On His Way Out the Door, Mexico's President Says Maybe That War on Drugs Was Not Such a Good Idea

In a recent interview with The Economist, outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderón, whose crackdown on drug cartels was followed by a surge in prohibition-related violence that has claimed 50,000 or so lives so far, said shutting down the illegal drug trade is "impossible." Unless Americans are ready to stop using drugs, he added, they have a moral obligation to consider "market mechanisms" that would cut the cartels out of the business:

Either the United States and its society, its government and its Congress decide to drastically reduce their consumption of drugs, or if they are not going to reduce it they at least have the moral responsibility to reduce the flow of money towards Mexico, which goes into the hands of criminals. They have to explore even market mechanisms to see if that can allow the flow of money to reduce.

If they want to take all the drugs they want, as far as I’m concerned let them take them. I don’t agree with it but it’s their decision, as consumers and as a society. What I do not accept is that they continue passing their money to the hands of killers.

Calderon made similar remarks last year. But this time around, combined with last month's marijuana legalization votes in Colorado and Washington, his allusion to repealing drug prohibition seems to have made more of an impression on the Dallas Morning News, which last week editorialized in favor of "a third-way drug policy":

Momentum seems to be building around the idea of decriminalizing consumption to remove mega-profits from illicit trade....

This newspaper supports certain medical uses of marijuana, but reserves judgment on whether broader decriminalization is the right approach....

This much is certain: The war against drugs isn’t working—here or abroad. Congress and the White House owe it to Americans and our drug-fighting allies to devise more realistic marijuana policies.

I am glad to see another big-city paper (especially one published in the town where I live) question the war on drugs. But the "third way" favored by this editorial is morally incoherent and cannot accomplish its ostensible goal. If consuming drugs should not be crime, neither should facilitating consumption. And "decriminalizing consumption" cannot "remove mega-profits from illicit trade"; only decriminalizing the supply can do that. Finally, as critics of marijuana legalization are quick to point out, cannabis is only part of the black market. Although legalizing production and sale of marijuana will take a bite out of the cartels' revenue, prohibition will continue to enrich murderous thugs as long as drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine remain illegal.

Last week Mike Riggs noted that our outgoing secretary of state, unlike Mexico's outgoing president, sees no merit in legalization as a response to prohibition-related violence. Whereas last year she said we can't legalize the drug business because "there is just too much money in it" (which some might count as an argument in favor of repealing prohibition), on Thursday she said the problem is that criminals will always find something else to do. "They'll do kidnapping," she said. "They'll do extortion." So as long as kidnapping and extortion are viable ways for them to make money, why not give them other revenue streams as well?

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What, drug warriors' influence stops when someone leaves power? You know he knew all of that while in office. They all do.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's taboo to mention it while in office.

    Do so and you will be shunned! Shuuunnnned!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Does the rest of the world engage in the war on drugs only because of America? Is it a form of US imperialism?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Except for the mid-east, who would do it the same way they do alcohol prohibition.

    And maybe somewhat China, because they have that whole history deal.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Isn't hash use accepted by muslim cultures?

    I remember when the US first occupied Somalia in the early 90s, there was talk of using the military to suppress the Somalis use of Qat. I don't think that they ever did that but it was seriously discussed as a policy position.

  • Adam||

    Not really. Using Qat is mainly restricted to Yemen and the Horn of Africa (although I'm not sure about the rest of Africa really). All of the other Arab speaking countries very strongly prohibit all drugs including Qat. Most Yemenis are very careful if they bring any Qat with them when they travel because they know they being watched, due to their reputation. Usually they just bring a small pouch of the dried stuff....which isn't much fun.

  • T||

    No, there's a UN Convention on Drugs Are Bad, Mmmkay dating back to 60s in the original form which has most of the world as signatories. I doubt the rest of the world would care nearly as much if we ratcheted down our insanity, though.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Calderón just pulled what we call a "Billy Clinton":

    http://norml.org/news/2000/12/.....iminalized

  • Jordan||

    Fucking markets, how do they work?

