In The Realms Of Hungry Ghosts and Silver or Lead: The Drug War

In The Realms Of Hungry Ghosts is the title of Dr. Gabor Maté’s insightful and penetrating and daring look at addiction.

I recently read another article, this one in the New Yorker called Silver or Lead, about the devolution of Mexico into, in many parts, a so-called narco-state. The situation is dire. Something like twenty-eight thousand people have died since President Calderon took power, and announced a War on Drugs policy in line with the United States, in 2006. Ironically—is it even ironic?—so much of the drug war is fuelled by the American market for illicit drugs which, evidently, is huge. Why this is is open to countless, and necessarily varied, interpretations.

“We know very well that the drug traffickers are motivated by the demand for illegal drugs in the United States and that they are armed by the transport of weapons from the United States.”
—Hillary Clinton

But on top of 28,000 deaths, imagine the reign of terror further imposed psychologically. Entire cities—Ciudad Juarez being the most infamous—gutted by this type of warfare, with apparently limited or no success in the opposite direction.

Former (yes, again, a former President) Mexican President Vicente Fox has now piped in in what is becoming a much more common chorus:

“Legalization does not mean that drugs are good … but we have to see (legalization of the production, sale and distribution of drugs) as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits…

Radical prohibition strategies have never worked.

“Although we know that many of the deaths are criminals killed by their rivals, unfortunately there are also officials, police and innocent people who have died.”

Where it is leading, or where legalization (with intense regulation, specific to each drug depending on its nature and potency etc) would lead remains unknown. One can only hope for the better, without the attack on both innocent lives, civil rights and the enrichment of criminal enterprises. Could it be worse?

And one can only pray that if something like legalization with regulation takes places, even in certain places, these drugs don’t then become market opportunities for business and thus advertised to children, as happens with alcohol (and for decades, cigarettes). The only prohibition (okay, maybe not the only one) I definitely believe in in this war is against marketing drugs to children (or even adults, for that matter), as alcohol does, in the form of, say, athletic events always being sponsored by alcohol companies.

But hey, that’s just me.

With love and wonder,

Pete

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