legal again, the crime didn't go away - crime never goes away completely - but the bootleggers went out of business, and it dropped way back.

Am I in favor of addiction?  Certainly not.  And it would be morally imperative for us to use some of the law enforcement dollars we'd get back, when the cops don't have to arrest everybody who has couple of joints, on education and rehab.  Is addiction good for a society?  No.  But some low level of addiction, dealt with as a medical, public health problem, would be better than what we have now.  We are one of the biggest markets for illegal drugs in the world.  If we legalize everything and regulate it, we will take the profit out of the trade. And the trade will go away if it isn't profitable. 

We'd still have problems with teenagers.  We have problems with teenagers and booze now.  That's the nature of teenagers.  But our insistence on classifying drug use as a moral failing, as a crime, instead of as a medical problem, is killing us.  In Ciudad Juarez today, it's killing us literally.


  1. That would be sensible. And it will NEVER HAPPEN. Which is depressing. There is simply too much money to be made in the prison industry and the law enforcement side of it, along with all of the political capital to be made with ever harsher penalties for drugs.

    We are screwed. Facts don't matter. They never did with this, or with most public policy debates. The GOP has elevated political form and talking points over substance to a level that makes facts completely removed from the equation.

  2. Even Bill Buckley Jr. came out in favor of legalization, for Christ's sake!

    "The English have always been disinclined to accept human nature." That's what the psychiatrist says to his Gay English patient in the movie Maurice.

    The same might be applied to Americans. The undercurrent of Puritanism runs deep in the American character, and it's stubborn. It refuses to acknowledge that the individual choice not to embrace the clean-minded, go-getter profile so cherished by capitalism is neither a form of mental illness, nor an expression of evil.

    "Reefer Madness." I can recall very vividly being shown this amusing, and dreary little film at some point in grade school--perhaps in the 7th grade? Someone hooked on marijuana or heroin was supposed to sniffle all the time--a telltale sign!

    I saw with sadness how both my parents suffered through decades of addiction to tobacco--2 packs of unfiltered Camels every day. It was a scourge on our home--and their bodies. But it was their choice, and we all lived with it. Given its power over them, I wonder whether they'd have been tempted to break the law, if nicotine addiction had been forbidden by society.

  3. Somebody says that f you change the maze on a rat it will quickly figure out the new rules. There's only animal that keeps repeating behavior that doesn't work - that would be us.