Are US Pot Laws the Root Cause of Mexican Drug Violence?

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 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 her husband — must be downright victorious.

To the 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.

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.

In short, 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, and expecting different results. But then again that would be insane now, wouldn’t it?

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and he is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009).

– Article from The Hill.

Watch video on YouTube

Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sinister on

    **I CAN TELL YOU ONE THING., IT STARTED WITH THE MASS MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT RUN SCHOOLS.

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DUMBED DOWN SO FAR IT IS TRUELY FRIGHTENING AND WE ARE SEEING THE EFFECTS OF AN UNEDUCATED POPULACE WHO DOES NOT HAVE THE WHEREWITHALL TO PAY ATTENTION TO THESE THIEVES IN WASHINGTON LET ALONE IN THEIR OWN TOWNS AND CITIES!!!

    THE COMMUNISTS ARE HERE IN OUR OWN FRONT YARD AND ALL WE GET ARE SOME SOUND BITES ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT HERE RAISING BLOODY HELL ABOUT GOVERNMENT EXPANSION AND TAKEOVERS OF ALL BUT THE MOST VOLITILLE INSTITUTIONS AND THOSE THAT HAVE NO CONTROLABILITY LIKE THE DRUGS AND THE PEOPLE WHO USE THEM!!!!!!
    PEOPLE WHO THINK AND USE OTHER METHODS OF HEALING ARE A THREAT TO THE GOVERNMENT RUNNING YOUR LIFE AND MAKING YOU A GOOD TAX PAYER WHO WORKS AND DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS!!!!!!!!

    GROW YOUR OWN, FREE YOUR MIND, FREE THE PLANET!!!!!!!**

    Wow, I am totally impressed with the logic and intelligence in this discussion. I just wish more peeps in your country (USA) were as intelligent. Then you guys probably wouldn’t be living that nightmare (War on Drugs) for sooo long. Anyhow, I wanted to give mad props to gstlab3 for his comment above. This is what I’ve been trying to tell the masses for sooo long. It was never about cannabis being harmful to users!!! It was always about CONTROL. If cannabis is legalized, over night beer and alcohol companies would be in big trouble financially. Furthermore, most of the jobs (prisons, judges, cops, deranged psychologists, gun producers, etc) that are DEPENDENT on weed being ILLEGAL would be unnecessary.

    And don’t be so naive to think that your government isn’t bringing in lots of cocaine to fund its ILLEGAL wars (remember Iran Contra?; read “Powder Burns” at Amazon) to destabilize 3rd World governments. It’s quick easy cash!!! And don’t forget the crooked bankers that clean (er wash) these billions of dollar$ in ill-gotten gains. It’s not like the big drug cartel kingpins have any other means of banking such large sums of money. They definitely need crooked politicians and bankers in the loop to get that cash into bank accounts in Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands, Turks & Caicos et al.
    This is why I get annoyed with small minded “citizens” who have been brainwashed by Fox, CNN and other “main” steam outlets.

    Finally, pot breaks down barriers that the “powers that be” don’t every want broken down. If tobacco or alcohol did that, they’d be illegal too. No doubt!

    Cheers!

    – Sinister

    Powder Burns book
    http://www.amazon.com/Powderburns-Cocaine-Contras-Drug-War/dp/0889625786

  2. gstlab3 on

    IT IS THE LOVE AND WANT OF MONEY THAT DRIVES THESE MURDEROUS THIEVES IN THE STREETS AND THE POLITICIANS IN THE HALLS OF WASHINGTON D.C.,

    CAN YOU SAY WITH ALL HONESTY THAT LOGIC HAS HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE WAR ON DRUGS?

    IT SURE IS’NT COMMON SENSE EITHER!!!!!!!!!

    IT’S “ALLWAYS” BEEN ABOUT THE MONEY AND THE POWER OVER THE COMMON PEOPLE.

    WITHOUT US PAYING THEIR HIGH STANDARDS OF LIVING AND LETTING THEM RUN US AROUND LIKE CIRCUS PONIES WE WOULD”NT BE HERE DISCUSSING THIS KIND OF CRAP IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

    HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!?”

    I CAN TELL YOU ONE THING., IT STARTED WITH THE MASS MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT RUN SCHOOLS.

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DUMBED DOWN SO FAR IT IS TRUELY FRIGHTENING AND WE ARE SEEING THE EFFECTS OF AN UNEDUCATED POPULACE WHO DOES NOT HAVE THE WHEREWITHALL TO PAY ATTENTION TO THESE THIEVES IN WASHINGTON LET ALONE IN THEIR OWN TOWNS AND CITIES!!!

