Drug Legalization Displays Desperation
By Judy Yoo '14
President Felipe Calderon invited legislators to participate in a debate on Mexico’s war against the drug cartels. On Aug. 3, after being entrenched by years of drug-war weariness, Calderon surprised the world by becoming the first president to open a debate on whether to legalize drugs. In response, several Latin American leaders spoke in favor of legalization both publicly and privately. Calderon’s overall willingness to listen to the opinions of others on the future of Mexico revealed the desperation of an exhausted country. Though Calderon realized the proposal could bring a surplus of drug addicts to Mexico, many politicians agreed that the proposal is not too farfetched considering the tortuous conditions many innocent civilians endure living amidst rival gang fights.

Yet Calderon’s decision was unexpected considering the recent success of the nation’s military. On July 29 Mexican troops succeeded in killing one of the Sinaloa drug cartel’s top figures during an arrest raid in Western Mexico. His death was significant for he was a pioneer in distributing huge amounts of methamphetamine for his eager customers in the United States. However, the military have yet to find Joaquin Guzman, otherwise known as “Nacho,” although it is predicted that this boss of the famous Sinaloa cartel is to be hunted.

Calderon’s decision for legalization of drugs despite the building military success could be attributed to the backfiring violence that has occurred. Killings of significant leaders led to a clear battle for succession in the cartels and an increase in turf battles. Recently, hangings occurred around the town of Cuernavaca for the control of drug trade. This outbreak was similar to that of August 2006 when it took Mexico 18 months after Arellano Felix’s arrest to calm down drug lords fighting for the best drug routes. Thus, as before, violence continued in the cities of Mexico as hacking, hanging, kidnapping, shooting and bribing became everyday occurrences.

Despite my understanding of both Calderon’s dilemma and the cost of head-to-head drug wars, I cannot help but disapprove of Mexico’s approval for the legalization of drugs. Vincente Fox, President Calderon’s predecessor, supported the production, sale and distribution of drugs, calling it a way to break down the economic structure of mafias who are making mounting profits through this lucrative trade. But with the legalization of drugs will the nation succumb to a heartless and calculative solution? I believe so. Mexico is a country ravaged by drug wars, not toppling unemployment. The moment Mexico decides to legalize drugs, this will be an indication that the immorality of both the drug users and the drug sellers are becoming acceptable: We cannot beat them, so we will inherit their power. To some, the approach of legalization may be the only logical solution in such turbulent times. However, temporary relief may only lead to dangerous consequences.

Legalization of drugs will give birth to yet another industry more immoral and shameful than that of cigarettes. Already, the cigarette industry controls the lives of over 24.8 million men and 21.1 million women in the United States. People are able to read and if not, interpret the deadly warning signs beeping off the cigarette box. However, they continue to put themselves in danger by using something that guarantees an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and lung cancer (to name a few). Illogical? Yes. So how will Mexico’s reaction to the distribution of legalized drugs be any different? Vincente Fox argued that the production and distribution of drugs would not encourage people that drugs are good. Nevertheless, even after a federal tax hike, smoking ban and social stigma, cigarette profit dropped only 10 percent by 2009. Thus, the future risks of legal drugs will also be grim. Addiction and the following consequences are only going to occur but will probably be worse. People will consider the consequences of drug use, but they will certainly not care. Mexico will have taken its first step into the dangerous pool of immorality.

Surely, it is necessary to consider the effect of drugs on the future generation. Certainly, any type of production and sale calls for tight regulations. What will it be this time — an age requirement of drug use to 30? However, any regulation really will not matter if legalization of drugs is planned to exist only in Mexico. I don’t know about the politicians, but I definitely know that if I am a drug addict living in America spending a ton of money on illegal drugs, I may as well pay Mexico a nice visit. In fact, I may make phone calls here and there to smuggle the goods in. How will anything be different?

Oh, let’s not give the excuse that the drugs are no different than the pharmaceutical drugs already being controlled in production. The dangerous consequences and addictive drugs such as heroine and methamphetamine bring to people are unquestionable. No one knows what the future may bring. Legalization of drugs may stem off the violence of today’s rival leaders. However, having children who will grow up having drugs easily accessible may be detrimental to the well-being of a whole nation.

Perhaps the best thing for President Calderon to do is to begin talks on how to stem the root of the drug war. By decreasing the United States’ demand for drugs, rival drug lords will find themselves at a loss. Continued cooperation on the part of the United States may lead American customers to become weary of demanding drugs from Mexico and find their drugs elsewhere. Creation of centers for drug treatment may stem off the number of drug addicts. Such a solution to reduce the drug war is idealistic, but often the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Issue 01, Submitted 2010-09-20 20:13:43