Smoking weed fuels the death of innocents in Latin America


The great state of California has caused a firestorm with ballot measure Proposition 19, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

For many across the political spectrum,  Prop. 19 is pure goodness;  the prevention of its use is useless and the general benefit to cost ratio arguably comes out in favor of the former. Yet aside from the mild effects on the drug’s user and U.S. society, the ramifications of developed nations’ widespread consumption of marijuana are everything but mild.

Drug Cartels & Marijuana

Just this month in Tijuana,  Mexican authorities seized a record 105 ton load of marijuana, estimated to have a $70 million street value. Weed undoubtedly accounts for a significant portion of cartel profits that operate from Mexico and beyond, with some estimates stating that its percentage is as high as sixty in Mexico. Given the highly unregulated nature of the illegal drug trade, an accurate estimation is impossible to come by. Nonetheless, if you smoke weed, you are likely funding the murders of thousands of civilians throughout Latin America.

Latin American leaders ,who have stood witness to the seemingly endless waves of atrocities that the war on drugs has created, are concerned over the diverging paths of California and the Federal Government on the legal status of marijuana.

President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, strongly condemned Proposition 19:

I think they have very little moral authority to condemn a Mexican farmer who for hunger is planting marijuana to sustain the insatiable North American market for drugs.

Calderon went on:

Drugs kill in production. Drugs kill in distribution, as is the case in the violence in Mexico, and drugs kill in consumption

Calderon spared the raw facts of how much death drugs really do cause in production and distribution in Mexico: 22,700 since he took office in 2006.

Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, spoke similarly:

“how would we explain to an indigenous person on a Colombian mountain that producing marijuana is illegal and take him to jail, or destroy the marijuana, when in the U.S. it is legal to consume it?”

Santos and Calderon are justified in being concerned. Proposition 19, if passed, would create a paradox of punishment. Furthermore, the only group to clearly benefit from its passage would be the people of California.

As Santos put it, the people in California would be free from punishment for smoking marijuana yet the full force of the U.S. Federal Government would still criminalize those who produce it. And given that the production and distribution would still be illegal, a constant halo of violence would still hover over the whole process.

Some have argued that since marijuana accounts for such a significant percentage of drug cartels’ business, its legalization in California would undercut their profits and thus weaken them, alleviating the violence that is associated with the war on drugs. This argument is too speculative; even with legalization in California, weed would still be illegal for recreational use in the remaining 49 states.

The borders of states within the U.S. are the definition of porous; under Proposition 19, cartel-produced marijuana would likely still be introduced and melded with the legal market in California. Under a worst case scenario, Proposition 19 would be a boon to cartel profits; the transportation of the drug within California would be subject to less enforcement and thus it could be introduced into the market with more ease.

California’s Prop. 19 is similar to Arizona’s SB1070:  a state attempting to “solve” a deeply rooted problem–the war on drugs and immigration, respectively–that cannot be adequately addressed without a comprehensive reform from the Federal Government. Each law, if passed, would barely, if at all, scratch the surface of genuine, much-needed reform. Also, each law disproportionately places criminal punishment on less responsible actors.

Unless the Federal Government legalizes marijuana, don’t smoke it. To do otherwise is to be an accomplice to the atrocities of a war.



3 Responses to “Smoking weed fuels the death of innocents in Latin America”

  1. Lee Says:

    Sorry I’m not sure I buy your argument. You’re saying that If prop 19 passes that more people would be punished for growing outside of the us? I don’t see how it has an effect other than allowing Cali to produce and distribute within it’s own borders. If people in Cali want to do that it’s their business. It’s already decriminalized to a $100 fine carrying less than an ounce (a lot)

  2. bjohns15 Says:

    There are no argument refunds, Lee.

    No, I did not mean to say that more people would be punished outside of US with passage of Prop. 19. Rather, I’m saying people outside of the US will be punished for producing/distributing weed consumed legally by Californian residents.

  3. Lee Says:

    I agree that from an outside point of view it’s hypocritical, but That’s the strangeness between state rights and federal. Either way expect a huge backlash from the federal govt if it happens to pass.

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