The forgotten war

America has always been at war. Even before our focus shifted to the “real” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s “War on Drugs” was in the news. And no one can doubt that this war, like those overseas, claims lives every year. Furthermore, the violence in Mexico points to a growing problem.

But are American politicians overlooking an obvious solution? A friend of mine sent me this graphic a few nights ago and asked if it was true.

Cartoon about Portugal's drug laws

The idea fascinated me. Did Portugal’s decision to loosen up their drug restrictions really produce such dramatic results? This article in Scientific American suggests that many of these facts are true. Although the article points to potential other factors at play – such as a global decline in marijuana use – it does suggest that Portugal’s decision to decriminalize personal drug use has been beneficial. And other countries appear to be learning this lesson and decriminalizing use, if not dealing.

So why hasn’t this idea merited more discussion among our own political elite or in our media? If legalization doesn’t lead to more usage, this should undercut a primary concern and objection. Furthermore, it seems like a partial solution to some of the tax concerns facing the country: legalizing marijuana would bring in a lot of tax dollars to our government.

Right now, Californians are preparing to go to the polls in November to vote on the legalization of marijuana use in their state. Given the results in Portugal, this seems promising. Of course, it is important to remember that the “War on Drugs” doesn’t only occur in the U.S. Mexico needs to be a part of any solution and we need to work with them to propose laws that work to our mutual benefit. Mexico appears open to listening to suggestions from other countries – we need to make sure that we are considering all of our options to really bring an end to the problems facing our countries.

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