    THE COMMUNISTS ARE HERE IN OUR OWN FRONT YARD AND ALL WE GET ARE SOME SOUND BITES ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT HERE RAISING BLOODY HELL ABOUT GOVERNMENT EXPANSION AND TAKEOVERS OF ALL BUT THE MOST VOLITILLE INSTITUTIONS AND THOSE THAT HAVE NO CONTROLABILITY LIKE THE DRUGS AND THE PEOPLE WHO USE THEM!!!!!!
    PEOPLE WHO THINK AND USE OTHER METHODS OF HEALING ARE A THREAT TO THE GOVERNMENT RUNNING YOUR LIFE AND MAKING YOU A GOOD TAX PAYER WHO WORKS AND DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS!!!!!!!!

    GROW YOUR OWN, FREE YOUR MIND, FREE THE PLANET!!!!!!!

  3. BG on

    Aything illegal that can be bought with money will provide a dealer… A pimp is a dealer that sells ass,There are dealers that sell fraudulant identifacation such as photo I.D.’s for underage drinking.

    Sometimes you have to take a step back and get a practical perspective on complicated situations before they get out of hand. That’s what legalization is about.This one is long been out of hand, making the need to correct it far more crucial.
    The drug war machine feeds off the flesh of its enemies in order to grow obese and mutate like a tumor. It’s vey existance is sucking the well being of it’s nation and the world dry, While it claims wildley to do the opposite.

    Yes, dealers will deal.If wal mart was forced to buy 100% American products, you would see MANY Wal Marts stores close…Not all, because dealers will deal.

  4. Anonymous on

    Yes indeed the “war aimed against the American people” has ruined many entire family’s and devastated whole communities. The children are hurt the most. Some of whom are forced to grow up without their father or mother, not because the parents hurt anyone or stole anything from anyone but because of marijuana prohibition. It is truly sickening and despicable 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.
    She is championing human death. She treats death as some sort of indicator of success? BUT FROM NOW ON !
    To all whom agree…Let’s all from now on call this ugly war by it’s accurate and definitive name.. in all posts and articles … pass it on .. lets go viral with this IDEA! Blog it everywhere. The “WAR ON THE PEOPLE”. Write with all your might…..every day. Right now people…sit up in your chair and write a post to a blog or article or write to congressmen or senators or anything! Just write war on the people! to refer to the war on drugs every time as the WAR ON THE PEOPLE. If we all do this, we can make ourselves heard. With this new medium the Internet!
    Let our Government officials know how the next generation feels about this war.
    Just my thoughts

  5. joebert on

    This is rather short sighted and doesn’t address the “root cause” at all. The “root cause” is that Mexico is poor and when people are poor they will often resort to violence to get and protect a means of not being poor.

    All legalization will do is force the dealers to focus on other profitable drugs. Local street dealers will be forced to start pushing these other drugs. You didn’t think that street dealers are just going to throw in the towel and get jobs at Walmart all of a sudden because pot isn’t as profitable anymore, do you ?

    Legalization doesn’t mean everyone can suddenly start selling pot stuff and have their own legal business, it means they’re suddenly going to be competing with chains the size of Walmart like they would be if they were selling sunglasses.

  6. Jim Hilsenteger on

    I believe if any “sane” individual analyzes the drug related violence in Mexico, they would conclude it is better to regulate the supply than continue with Drug Prohibition.

    So why does Drug Prohibition continue? Some possible reasons are:
    -the pharmaceutical companies prosper with Drug Prohibition (mj is a great pain killer and you can grow it in your backyard)
    -the prison guards would lose a lot of business
    -some politicians would lose a large source of graft from the Drug Lords
    -the far right religious zealots would lose their moral high ground
    -many government agencies depend on the drug war for job security
    -etc, etc, etc

    Our only hope is enough of the public educate themselves as to the damage being done with the policies of drug prohibition and demand a change. This change will not come from Politicians, it needs to come from the people.

    Jim Hilsenteger
    http://www.crackonomics.com

  7. Anonymous on

    20,000 Dead Mexicans and now people are being assassinated in their own home for having plants?
    Ridiculous and insane, with taxpayers money people are getting murdered by men with badges and guns.
    appalling, how can the government clowns say they are winning the drug war with a straight face?
    Re-instate the constitution, and get rid of the criminals in charge.
    you should not be murdered for smoking some cannabis, or be put in prison, while they release the child rapists and murderers how many child predators have murdered innocent children lately, due to lack of oversight by the probation officers, and law enforcement while they spend all their time stalking people who smoke cannabis in the privacy of their own home.