Posted by | August 1, 2010 15:54 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

On the Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake recently argued vigorously for the legalization of marijuana. Hamsher made many of the arguments that those who actually do research on criminal justice policy have been making for years.

During Prohibition in the 1920’s, alcohol consumption increased dramatically, declining only after Prohibition was repealed. However, it was not just the lack of effect on consumption that made our elected officials realize that Prohibition was a terrible idea.

Prohibition sparked the rise of organized crime in this country to the point where gangsters like Al Capone were committing mass murder without fear of punishment. When the government lifted Prohibition and allowed corporations to sell alcohol legally, they starved the gangsters of their funds because the gangsters no longer held exclusive control over the supply of alcohol. This naturally led to a dramatic decrease in gang violence. Why is this historical anecdote relevant to present day border security? It’s because of what is currently going on in Mexico.

With the growing rise of gang violence in Mexico, President Felipe Calderon took Mexico’s “War on Drugs” to another level in 2006 by launching a military offensive against the drug cartels. This disastrous idea has not only led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Mexican citizens, but has also threatened the sovereignty of the Mexican government. Calderon has lost control of significant portions of the country because the heavily financed drug cartels actually have more soldiers than the Mexican army. That violence is now spilling over into our border states resulting in over 6300 murders linked to drug cartels here in the United States. Marijuana, on average, represents 60% of the revenue generated by the illegal drug cartels. Just imagine what losing that revenue would do to them if it were to be legalized.

Rather than try and tackle the very real problem of border violence by racial profiling, like Arizona is trying to do with their genius new “breathing while Latino” law, maybe we should take a lesson from history. Prohibition did not work in the 20’s, it has not worked until now, and it will not work in the future. Legalization is the best way to decrease violence on the border.

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