Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marijuana Reform and the War on Drugs

I have seen several news and op-ed items lately that conflate marijuana legalization with "ending the war on drugs." The latest is from Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Post, which has the title "Time to End the War on Drugs" but turns out to be mostly about marijuana.

The campaign against marijuana is certainly the most ridiculous part of our drug policy -- it isn't any worse for you than whiskey, and is a lot less likely to kill you. So I support moving ahead with marijuana legalization, and think the ballot measures in Colorado and Washington are good news.

But  that is only a small part of the "war on drugs," which is mostly about cocaine, methamphetamine, and opiates. Most of our drug prisoners are in for offenses related to those harder drugs. The Mexican cartels do make money from marijuana, but it is really a side business for them and they could get along quite well without it. So legalizing marijuana will not solve the problem of bulging prisons, rampant drug violence, and untreated abuse.

Does anybody think that the US might, any time soon, legalize cocaine or heroin? I don't. In fact, I can't really imagine it. I support an approach that emphasizes treatment over prison, but I fear the war on drugs will be with us for a long time yet, whatever comes out of the legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado.

1 comment:

leif said...

they should all be legalized, with dispensaries heavily regulated and the proceeds taxed. all recipients of anything 'harder' than marijuana should receive mandatory counseling but still get the drug in order to reduce dependency-related crime.

it would make me feel better about visiting mexico, heck. i and everyone i know, want to come back with our heads still attached.

prohibitions of all sorts simply produce crime. they encourage cartels (aka gangs, mafia, whatever you want to call them) to form, and along with these centers of power always comes violence. males without another cause tend to do this.

the news will show you extreme positions about this, but as a colorado resident i can tell you it's really not creating much of a buzz among "the rest of us", even if we voted for it. most everyone makes little mention of it; everyone i speak with is quite nonchalant about it.