Thomas Bowman’s article “Buying Marijuana Supports Violent Drug Cartels and Instability in Mexico” caught my interest, because the author seems to blame the drug war exclusively on one drug, and advocates a solution that apparently overlooks the merits of an alternative solution that seems obvious to me.
Mexican drug cartels are supported by more than marijuana sales. They are a major supplier of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. Therefore, eliminating the demand for marijuana alone will not eliminate their incentive to stay in business. So why only emphasize pot in the article?
I understand why the author advocates reducing demand, since any reduction in demand for the cartels’ product offering may help weaken them. However, the article’s preferred method is idealistic and unlikely to work.
Besides failing to focus on all drugs the cartels profit from, advocating abstinence from marijuana will not eliminate demand, because many people will ignore the request. Marijuana use is well-integrated into American culture, and appears to be increasingly accepted, rather than less accepted.
Secondly, legalization would be a much more effective way to address the marijuana demand that benefits drug cartels. The government could eliminate illicit sales by legalizing, regulating and taxing the drug. However, popular support for legalization is likely to wane if abstinence were popular or framed as the only acceptable solution.
While I do not condone the use of marijuana or using drugs for any non-medical purpose, I do not think that any harm generated by legalizing pot would outweigh the benefits of removing a significant source of drug cartel profit. By contrast, I think the harm that would be produced in legalizing other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, far outweighs the benefits of legalization.
Although I disagree with the article on the points discussed above, I appreciate the author’s concern over the issue, and his effort in discussing it publicly.
JP Earnest is a non-degree-seeking student at UMW.