Pubdate: Tue, 06 Mar 2012 Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA) Copyright: 2012 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/k3oQxseR Website: http://www.newburyportnews.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/693 Author: Michael Cook, PV de Limon, Costa Rica, Formerly of Newburyport DECRIMINALIZING DRUGS THE ONLY ANSWER 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 Newburyport. Michael Cook PV de Limon, Costa Rica Formerly of Newburyport - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.