quinta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2009

Why not de-criminalize marijuana use?

by Cinthia Tucker
October 7, 2009
Who knew that good old American capitalist competition could help defeat Mexican drug cartels? The Washington Post has a fascinating report today about American pot growers, whose illegal resourcefulness is giving the Mexican cartels a run for their heaping piles of money. Time was that Mexican and Columbian cartels controlled much of the marijuana trade, but not anymore.
Almost all of the marijuana consumed in the multibillion-dollar U.S. market once came from Mexico or Colombia. Now as much as half is produced domestically, often by small-scale operators who painstakingly tend greenhouses and indoor gardens to produce the more potent, and expensive, product that consumers now demand, according to authorities and marijuana dealers on both sides of the border.The shifting economics of the marijuana trade have broad implications for Mexico’s war against the drug cartels, suggesting that market forces, as much as law enforcement, can extract a heavy price from criminal organizations that have used the spectacular profits generated by pot sales to fuel the violence and corruption that plague the Mexican state.
I don’t have quite the enthusiasm for de-criminalizing marijuana that popular blooger Andrew Sullivan brings to the subject, with his series of posts, “The Cannibis Closet.” But I have long believed that the war on drugs is dumb and wasteful and perpetuates the violence it supposedly abhors. It’s also futile, as the Post’s report shows clearly.
Authorities found and destroyed about 8 million marijuana plants in the United States last year, compared with about 3 million plants in 2004. Asked to estimate how much of the overall marijuana crop was being caught in his area, Wayne Hanson, who heads the marijuana unit of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, said: “I would truthfully say we’re lucky if we’re getting 1 percent.”

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