Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why Californians Should Vote for Prop 19

In a nutshell, to keep us from destroying Mexico.

California's Proposition 19 would legalize possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. The big argument people have been making in favor is that it would generate maybe $1 billion in tax revenue in a state with a huge budget crisis.

But I would say that the strongest argument is not fiscal but moral. You can't have missed the reports of the huge wave of drug-related violence in Mexico recently. It started after Mexico decided it had to take on the cartels, lest they end up controlling the government. As a result, hundreds of Mexican cops, soldiers, politicians, journalists, and bystanders have been killed.

What is rarely mentioned is that this violence is being funded by U.S. drug consumers. And so is the corruption of a nascent democracy. Americans near the border tend to think that Mexico is the problem. No, we are the problem, and it is Mexicans who are paying the price, a very high price.

It is our obligation to stop funding the cartels; unless you think you can successfully organize a boycott of marijuana, it appears that legalization (particularly of cultivation in small quantities) is the only way to do it. According to the RAND Corporation, legalization would lower the price by up to 80%. And there goes all the fun in smuggling pot. (The lower price would increase consumption by, well, who knows? Their guess is consumption might be equivalent to levels of the late '70s. Think Jimmy Carter, not Woodstock.)

True, the cartels' product line isn't limited to pot; it also includes cocaine, meth, and so on. But according to FBI testimony to Congress:

...marijuana is the top revenue generator for Mexican [cartels]—a cash crop that finances corruption and the carnage of violence year after year. The profits derived from marijuana trafficking—an industry with minimal overhead costs, controlled entirely by the traffickers—are used not only to finance other drug enterprises by Mexico’s poly-drug cartels, but also to pay recurring “business” expenses, purchase weapons, and bribe corrupt officials. 

Not all of this money comes from California, of course. Nor would eliminating all marijuana profits to the cartels make them disappear. But they would take a big hit to their wallets, and therefore their power. We owe it to Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. There is a a corollary to this involving immigration from Mexico.

    One of the reasons why the Mexican Elites are in support of immigration to the US is that its a safety valve. The Mexican elites know that if discontented Mexicans are forced to stay in Mexico their discontent will be focused on change at home.

    Controlling illegal immigration will help Mexico.