Pubdate: Tue, 06 Mar 2012
Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA)
Copyright: 2012 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company
Author: Michael Cook, PV de Limon, Costa Rica, Formerly of Newburyport


To the editor: 

After reading the column from Newburyport's school nurses regarding 
marijuana, and the story a few weeks back about the Sparhawk School 
students who visited Granada in Nicaragua, I, as someone who loves 
Central America, felt compelled to respond.

First, the letter from the nurses.

I not only disagree with their calls for a local ordinance to impose 
harsher local penalties for the possession of small amounts of 
marijuana, I would argue it is time to decriminalize the possession of 
small amounts of all drugs and to even legalize them completely, with 
the FDA determining their potency, controlling how they are 
distributed and sold, and taxing the heck out of them.

I say that because, after 40 years of Richard Nixon's "war on drugs," 
it is clear that it is the international drug traffickers who are 
winning the war.

Nowhere is that more clear than in Mexico and here in Central America.

Upward of 50,000 people, most of them innocent bystanders, have been 
murdered in Mexico since 2006 when, at the urging of the Bush 
administration, President Felipe Calderon decided to go toe to toe 
with the cartels and their foot soldiers on the ground.

Of the four most dangerous countries in the world, three are here in 
Central America: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Honduras is now the primary transit country for cocaine being moved 
from South America to the United States. The security situation has 
deteriorated to such a degree that the Peace Corps recently announced 
it was immediately withdrawing all its staff and volunteers from the 
country and suspending operations there indefinitely. Decisions 
regarding staff, volunteers and programs in Guatemala and El Salvador 
are still pending.

It's all the result of the growing power of the drug traffickers, who 
are determined to get their products to the lucrative U.S. market 
because "prohibition" makes those products obscenely profitable.

If these trends continue, it will not be long before students like 
those from the Sparhawk School will not be able to travel to this part 
of the world.

When all is said and done, the power the cartels have is a direct 
result of the profits the demand for illegal drugs inside the U.S. 
generates for organizations that are every bit as terrorist in nature 
as al-Qaida.

It is time for the United States to change its approach and attitude 
in relation to the "war on drugs."

Complete decriminalization and FDA oversight of all drugs currently 
deemed illegal in the U.S. would be a huge first step in taking the 
power away from the cartels whose murderous tactics are rapidly 
destroying the people and countries of this very beautiful part of the world.

Perhaps, it is time to begin educating young people, and many adults 
as well, about these harsh realities that they enable when they think 
buying a little "ganja" or "toot" is a cool way to liven up a party in 

Michael Cook

PV de Limon, Costa Rica

Formerly of Newburyport
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