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FoxNews.com: Are U.S. Pot Laws The Root Cause Of Mexican Drug Violence?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 17, 2010

    UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! Want to make sure that your members of Congress get the message that the U.S. drug war fuels Mexican violence? Then check out my commentary today in The Hill — Congress’ insider newspaper and website. Read my commentary here, and please leave feedback on their board. Your members of Congress will see it, I promise.

    It was less than one year ago when acting U.S. DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart publicly declared that the escalating violence on the U.S./Mexico border should be viewed as a sign of the “success” of America’s drug war strategies.

    Our view is that the violence we have been seeing is a signpost of the success our very courageous Mexican counterparts are having,” said Michele Leonhart, who was recently nominated by President Obama to be the agency’s full time director. “The cartels are acting out like caged animals, because they are caged animals.”

    Well, if the DEA’s chief talking head thought that some 6,300 drug cartel-related murders in 2008 was an indication of progress, one can only imagine that she believes that this weekend’s south-of-the-border killing spree — which included the murder of a pregnant U.S. official and members of her family — must be downright victorious.

    To rest of us, however, these acts are nothing short of a senseless tragedy — a tragedy made all that much more heart-wrenching because it is U.S. policy that is helping to fuel this violence.

    As I wrote last year in the commentary, “How to End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War”:

    Wire-service reports estimate that Mexico’s drug lords employ over 100,000 soldiers — approximately as many as the Mexican army — and that the cartels’ wealth, intimidation, and influence extend to the highest echelons of law enforcement and government. Where do the cartels get their unprecedented wealth and power? By trafficking in illicit drugs — primarily marijuana — over the border into the United States.

    The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy …  says that more than 60 percent of the profits reaped by Mexican drug lords are derived from the exportation and sale of cannabis to the American market. … (By comparison, only about 28 percent of their profits are derived from the distribution of cocaine, and less than 1 percent comes from trafficking methamphetamine.) … Government officials estimate that approximately half the marijuana consumed in the United States originates from outside its borders, and they have identified Mexico as far and away America’s largest pot provider.

    If the Obama administration wishes to once and for all reduce this unprecedented wave of Mexican drug-gang violence, then it needs to remove the drug lord’s primary source of income — and that’s marijuana trafficking.

    Despite 70+ years of criminal prohibition in the United States (and countless billions of dollars spent attempting to interdict marijuana at our southern border), America remains the primary destination for Mexican pot. Why? Because like it or not, Americans consume cannabis; in fact, Americans lead the world in their consumption of pot.

    According to a 2007 economic assessment, U.S. citizens spend $113 billion dollars annually to consume an estimated 31.1 million pounds of pot. According to the federal government, over 100 million Americans have used marijuana; over one in ten Americans do so regularly. In short, criminal marijuana prohibition does not, and will not, reduce demand. So then it’s time to regulate the supply.

    It is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminal enterprises and into the hands of licensed businesses, and the only way to do that is through legalization.

    Or, I suppose, we could just keep on doing what we’ve been doing.

    On Monday I joined Judge Andrew Napolitano on FoxNews.com to discuss how marijuana legalization — not increasing levels of government prohibition — would quell the violence surrounding the trafficking of Mexican marijuana. You can watch the video here.

    The Judge ‘gets it;’ let’s hope that the administration will one day ‘get it’ too.

    90 Responses to “FoxNews.com: Are U.S. Pot Laws The Root Cause Of Mexican Drug Violence?”

    1. ckdk30 says:

      I once seen a Bio On the Zetas on the History channel, not only are they highly trained ex military for mexico but it said they have so much money they will never run out ,an its funny cuz they (Zetas)are not giving up either. An it shows

    2. Rhayader says:

      This is where the Drug War has brought us: to the point where thousands upon thousands of violent deaths per year are seen as a “signpost of success”. Paul, you used the only applicable word early in your interview with Judge: “tragedy”.

      (By the way, Fox should really give Judge Napolitano his own TV show. He does fantastic work.)

    3. Mike Jones says:

      Michele Leonhart is another moron who was only appointed because she’s young and attractive. Beauty always beats brains when it comes to political office.

    4. Joshua S says:

      It’s amazing to me that even on Fox news, an organization known for having conservative views, has been running stories which promote the legalization of cannabis. It seems like legalization has gone from being a “liberal” stance to being a bi-partisan issue for many.

      This is a good thing.

      It’s unfortunate that our current President laughs at the idea of legalization, when he himself is an admitted former smoker. I hope that soon our representatives and senators will will get the bigger picture of the problems with prohibition.

    5. Fragacide says:

      Isn’t there a way to get all of us together and just say “Hey… here it is… you have this many Americans unpleased with you. You do something about it, or you’ll find a mutiny on your hands…” Heh… not sure if it’ll work, but it’s an idea… and it WOULD get our message across.

    6. Anonymous says:

      “Our view is that the violence we have been seeing is a signpost of the success our very courageous Mexican counterparts are having,” said Michele Leonhart, who was recently nominated by President Obama to be the agency’s full time director. “The cartels are acting out like caged animals, because they are caged animals.”

      Well, if the DEA’s chief talking head thought that some 6,300 drug cartel-related murders in 2008 was an indication of progress, one can only imagine that she believes that this weekend’s south-of-the-border killing spree — which included the murder of a pregnant U.S. official and members of her family — must be downright victorious.

      To rest of us, however, these acts are nothing short of a senseless tragedy — a tragedy made all that much more heart-wrenching because it is U.S. policy & stores like Wal – Mart that is helping to fuel this violence.

    7. Fragacide says:

      Thank you NORML for putting timestamps on these messages. Otherwise I would of never known.
      Happy 4:20 to NORML and ALL of it’s supporters.

    8. […] illegal, but our *food* is killing us? Or our ignorance combined with social & legal policies? FoxNews.com: Are U.S. Pot Laws The Root Cause Of Mexican Drug Violence? – Wed.17.Mar.2010 – Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy […]

    9. The Oracle says:

      Napolitano was still against legalization to give the government better control over supplying the demand in it’s own country. News of the NY ad needs to go viral in the Internet and mainstream broadcast media. The escalation of violence just across the border in Mexico is the true measure of success of cannabis prohibition, not annual surveys and not drug tests at the time of arrest. People lie on surveys left and right because someone might be able to mark the papers or get fingerprints. They can use an iodine process to get the fingerprints off the paper to find out who filled out the survey. Handwriting can be identified, and cards are marked for the cheater to identify.

      I’m telling you prohibitionists now to wake up and smell the coffee. Do you know where continued cannabis prohibition can lead? There is such a thing as peak oil, and by the same token there is such a thing as peak prohibition as measured by monetary cost and deaths.

      U.S. citizens have become death statistics on the Mexican side. When the spillover onto the U.S. side gets worse, it will be just one more splash over. The latest splashes indicate how much more powerful the Mexican cartels have become recently. There will be enormous outrage when we pass the peak cannabis prohibition line, and the Feds have to negotiate with Mexican cartel bosses for the release of kidnap victims and to negotiate ceasefire. The border is that line of sand that just can’t get crossed.

      The American people won’t put up with it.

      Americans will be screaming bloody murder. Ness would never have negotiated with Capone! Feds don’t do that. Nobody wants a clone of the FARQ on our southern border.

      Now I’m telling nicely to wake up and smell the coffee.

      When it gets worse, I’ll be saying

      Wake the fuck up! Full legalization

    10. Daniel Laffin says:

      Wow..I’m just speechless. How can someone think that more violence equals success? What is she smoking?

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