The Freeman: How To End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 24, 2009

    Since 2008 more than 7,000 people, including Mexican civilians, journalists, police, and public officials, have been killed in clashes with warring drug traffickers — traffickers who US government officials allege derive 60 percent of their profits from exporting marijuana north of the border.

    So what are the Obama administration’s plans to quell these gangs growing influence and the surging violence surrounding the drug trade? Troublingly, the White House appears intent on recycling the very strategies that gave rise to Mexico’s infamous drug lords in the first place.

    In the December 2009 issue of The Freeman I propose another solution.

    How To End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War
    via The Freeman


    Americans’ support for legalizing the regulated production and sale of cannabis — an option that would not likely rid the world of cartels, but would arguably reduce their primary source of income — is at all an all-time high.

    … Predictably, critics of marijuana legalization claim that such a strategy would do little to undermine drug traffickers’ profit margins because cartels would simply supplement their revenues by selling greater quantities of other illicit drugs. Although this scenario sounds plausible in theory, it appears to be far less likely in practice.

    As noted, Mexican drug lords derive an estimated 60 to 70 percent of their illicit income from pot sales. (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.) It is unrealistic to think that cartels could feasibly replace this void by stepping up their sales of cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin—all of which remain far less popular among U.S. drug consumers. Just how much less? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey data show that roughly two million Americans use cocaine, compared to 15 million for pot. Fewer than 600,000 use methamphetamine, and fewer than 155,000 use heroin. In short, this is hardly the sort of demand that would keep Mexico’s drug barons in the lucrative lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

    Of course, it’s unrealistic to think that pot legalization would wipe out prohibition-inspired violence altogether. After all, ending alcohol prohibition in America didn’t single-handedly put the Mafia out of business (though it greatly reduced its power and influence). And it’s always possible that Mexico’s drug cartels would continue to engage in violent acts toward one another as competing factions fought over the crumbs of America’s drastically shrunken illicit-drug market.

    That said, it’s equally unrealistic, if not more so, to think that continuing our same failed drug war policies will do anything but exponentially increase the catastrophe they’ve spawned, both in Mexico and at home. It’s time to engage in a different strategy. It’s time to seriously consider legalizing marijuana.

    You are welcome to read the entire article, and provide your feedback, here.

    27 responses to “The Freeman: How To End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War”

    1. […] from: The Freeman: How To End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War Share and […]

    2. Matt says:

      Very nice. The fact is that those of us who smoke pot will continue to do so regardless of whether it’s legal or illegal. The question is who do we want to get rich off of it: cartels or corporations?

    3. Glenn says:

      I really wish the government would legalize the harmless plant, but they are making so much money off of it being illegal it probably wont happen soon. If it did, the alcohol, tobacco, and Pharm. companies would be out of billions of dollars. Plus if we stop putting people in jails and prisons..the police will have less income, and they don’t want that! They would rather put an innocent person in jail or prison to keep money in thier pockets. This country is’nt ran by the people, its ran by the government! They know cannabis coes’nt cause cancer, and that its not a gateway drug! These comercials you see putting marijuana down is paid for by the alcohol industries! They are doing so, so that it will stay illegal and they can keep killing us, and putting money in thier pockets! When are people going to see that alcohol is far more harmful and addicting than marijuana? There has’nt been 1 confirmed case of anyone dieing from marijuana. So tell me, why is alcohol and tobacco legal when they kill hundreds of thousands of people every year? I will tell you…”MONEY TALKS”! Our government is a JOKE! Land of the free my ass! Obama you need to legalize this plant that does’nt harm anyone, and quit paying for abortion clinics in other countries! Make the right choice for us the people, and you will be rewarded in the end! Keep up the good work NORML!
      Glenn O

    4. Jed The head says:

      I wonder how long and how many lives it will take for our government to realize what the better answer to this issue is?

    5. claygooding says:

      Legalization and allowing Americans to grow their own is the only way the green market will be removed,anything that continues the prohibition just underwrites the existence of criminal activities surrounding marijuana.
      No matter how many “cartels” we arrest,kill or “put out of business”,new ones will form up before the dust settles from the air,because there is just too much money in the market for it to go away.
      Even with legalization,the green market will be active,until enough people harvest their own crop,and
      stop buying marijuana.
      Prohibition is not the only reason there is a black market. Because our government has decided that by increasing the taxes and costs of tobacco,they can reduce tobacco use,and it is causing some people to quit,quit buying from America anyway. Now a black market for cigarettes exists,not because cigarettes are illegal,but just because we can get them cheaper
      from other countries.
      So when legalization occurs for marijuana,that will also be true for the green market. If the government adds too much tax,or retailers charge too much,the green market will just continue. The cartels are entrenched in our country,with distribution systems and retailers already in place.and they don’t check ID’s or care if they sell to your kids.
      The cartels are already in partnership with some of our largest financial agencies,or do you actually think they carry those billions of untaxed dollars across our borders in suitcases? And it takes a big bank to move billions of dollars,untraceable by our own
      DEA,and continue doing it year after year after year.
      It is amazing that our FBI can interdict and stop 5 terrorists from laundering $100,000.00 and the DEA can’t interdict,stop or even know which bank is laundering those billions of dollars.

    6. A rope leash says:

      I find it increasingly irritating that our government and media continue to ignore, supress, and villify anyone making any sense on any subject whatsoever.

    7. David says:

      #2 Matt

      What you say should be repeated and repeated over and over again, because it’s the bottom line and some people need to get this fact through their thick heads.

      So I’ll repeat it again as I have been doing for years…

      Legal or not, people will always use marijuana. Now, with that being said, who do you want to profit from that, the cartels or our country?

      For the past 70+ years, we’ve chosen the cartels to have all that money. I ask you, the opponents out there, why is that the wiser choice?

    8. Chris says:

      Ok, here is what I don’t get. When I was living in Howell, MI me and my friend went to Windsor, Canada for a night out at the casino’s and bars. Canadian Border Patrol were actually respectful to us. As soon as we came back to get back in the US we got detained and my car got stripped because their was “THC Residue” in my car (I didn’t have any cannabis, and it would be stupid to bring any with me) I got drilled with all sorts of questions until we were finally released. The bastards didn’t even put anything back in my car, my tools and personal belongings were strewed about all over my car. How are all these drugs getting across our border…gee maybe because the United States is actually allowing this to happen, then locking up its citizens to profit from that. This is getting ridiculous. How long is it going to take before we Americans start getting seriously pissed off and possibly start a Civil War? Is that what the Government wants? One more thing, Prohibitionists say that Legalization of Cannabis won’t do anything to undercut profits from these Mexican Drug Warriors..but who here is gonna go and buy heroin (or even buy it now for that matter) once Cannabis is legal?

      Its time to legalize, the time is NOW! I’m sick of paying to put people in jail for a personal choice.


    9. Lea says:

      Thank you a million times over Paul Armentano. I read the entire article and it is fantastic, amazing, truthful, and to the point with absolutely sane and realistic words.

    10. Mellowtoker says:

      Einsteins definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Just look to Washington to find the grand example.