Pubdate: Mon, 15 May 2006
Source: Monitor, The (McAllen, TX)
Copyright: 2006 The Monitor


It would not have made a huge difference in the most unfortunate
aspects of the war on drugs. But it would have been a nice gesture.

If Mexican president Vicente Fox had decided to sign a bill legalizing
personal possession of small amounts of drugs now prohibited, while
keeping sales and trafficking illegal, the violence and crime
associated with the drug trade under prohibition would have remained
in place.

But resources directed at putting low-level users in jail could have
been directed elsewhere. And the move could have sparked a serious
conversation about the wisdom of zero-tolerance prohibition as an
approach to the fact that certain drugs have harmful effects.

It seems apparent that it was pressure from the U.S. government that
in part caused Mr. Fox to reverse his position. That is an unfortunate
use of American power.

It should be obvious from the continued availability of illicit drugs
and the power and money accumulated by the most violence-prone
traffickers that strict prohibition has not stopped drug use or drug

It is long past time to consider alternatives, from policies aimed
narrowly at reducing the harm caused by drugs to outright

Mr. Fox missed a chance to jump-start this vital discussion. Too bad.