What does the United States have to do with the Mexican drug war? More than you think. Over 22 million Americans age 12 and older use illegal drugs, and most don’t know or care where they come from. In many cases, U.S. drug addictions are fueling the drug cartels in Mexico, and contributing to the almost 50,000 people killed in drug wars over the last five years.
As Daniel Robelo, a research associate for the Drug Policy Alliance argues in the Los Angeles Times, the root cause that needs to be addressed by the U.S. is drug prohibition. He writes, “These murders are not drug-related, they are prohibition-related –– committed by cartels that were spawned by drug prohibition, that derive their power from the inflated profits of prohibited but highly demanded commodities, and that operate in an underground economy in which violence is routinely employed to resolve disputes or remove business opponents.”
Legalizing marijuana, which 50% of Americans already support according to a Gallup poll, would sharply cut into cartels’ profits and the amount the U.S. spends in tracking down, prosecuting, and jailing dealers who handle the drug. Regulation would be easier to manage and revenue could be used in education campaigns to prevent hard drug use and in the rehabilitation of addicts.