Even one of the most intolerant drug warriors sees the value of discussing legalization

We’ve talked about Calderon and his suggestions of pursuing “market alternatives” before. And at the same time we’ve noted that he is a destructive drug warrior, certainly not on the “side” of legalizers.

I think the following exchange makes it crystal clear.

Is it true that you would like to see America legalize drugs?
I can hit the criminals, I can put them in jails, I can take control of their structures, I can rebuild the social fabric. But if Americans don’t reduce the demand or don’t reduce at least the profits coming from the black market for drugs, it will be impossible to solve this problem.

So the answer is yes?
I want to see a serious analysis of the alternatives, and one alternative is to explore the different legal regimes about drugs. Even in the U.S., you can see states in which marijuana is … if that is not legal, I don’t understand what legal means. No? Marijuana has some kind of “medical” use, for instance, no?

You’re putting air quotes around medical?
It’s like the “medical” use of tequila. You have a cold, you can drink one or two tequilas. If you don’t fix the cold, at least you forget the cold, no?

Would you ever consider legalizing drugs in Mexico?
For Mexico, it will be useless to do so, because the objective is to reduce the price and the price is determined by the American market.

This isn’t a guy who sees the value in drug use, or wants legalization, or cares a damn about whether drug users are jailed. He simply sees the economic reality that as long as drugs are desired and illegal in the U.S., people will die in Mexico.

This is a fact, regardless of your views about drugs, and yet it is forbidden to discuss among the “serious people” in the United States.

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19 Responses to Even one of the most intolerant drug warriors sees the value of discussing legalization

  1. claygooding says:

    I cannot believe Calderon is even speaking to our drug warriors after the ATF sold guns to the cartels,,guns found at several shootout sites in both the US and Mexico,,
    and if he is speaking with them,,I wish I could have heard the conversation where we explained that “”deal””.

  2. LaIdeaEs says:

    Tenemos un Grupo de Communication Eterna y External

    Our job’s done!

  3. Nick says:

    “I can take control of their structures.”

    The amount of corruption among Mexican police and government officials makes me believe they already have control. Follow the money. I’m sure it leads to Calderon.

  4. Emma says:

    “For Mexico, it will be useless to do so, because the objective is to reduce the price and the price is determined by the American market.” Can someone explain what he means?

    • Pete says:


      If drugs were legalized in Mexico, it wouldn’t have much impact on the Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) because their income is heavily based on the American market. They don’t make enough on Mexican drug sales.

      If Americans legalize drugs, however, then the price will fall and be controlled by the legal market. DTO’s won’t be able to compete with a legal market in the U.S.

      • rita says:

        If drugs were legalized in Mexico, the Drug Trafficking Organizations would become Drug Producing and Distributing Organizations, presumably licensed, regulated and taxed by the government of Mexico, no? Mexico IS a sovereign state, no? (I get that I may be oversimplifying, but it must be clear to Calderon by now that our so-called “leaders” don’t give a rat’s ass about his nation or its people. If he won’t stand up for them, who will?)

        • darkcycle says:

          “If drugs were legalized in Mexico, the Drug Trafficking Organizations would become Drug Producing and Distributing Organizations, presumably licensed, regulated and taxed by the government of Mexico, no?”
          Why would the Government of Mexico license the Cartels trafficking in drugs right now, when it could license farmers and legal entrepreneurs? Why would they just hand over the profits to criminal gangs?? ….wait….that’s what they’re doing right now….never mind…

  5. Gart says:

    Calderón’s incisive reply to the last question in said interview sums up what is wrong (as in misguided, unbalanced and cynical) with the US stance on drugs:

    So, what’s your favorite American food?

  6. kaptinemo says:


    It’s been a hard road to plow in getting the (ostensibly) ‘progressive’ Websites to talk about the elephant in the living room, a.k.a. how drug policy savages minorities, wastes billions of revenue that could have been better spent, etc.

    I’ve been going to their sites for several years, making a gadfly of myself whenever I could, tweaking the ‘progressive’ sensibilities with their evident hypocrisy concerning their silence on this issue, particularly with the ascendency of ‘their’ man (admitted and unapologetic cannabis smoking) Obama and his promises to base national policy on science instead of ideology.

    It finally seems to be paying off. More and more, at these sites like Crooks & Liars, I am beginning to see the regular contributors speaking out on the issue, like this. Persistance pays off.

    Now, if more of us made our presences known at such sites…

    • Pete says:

      Good point, kaptin –

      There has been, of course, some positive action at Jane Hamsher’s FDL on occasion, and, of course, Jeralyn Merritt’s TalkLeft is strong on drug policy reform, but the progressive sites historically have been mostly silent, and more can be done to get them active in this area. I think most of them are open to talking about reform, but really don’t know what to say.

      Obviously, Glenn Greenwald is firmly on our side, although he focuses more on related civil liberties issues, and it was nice to see this strongly-worded piece at Digby’s Hullabaloo this week. Crooks and Liars and Balloon Juice seem to be fertile opportunities. dKos is also an opportunity, although posts can get lost in the static there. Haven’t seen much sense at Josh Marshall’s TPM.

