Drug Law

Drug Czar: Legal Pot Won't Hurt Mexico’s Drug Traffickers

| by NORML
Under Kerlikowske's reasoning, we never should have repealed Alcohol Prohibition, since alcohol made up less than 50% of Al Capone's overall profits.

Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake has posted video of the Just Say Now! campaign delivering a legalization petition to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske.  Since the drug czar is required by law to oppose all legalization efforts, it is a bit like petitioning the Pope to bless an orgy, but it does make for some entertaining video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

(FireDogLake) This morning I joined with members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and delivered 52,000 petition signatures to drug czar Gil Kerlikowske on behalf of the Just Say Now campaign.

Daniel Pacheco, a Georgetown University student from Colombia and a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, handed the petition to  Kerlikowske at a press conference held by his office at the National Press Club.  The petition asks President Obama to end the war on drugs and legalize marijuana.

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Daniel asked Kerlikowske why he opposed legalizing marijuana, since President Calderon of Mexico has said it could be helpful in fighting the Mexican drug cartels. Kerlikowske said that since marijuana comprised such a small percentage of drug cartel profits, legalizing marijuana would not have any impact on their activity.

“I don’t think that if they lose a small part of their revenue from legalizing marijuana that they’re going to go to work for Coca Cola or Microsoft,” he chuckled.

Ha ha ha!  Oh, that jokester!  So, the idea here is that since legalizing marijuana won’t put them out of business, we should continue to subsidize part of their business?  Because our prohibition of marijuana leads to the high price Americans pay for weed they could grow themselves, subsidizing the high profits the Mexicans make on marijuana, and then our tax dollars subsidize the Merida Initiative that buys more helicopters, drones, surveillance, ammunition, and police to fight the traffickers!  We also help arm both sides of the drug war, with official grants of weapons to the “good guys” and plenty of gun shops just over the border whose guns end up in the hands of the “bad guys”.

So, since the Mexican criminals are unlikely to go to work for Coca Cola or Microsoft if we take away their puny marijuana profits, we should continue to make criminals out of Americans who smoke a joint, Mr. Kerlikowske?

Ryan Grim at Huffington Post digs deeper into Kerlikowske’s new song and dance about the “small part” of Mexican drug trafficking organizations’ profits from marijuana:

(Huffington Post) Instead of defending the principle of prohibition, Kerlikowske quibbled with Pacheco’s statistic on how much of the cartel’s revenue comes from marijuana. “The number that has been often cited in the press — 58 to 60 percent of cartel revenues comes — was introduced by ONDCP in 2006. Unfortunately, the history is that it was based on 1997 information,” Kerlikowske said. “Everyone that recognizes these cartels clearly understands that their revenues have changed a lot since 1997. There are different drugs, they are involved with different criminal enterprises, so people that continue — and we really reject trying to continue to use a number that is now 13 to 14 years old, about how much money comes from marijuana. So, we strongly believe we see significantly less than the numbers cited from 14 years ago.”

Testimony to the Senate from both the FBI and DEA, however, confirmed the 60-percent figure in 2010.

How low a percentage of overall profits must marijuana reap before it’s no longer worth taking that business from the criminals?  30%?  15%?  5%?  Suppose we were talking about crippling Al Qaeda.  Do you suppose if we discovered an easy way to reduce the funding of terrorists by even five percent that our government officials would be dismissing the idea, simply because those terrorists wouldn’t then be forced to work at Starbucks?

Nobody thinks legalizing marijuana in America is suddenly going to turn murderous torturing drug trafficking criminals into Boy Scouts.  Surely most criminals are going to be criminals and will find new criminal enterprises if we legalize marijuana… but some won’t.  Some may become the new Joe Kennedys who turn their prohibited business into a lucrative legal business.  The question is whether we want to continue to give criminals a lucrative illegal business when there is no compelling reason to do so.