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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cross the border to a world of drugs

Just last month, Mexico’s Senate passed a law that decriminalized small amounts of drugs for personal use in an effort to stem the flood of costly, and often unsuccessful, criminal drug prosecution, as well as to focus the efforts of law enforcement on the large producers and distributors.       

The law allows the possession of several drugs, including: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and LSD. The amounts allowed are small, generally about the equivalent of two to three uses, but the consequences could be enormous. If this whole scenario sounds familiar, it’s because it has happened before. In 2006 the Mexican Senate passed the same basic bill, but it was vetoed by then President Vicente Fox after strong opposition from American politicians. After initially supporting it, Fox changed his tune and asked for a revision to “”make it absolutely clear that in our country the possession of drugs and their consumption are, and continue to be crimes.””   

The difference now is that the current Mexican President Felipe Calderon is the one who brought this bill before the Congress. Drug traffickers that have killed thousands and whose actions even spilled into the United States have him committed to signing the bill. It is an effort, he believes, will help the military and federal officers stop or at least control the intense violence along the border.

Mexico, particularly Nogales and Puerto Peñasco, for the residents of Tucson and students at the UA, has long been an affordable destination for Americans to shop and relax. They have also, however, been a destination for underage drinkers who wish to party in a bar or club, as well as anyone with money who wants to pick up prescription drugs without the hassle of faking symptoms and convincing a doctor to prescribe something at a pricey doctor’s appointment.

It was never difficult to obtain drugs in Mexico, nor is it that difficult to obtain drugs in America, though the consequences of getting caught in either country could be enough for the average person to avoid the risk. Now, with the legalization of recreational narcotics for personal use, Mexico could see the number of drug tourists jump considerably.

The drug use among college aged student’s, 18-25, is, and has tended to be, almost double that of all the other age groups combined according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how this new law could adversely affect our college community.  However, I feel this law is progressive and can actually do a lot of good. The value of this law as a social experiment, if for no other reason, could be extraordinary.   

By legalizing drugs, the government doing so could generate boatloads of revenue from the taxation of drugs. Also, legalizing drugs would deal serious blows to terrorist organizations like the Taliban or al Qaeda, who lately are getting large portions of their revenue from the sale of illegal drugs or the ingredients needed to produce them. Perhaps most importantly, with regulation of the drug trade including the purity and potency, it would make society safer, with drugs likely more difficult to obtain than now, and would almost certainly precipitate a huge decline in violent crime.

Some things it will do for Mexico include dramatically lowering the number of man-hours and money spent on the arrest and prosecution of petty drug possession cases. According to the Associated Press, out on the thousands of arrests and searches conducted in relation to small time drug dealing or possession in Mexico, only 12-15 percent are ever even charged with a crime.

To use our country as an example, according to the FBI, there were over 870,000 marijuana related arrests in 2007 alone. Of those, almost 90 percent were only for possession of the drug. These numbers show that, since the early 1990s, marijuana arrests have nearly tripled, proving that the current policies and efforts made to prevent drug use, trafficking and sales are ineffective and represent only an incredible waste of taxpayers’ money.

Another probable benefit from the passage of this law will be to curb corruption. Corruption has long been a problem within local Mexican police forces, and the police with the proper donation could easily overlook weapon possession, small amounts of drugs or traffic violations, among other things.

This bill may curb such shady practices, but it’s not as if American college students were sweating bullets if in possession of drugs in a Mexican border or coastal city before this new law. Nor did college students fear the wrath of drug related violence, as shown by the increased tourism in Mexico during the spring break periods.     

Drug use has forever been a part of human culture, and while it may seem irresponsible of Mexico to legalize all drugs, they are at least trying to do something. Thinking outside the box may be the best way to overcome some of the problems related to drug trafficking. 

—Chris Ward is a senior majoring in English. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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