Drug reform needed in U.S. for peace in Mexico

An increasing amount of attention is being focused on the troubles experienced south of the American border in Mexico. Drug violence has escalated as the government of Felipe Calderón has sought to crack down on the drug cartels that control much of the border region.

Recently, the Globe and Mail covered the disappearance of the last police officer of the Mexican-American border city of Guadalupe. Originally a police force of 12 officers, it was decimated by assassinations and resignations. The last officer standing, Erika Gandara, patrolled the town alone. She went missing at the end of December, presumably either killed or abducted by one of the cartels. With an estimated 10,000 people killed between 2007 and 2009, Mexico is in a state of civil war.

What is saddest about this tragedy is that it is almost entirely preventable. While Barack Obama and the United States have offered laughable assistance to the Calderon government to fight the drug war, the simple reality is that the American War on Drugs is the primary culprit for Mexico’s troubles.

An estimated 60 per cent of drug activity in Mexico is marijuana smuggled from Colombia, through Mexico into the United States. Drug cartels are in a turf war to control the territory close to the American border that offers lucrative business opportunities.

A very simple policy change can be made to help ease Mexico’s plight that doesn’t involve throwing millions of dollars in a money pit to fight an endless battle against the cartels: legalize marijuana. Through legalization you will eliminate demand for illegal marijuana and choke the cartels of their revenue source along with numerous benefits to the United States that need another column to do justice.

Only with this change in policy will Mexico ever be at peace. We, however, are not holding our breath.