Our US Federal Government stands poised to throw many millions of dollars more into the failed war on drugs. Recent headlines proclaim "Millions more to Mexico" to support its battle against the drug dealers. The officials involved on both sides of the border speak of how this increased funding will lead to victory over those cartels involved in bringing untold misery and death to our citizens by spreading their foul poisons into our society.
"Millions to Mexico" is an ambiguous term that masks one reality of our losing battle with illegal drugs. "Mexico", the stated destination for all that money, is not a lock box in some bank in the middle of Nogales. The money doesn't go to "Mexico". It goes to many individuals in several countries, all of whom have convinced those in power that they have answers to the problem.
These folks have been peddling their so-called answers for nearly forty years with no discernible results. In fact the severity of our drug problems have only increased in spite of the billions of dollars thrown at them over the past four decades.
Those who profit from the sale and distribution of illegal drugs are no worse than those who profit by waging a losing war against them. They are the opposite sides of an evil coin.
While I do not use illegal drugs, I have several close family members who have had their lives all but destroyed because of drug usage. You might expect me to be the last person to ever advocate the legalization of any illegal narcotics. However I am sensible enough to realize that when all efforts to control an activity have failed you must examine the reasons for that failure and take steps to address it.
The first step in stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country would have to be sealing the borders. This would be a major move not only in the war on drugs but also the war on terror and the problem of illegal immigration.
Our government must publicly recognize that several of our "partners" in the war on drugs are countries which derive a large portion of their gross national product from the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. Unless those revenue streams are replaced these countries can never be relied on in any real war on drugs.
On the supply side you have a hydra-headed monster that reaches into the highest realms of government and business in all the countries involved. How can any reasonable person believe that this sort of organized hierarchy can be defeated by the arrest and incarceration of a few street level dealers. Yet that is the approach favored by law enforcement in this country while recreational users and dealers at the higher levels of our society are relatively immune from any impediments to the flow of drugs in their lives.
Arresting those at the bottom of the totem pole can not achieve any lasting results in the war on drugs because there are many others waiting to take their places in the distribution network. In truth, so long as the amounts of money involved remain, cartel leaders are no harder to replace than are street level dealers. There will always be someone ready and willing to step into a vacancy no matter the level involved.
The only way to truly stop the flow of drugs is to remove the profit motive. Controlled legalization is one method and quite possibly the only one. Prior to 1937 marijuana was legal in the USA. Cocaine was an ingredient in the original Coca Cola formula while Seven Up contained lithium. Opium derivatives were once available over the counter and despite the ready availability of these now illegal substances, I don't remember reading about a massive drug problem.
The only drawback that immediately comes to mind is that, once legalized, Washington would probably tax recreational drugs to the extent that it would become profitable for smugglers to re-enter the picture.