Saturday, April 14, 2012

Don't look now, but conservative Latin American leaders want us to legalize drugs . . . .

Who woulda thunk it?

An increasingly large chorus of nations - ravaged by trafficking and violence - say it's now time to re-think international drug policy. As the corrupting power of cartels grows across Mexico and Central America, and as the body count rises, legalisation needs to be seriously discussed as an alternative to militarisation, regional leaders say.
It isn't a message US President Barack Obama wants to hear when he arrives in Cartagena, Colombia, to meet 33 heads of state on April 14.
Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina, a former general during the country’s "dirty war", came to power promising an "iron fist" against delinquency. He recently called the war on drugs a failure and argued that "consumption and production should be legalised" within certain limits.
Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, and arguably Washington's closest regional ally, has called for "a new approach" that would "take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking".
"If that means legalising and the world thinks that's the solution, I will welcome it," said Santos, a former defence minister responsible for battling leftist rebels and drug traffickers in a war with massive human rights abuses. 
What's interesting here is that the traditional libertarian view ("I've got a right to do whatever I want to with my own body") is not driving this, but a more utilitarian comparative-harm view ("The evils of the violence caused by drug trafficking are worse than the evils caused by drug use/addiction").

It is a pretty simple calculus:  We now have X million number of Americans using illegal drugs.  The cost of that usage includes (a) personal/social/economic losses attributable to addiction; (b) cost of law enforcement and incarceration; (c) cost in human lives of narco trafficking both here and abroad; (d) cost of additional military force both here and abroad; (e) destablization of friendly regimes and the funneling of illicit drug profits into terrorist causes; and (f) loss of potential tax revenues that could be used to fund addiction treatment programs here at home.

Eliminating the war on drugs transfers a minimal to moderate level of risk here (a few more car accidents and overdoses, a few more people getting hooked)--read that as an increase in (a) above, countered by massive decreases in (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f).

Aside from that, I really don't think it is any of your damn business what I decide to put in my own body as long as I take precautions not to allow my usage not to endanger you directly.

1 comment:

Dana Garrett said...

I can't help but think that Colombia's interest in decriminalizing drug use and distribution stems in large part from the leftist rebel's use of the illegal drug trade to fund their revolution. Legalization would starve the revolution. I also can't help but think that the USA will resist Columbia's new position because without the pretext of helping Columbia in the war on drugs, the USA lacks a justification to keep a military presence in the region, one especially strategically close to that upstart Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.