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March 2010
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Steve Chapman - Column of the Month

This really is about perfect:

An unconventional cure for Mexico’s drug violence: Legalization of marijuana is the cartels’ worst nightmare by Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune

Criminal organizations would no longer be able to demand huge premiums to compensate for the major risks that go with forbidden commerce. If the referendum passes, some 39 million Californians will have access at lower prices, from regulated domestic producers.

So the drug cartels would see a large share of their profits go up in smoke. Those profits are what enables them to establish sophisticated smuggling operations, buy guns and airplanes, recruit foot soldiers and bribe government officials. Those profits are also what makes all those efforts — and the murderous violence the merchants employ — worth the trouble.

By now, it should be clear that using force to wipe out the drug trade is a task on the order of bailing out the Atlantic Ocean with a teaspoon.

The whole thing is that good. Just go and read it.

Here’s the ending:

On a recent trip to Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Americans’ demand for drugs helps sustain the Mexican merchants and resolved to address the problem. “We are looking at everything that can work,” she said.

Well, almost everything.

The most viable option is the one that is considered unthinkable. The head of Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy has said that “legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary nor is it in mine.”

No, but failure is.

The logic is so clear that you wonder how anyone could fail to follow it… and then I read the comments and about 5 of the first 6 failed. Fortunately, saner minds followed.

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11 comments to Steve Chapman – Column of the Month

  • claygooding

    The best oped about the subject I have seen so far. I was totally convinced that no news media person was going to
    “stand up” and say the words that needed to be said.
    And even though the words are said here,everyday,it is refreshing to see it done by someone in the news media that will perhaps convince other news media that it is ok to write about ending prohibition and stopping the cash flow from this country.

  • ezrydn

    It takes a pair to stand up, and out, in today’s public media and move against the current by speaking the obvious truth. I would think that those who agree with the Drug War also agreed with Vietnam, Iraq and now, Afghanistan.

    I have to laugh when they speak of California being in a “stoner fog.” They’re just worried that it’ll infringe on the current “alcoholic fog” that prevails. They say “But, alcohol is legal.” Well, Cannabis will be, too!

    As for the cartels going away, I’m not aware of anyone in the movement that says that. Only Prohibs voice that argument. If you live on $1 per day and someone suddenly starts taking .60 out of each payment, you don’t disappear. But you’re definitely in a world of hurt. And while you can probably find a way to recoup that .60, you’ve taken a big hit in both time and money.

    When the reporter in Iraq had his head cut off, everyone worldwide was in a rage. When other countries take drastic measures against their people, the world is up in arms. However, have a few thousand Mexicans murdered and it’s “so what? They’re just Mexicans.”

    How did the United States of America become such a caring and benevolent nation?

  • Chris

    Yeah, the commenters over there are missing the point.
    “If you want to shut down marijuana make its use a felony and fine the user $100,000.”
    Did they not read the part of the article about Iran? And have they not seen studies that show that usage rates are not affected by the harshness of the law?

    “So we make it legal and can then use the freed up cops to patrol streets looking for drunk and stoned drivers. That will certainly increase once the fear of getting busted for possession ends.”

    They do that now. It’s not like it doesn’t already happen. But if they had read any study on the drug related to driving, they would know that it is less dangerous to drive high than drunk, and it would continue to not be that big of a deal. Just like marinol is fine to drive under: “Patients receiving treatment with Marinol should be specifically warned not to drive, operate machinery, or engage in any hazardous activity until it is established that they are able to tolerate the drug and to perform such tasks safely.”

    “This moron of an author wants high drivers and high nuclear reactor operators and high teachers and high doctors and high”

    I think we discussed this one the other day. It’s also stupid to state this because personal responsibility exists and won’t disappear simply because a drug is legalized. Few choose do any of those activities drunk, and when you’re high you have a better control of your actions than you do drunk still, so it’s even less likely.

