Some commenters have been less than thrilled with my admiration for Calderon’s use of the term “market alternatives” as a code for legalization. Sure, in an ideal world, nobody would speak in code, and everybody would understand the full meaning of the word “legalization” and not just its political coloring. And in an ideal world there would be no drug war.
Certainly, I’m no fan of Calderon, and he’s been no friend to drug policy reform. His escalation of the violent war on drugs in Mexico has resulted in thousands of deaths and ensured that the problems that exist will be much harder to solve in the future.
Lots of former heads of state have come out in favor of legalization or some form of decriminalization. Almost none have done it while in office. Yet three times in the last week, President Calderon has suggested that the drug consuming world, if it’s going to keep consuming, needs to look at market alternatives.
There’s no doubt that “market alternatives” in this sense means legalization. When you’re talking about finding an alternative to the black market while not eliminating demand, by definition that is legalization.
I’ve been getting quite a kick out of a number of the mainstream media folks trying to deal with Calderon’s statement without their heads exploding. Some have reported his statement, along with the fact that he failed to actually define “market alternatives,” and then indicating that some analysts have said Calderon may be referring to legalization. At that point in the article you can practically see the hamster running in circles in the reporter’s head as they try to come up with some other possible meaning for “market alternatives” to balance the statement… and realize that there is none.
At this point, I believe that the term “market alternatives” has the capability of forcing an epiphany among some people. I know there are a lot of people out there who have rather lazily just gotten in their head that the entire meaning of “legalization” is something akin to “allowing potheads to smoke dope.” They just haven’t spent as much time thinking about it as we have. These are the same people who don’t realize that regulated legality isn’t an oxymoron.
Calderon’s statement makes them actually come to grips with other, importantly relevant definitions.
The more that these discussions occur, the better. Here’s a nice understanding of the term from Jesse Kline at the National Post
Using the term â€œmarket alternativesâ€ is a key choice of words. The reason organized crime has so successfully dominated the trade is the blanket prohibition on drugs, forcing the market underground. The same thing happened in the United States when alcohol was made illegal during Prohibition.
The solution to removing the criminal element from the drug trade is the same one that solved the problem with booze: legalize it. Allow drugs to be produced by private industry in a regulated environment. After all, gang violence has become more deadly than the substances theyâ€™re peddling. And we donâ€™t see beer companies shooting each other for control of distribution networks.
Exactly. Market alternatives.
Personally, I’m fighting for legalization. However, I’m happy to talk with people about market alternatives to our current disastrous market policies.