Nice little article in Time by Aileen Teague, a Ph.D. history student, about the impact on Mexico of the U.S. war on drugs.
But here’s the key point:
And yet last yearâ€™s federal drug war budget â€” topping $25 billion â€” and the continued efforts of U.S. institutions abroad in the name of drug control, remind us that a war on drugs is still alive and well.
The current system is propped up by many different U.S. and Mexican institutionsâ€”police forces, the military, the CIA, the State Department, etc.â€”each with its own set of interests. Methodical funding cuts would have to be made alongside fundamental revisions of the roles these institutions play for real change to take place. For all of the talk of marijuana legalization and an end to the war on drugs, policies along these lines have yet to be established, let alone brought more fully into the global drug debate.
Exactly. For long-term meaningful change, it’s the budgets we hae to tackle, and there are very entrenched interests involved. I’ve been through some government budget excercises before and it’s rather amazing how hard it can be to cut agencies’ funding – it becomes a political nightmare regarding affected jobs and communities rather than being about actually spending the money in ways that provide value in terms of the larger picture.
Of course, if the DEA continues to piss off the Senate, maybe it’ll get a little easier to start making the kinds of cuts we need to make.
And it doesn’t hurt for us to raise the issue of wasteful spending on the corrupt drug war every chance we get.
Personally, when talking about fiscal implications, I prefer talking about savings from eliminating drug war wasted and corruption rather than talking about tax revenues from legalization, even though I realize that it’s the mere hint of talk about cutting budgets that gets the lobbyists who protect drug warrior jobs out of bed each morning.