    Prohibitionists literally have no sound arguments against the legalization of cannabis. They don’t even stand up to the slightest of criticism, and a scientific study or report disproving their argument can be found within minutes. It’s pathetic.

  • Chris

    “Using Chapman’s logic, then California should legalize ALL drugs because there would still be other illegal drugs for the cartels to sell.”

    It’s interesting that they’re seeing the next logical progression; legalizing cannabis will leave the cartels with other revenue sources similar to the way organized crime got into other rackets after alcohol was made legal, so next we will legalizing other drugs. They don’t see the parallels though. They can barely accept that cannabis has medicinal purposes and “isn’t that bad”, but still maintain any other drugs are so bad they must be illegal, despite that all of the aforementioned problems due to prohibition would still apply, albeit on a smaller scale.

    “And guess what, by legalizing marijuana then you will have more government bureaucracies to control and monitor it.”

    Hear that? We’ll have MORE big government bureaucracies if we legalize drugs. Because we will obviously still need the DEA and their insane budget when the CSA is scrapped. Once it is regulated, will the ATFC be breaking down your door to see if you have weed? No. Will these new agencies have a source of tax revenue to make up for their creation? Yes. I can hardly see that being worse than what we have now.

  • GUy#1

    This is good. It’s in the media’s vocabulary now at least.

  • claygooding

    “It’s interesting that they’re seeing the next logical progression; legalizing cannabis will leave the cartels with other revenue sources similar to the way organized crime got into other rackets after alcohol was made legal, so next we will legalizing other drugs. They don’t see the parallels though. They can barely accept that cannabis has medicinal purposes and “isn’t that bad”, but still maintain any other drugs are so bad they must be illegal, despite that all of the aforementioned problems due to prohibition would still apply, albeit on a smaller scale.”

    The legalization of marijuana will not remove the cartels but it will reduce their ability to buy guns and pay soldiers,plus reducing the amount of money to use for corruption. The reductions will make the battle Mexico is having with the cartels a lot less lopsided than it is now. Right now,the cartels are better armed than the Mexican Army,because they have the cash needed to buy better weapons and buy spies within the military
    and local law enforcement for the intel to stay one step ahead of the army.
    The ending of the prohibition didn’t end the mafia,but it drove them underground and reduced their power enough that law enforcement could at least keep up with them.
    And it will be the same for the cartels.
    Our only problem is that the Mexican government and apparently ours too,don’t want the green market shut down
    but want it continued and just the cartels taken out of control.
    And that is going to be expensive. Because we,the American people will have to give enough money for the Mexican army to update their weapons and for their government to start enough social programs and employment programs to replace the income people are making working for the cartels. Without the support of the people,Calderon has as much chance of removing the cartels as the DEA has of stopping people using marijuana.
    And our government’s problem is that they have to convince America that their spending all that money in Mexico is necessary to provide more jobs and social programs,while they are reducing spending on American social programs and so many people in America are out of work.

  • Paul

    If the California initiative passes, it will be a VERY important step. I have no idea what the odds are, but it will be HUGE if it passes.

    One of the most important effects, instantly effective, will be the absurd spectacle of carrying on the violent drug war in Mexico to stop MJ from getting to California…WHERE IT IS LEGAL.

    Clinton will not be able to go to Mexico and provide money and weapons for Mexicans to shoot each other over a legal product. Calderon’s term is almost up, and no Mexican voter is going to want the army running around the country doing the American’s dirty work when Washington can’t even get California to make MJ illegal.

    This measure will end the Cartel War if it passes. And that would be a mighty good thing!

  • BruceM

    I assume they meant legalization of ALL drugs, not just marijuana.

    Has “marijuana” become slang for “all controlled substances”? I hope so…

  • Just me

    The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Our officials wont admit they have a problem or the ones that do admit they have a problem act as though they dont know what it is or what the cure is.We’ve told them what the problem is. We’ll give them the cure. Its California.

  • Chris

    Link

    Wow. Probably the longest article about marijuana I’ve seen since I started following them.

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