Violence sparks return to the question of decriminalizing drugs

Daylife/AP Photo

While Congress is considering major spending requests for security along the Mexican border to help curb drug violence, others are proposing a less-expensive but, some say, dangerous solution: decriminalizing drugs.

“It’s the least worst option to ending the cartel violence,” El Paso, Texas, city Councilman Robert O’Rourke told CNN in a phone conversation last week. “I thought our drug laws were silly, but you don’t realize how big of a problem you’re facing until it really gets brought home for you in your community.”

O’Rourke knows what it’s like to live in a border town gripped by drug violence. El Paso and its Mexican sister city Juarez share a street grid system, among other things.

“We feel the violence every day,” O’Rourke said. “The cartels control [Juarez], and that spills over onto the U.S. side. Decriminalizing drugs would take away a lot of the financial incentive for the cartels to kill. The violence would go down.”

The rising violence has prompted people like O’Rourke, and now Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, to examine all options.

“We are not winning the battle,” Goddard said at a congressional hearing this week in Washington. “Sixty percent of the battle is marijuana.”

He said he has called for “at least a rational discussion” on ways to take the profit out of marijuana and look at drug treatment.

“Frankly, we would have a profound impact on demand,” he said.

To O’Rourke, a rational discussion translates into an honest conversation about possible solutions to the drug war, even if that means decriminalizing drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to conclude the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure, a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

But, supporters say, legalizing drugs like marijuana also would energize a slumping economy. In California, which is billions of dollars in debt, state economists and politicians including U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez have said legalizing marijuana would pump $1 billion into the state budget.

“In 1932, people were making a big deal about prohibition ending. They asked, ‘What about the children?'” O’Rourke said. “What ending prohibition did was put guys like Al Capone out of business, and it helped our economy.”

It’s simply overdue. Marijuana use was made illegal primarily because the opportunist birdbrains in Washington weren’t collecting taxes from it – and didn’t have the backbone to face down the same sort of religious moralists who brought us the prohibition of alcohol.

3 thoughts on “Violence sparks return to the question of decriminalizing drugs

  1. Joe says:

    Legalizing marijuana & taxing it so that it’s priced at current market levels would produce a LOT of revenue … and, why not? People are gonna smoke it anyway, just like they drank during Prohibition … which made the criminals of that era rich just like marijuana’s doing now.

    It’s definitely less harmful than alcohol and probably less harmful than heavy cigarette smoking.

    Hey … Idiots! Yeah, you, Congress. Smarten up a little, will ya? Lay off your booze, hookers & prescription drugs long enough to fix this bit of stupidity, will ya?

  2. Bill says:

    Legalize marijuana will you please?

    Look, people are going to smoke it anyway legal or not.
    It DOES not lead to stronger drugs.

    Someone can get drunk but not high?
    Attach the same taxes and fees as alcohol and cigarettes. Let the government make money instead of spending it on a war we will never, ever win.

    It would put a serious dent into the Mexican drug cartels.

    All prohibition did was put drinking underground and made some people very very wealthy. Just ask a Kennedy

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