Thursday, July 07, 2011

the highs and the lows...,

Haaretz | The electorate in the State of California voted against legalizing the cultivation and consumption of marijuana by a majority of 53% against 47% on November 2, 2010, a decision that, in my opinion, is wrong. Legalization would have constituted an important step in the search for an effective solution to the problem of crime linked to drug trafficking that, as it was recently officially announced, has caused a chilling total of 12,000 deaths in Mexico in 2010.

This solution lies in the decriminalization of drugs, an idea which until relatively recently was unacceptable to the bulk of public opinion convinced that police repression of producers, sellers and users of narcotics was the only legitimate method for ending such a plague. The reality has been revealing what is illusory in this idea. Research has shown that, despite the astronomical sums invested, and the huge movement of funds to combat it, the market for drugs has continued to grow. It has extended across the world, creating cartels that are immensely powerful, both in military and economic terms. As we have seen in Mexico ever since President Calderón decided to take on the drug bosses and their bands of mercenaries with the army as his weapon, the cartels are able to fight state governments as equals thanks to their power, while they infiltrate state governments through corruption and terror.

The millions of Californian voters who did vote to legalize marijuana are an auspicious indicator that there are a growing number of us who think that it is time to change policies regarding drugs. The time has come to reorient efforts, from repression to prevention, cure and information, in order to end the enormous levels of crime that prohibition creates, and the havoc that drug-trafficking wreaks on democratic institutions, especially in developing countries. The cartels can pay better salaries than the state, and in this way they can neutralize members of parliament, police, ministers, bureaucrats, or even have them at their service. They can finance political campaigns and acquire media outlets that defend their interests.

In this way, they provide employment and sustenance to many professional working in legitimate industry, business and companies through which they launder their vast profits. This dependency of such a large number of people on the drug industry creates a tolerant or indifferent mood in the face of everything that the industry brings with it. That is, degradation and the collapse of the law. This is a path that leads, sooner or later, to the suicide of democracy.