      This whole area is ripe, and more and more of the progressive commenters out there are ready, so a little pump priming can be effective.

    • darkcycle says:

      I’m a little tired of the “progressive” bashing. The same timidity and patronizing to the”tough on crime” crowd goes on Left and Right.
      I would like to point out that you guys had your GWB and he fucked up monumentally.
      The Demi-god Reagan started this modern deficit mess we have, while Clinton partially cleaned up said mess, there was another Republican right behind him to screw it up worse than it was before.
      Before you go howling “They weren’t real Conservatives!!”
      I’d like to point out that the people you despise on the Left as prohibitionists aren’t real “progressives”.
      They’re politicians. Doesn’t matter what they say- they’re politicians- they lie.

      • Pete says:

        Who’s bashing progressives? This is about taking advantages of opportunities where they exist, not bashing progressives. If anything, progressives are the most fertile ground, which is why Kaptin and I were talking about the importance of getting them talking about it.

        Personally, I bash any politician who doesn’t support reform regardless of their party, and was unmerciful about bashing GWB and Walters (and supportive of everyone from Barney Frank to Ron Paul who is on our side), and look for opportunities among all political groups to motivate the individuals. I happen to think that, from the perspective of the individuals, progressives are a real potential for allies. Unfortunately, they’ve been more focused on things like abortion and gay rights than drug policy. By joining in and getting them to talk about it, we can help ourselves significantly.

      • kaptinemo says:

        To my mind, there are ‘progressives’ and then there are progressives. One talks the talk, the other walks the walk. And far too many putative ‘progressives’ have been given a free ride when it comes to this issue.

        The DrugWar is the Achille’s Heel of progressivism. It is the nullifier of the Civil Rights Movement, quietly dismantling any gains made during the period by deliberately and systematically disenfranchising minority voters via drug convictions.

        It is right in front of them, like the aforementioned elephant, trumpeting and bellowing and defecating and urinating and bashing things to splinters with its’ trunk…while they feign not seeing it. And all too often their most common defense of their behavior is ‘pragmatism’. They will tell you – usually with a condescending air – that the issue is not important enough to warrant the attention it deserves.

        Or they’ll slyly admit it does, but in order to get ‘their’ people in power to effect (holding in cynical laughter) ‘change’, the issue must never be mentioned, lest the (thoroughly predictable) epithet of “Soft on crime!” be hurled at them from conservative battlements….which would happen anyway.

        But for the sake of gaining a few polling points, to avoid the ire of nebulous and fickle ‘swing voters’ who may have prejudices on the matter, they in essence throw some of their natural allies under the bus. And so, they turn a blind eye to the glaring injustice, in Pollyanna-ish hope that, one day, ‘their’ man will really be ‘their’ man, and not the puppet of special interests.

        Well, we’ve had ‘their’ man Clinton get the pass…and on his watch, as Chief Executive, his ‘Justice’ department racked up more cannabis minority arrests than Bush the First. Then, after his term, he had the absolute nerve and gall to plead ignorance, saying he thought that cannabis had been decriminalized nationwide!

        Then we got Bush Too (not a typo). We all know what happened after that. After him, it was like a scene from the old movie Dune, where the top bad guy first uses his brutish nephew to grind his subjects into the ground, to make them cry for a savior, in order to pave the way for his smoother but no less ruthless other nephew to be supplied as that ‘savior’.

        So, we got Obama. So now, the ‘progressives’ man Obama seeks to out-do Bush Too (not a typo) in the drug prohibition department, when Mr. O admitted, unapologetically, I remind you, that he not only did inhale, but that that was the idea.

        The hypocrisy is so thick and hard it may as well be neutronium. Point this out on many of these so-called ‘progressive’ sites, and you either can hear the crickets chirping at ear-splitting decibels…or get the aformentioned lecture about political ‘maturity’. Neither of which can disguise the fact that the so-called ‘progressives’ seeking to ignore and/or lecture us are still hypocritical cowards.

  7. JDV says:

    Setting aside the morality of the government telling you what you can ingest, the war on drugs fails on a purely practical level.

  8. Duncan20903 says:

    In the “no good deed goes unpunished” category, may I introduce you to Steven A. Smith? This is an example of why it’s my personal policy to tell people that ask for a helping hand to pound sand:

    Mt. Clemens man charged after woman dies as he tried to pull car from ditch


    A Mt. Clemens man faces several charges after a woman died while he tried to help get her vehicle out of a ditch, police said today.

    Steven A. Smith, 25, is charged with possession of marijuana, driving on a suspended license and driving under the influence of drugs, resulting in the death of Debra Gonzalez, 36, of Macomb Township. Smith’s blood toxicology report revealed marijuana and controlled prescription drugs, said Chesterfield Township Sgt. Deron Myers.


  9. jesse Dziedzic says:

    Exceptionally well executed piece!!

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