  • Adam||

    "..Either the United States and its society, its government and its Congress decide to drastically reduce their consumption of drugs.."

    So who in the government and Congress is he threatening to spill the beans on....I smell a nice scandal brewing. Of course, my sniffer malfunctions on occasion so I could be wrong.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I think what he meant was that the government was going to start having to murder drug suspects instead of just their dogs.

  • OldMexican||

    They have to explore even market mechanisms to see if that can allow the flow of money to reduce.


    You stupid fuck! After 6 years of war, it is NOW that you're realizing this? FUCK YOU!

    And. besides, it's all bullshit. He was so happy to receive the money the American Government was giving the Mexican government ti supposedly stem the flow of "illegal" drugs into the U.S. - now that he's leaving, he feels he can say what he wants. In the meantime, how many people died due to you selling us to the hated gringos?

  • Hyperion||

    Also, if I recall correctly, the incoming administration has pretty much the same stance on the WOD, which is to continue unabated and keep those dollars flowing in.

  • Hyperion||

    We might see a time in the near future when elected officials make some discussion about alternatives to the WOD. But it will never be the only real but utterly unmentionable solution, which is to legalize all drugs.

  • sarcasmic||

    Drugs will be legal soon enough when we go through the brief period of anarchy that will follow the collapse of the world banking system and all the world governments that depend upon it.
    Then again murder will also be legal since there will be no mechanism for enforcing legislation.

  • Hyperion||

    Yep.

    It amazes me how this nannyism infects the minds of citizens even though they seem totally unaware of it.

    For instance, when I talk to a conservative or liberal who is in favor of deciminalizing or legalizing pot, and I ask them 'What about legalizing all drugs?', it's almost like I asked the unthinkable. It's as if they need to use their opposition to legalizing all drugs to balance out their support of legal MJ, so as to at least feign some semblance of nannyism, like it's a required social norm.

    Then I like to ask them, 'do you own your own body?' This always gets deer in the headlights, quickly followed by something like 'well I have children...'

  • sarcasmic||

    I ask "If hard drugs were legal, would you use them?" which gets an instant "Of course not!" to which I respond "So why do you think everyone else would?" and get that same deer in the headlights look.

    It's a moral issue. Drugs are bad because they're bad. Ask for any elaboration and all you'll get is emotion.

  • Robert||

    They get that deer look because they'd be too embarrassed to say what they really think: "The niggers will." People do tend to think themselves better than others.

  • R C Dean||

    quickly followed by something like 'well I have children...'

    "Yes, and you should be able to prohibit your children from using drugs. Tell you what, when you are my sole source of support, you can prohibit me from using drugs, too. Deal?"

  • ||

    He'll come out in favor of legalization once the warm glowing warming glow of the spotlight fades.

    Hugh's prediction was only slightly off.

  • Flemur||

    "...they at least have the moral responsibility to reduce the flow of money towards Mexico, which goes into the hands of criminals."

    Complete nonsense. They're criminals in Mexico due to Mexican drug laws. US laws have nothing to do with it.

  • Robert||

    That's true. Canadian officials did not complain that Canadian booze was smuggled into the US during US prohib'n.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Buried in the article is thisL

    "Calderon made similar remarks last year."

    The headline clearly suggested that he waited until he was "on his way out the door." Does the narrative trump reality?

  • CatoTheElder||

    we can't legalize the drug business because "there is just too much money in it"

    No, she's explaining exactly why the elites will not legalize drugs: they make too much money from prohibition.

    That, and prohibition has justified many of their usurpations of individual liberty over past several decades.

  • Robert||

    That was always the way I understood her statement. What else could it possibly mean? It's not as if all other money mmaking enterprises can't go on, but it is likely that if, say, the clothing business were illegal, the moneyed interests in it would be a major force to keep it so.

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