DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 166 March 23, 2000

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 166 March 23, 2000
Posted by FoM on March 23, 2000 at 17:23:09 PT
Stop The Violence By Stopping The Drug War 
Source: MapInc.
The horrors of the drug war don't seem to have much impact on reporters on the business beat. They often seem to assume that the drug war represents "business as usual," but this week a business columnist at the Dallas Morning News decided otherwise. 
After visiting San Diego, Scott Burns (in a column below) determined that the terrible violence plaguing Mexican towns on the U.S.-Mexico border is caused by drug prohibition. He also arrived at the obvious solution that seems so difficult for elected officials to understand: End the drug war. "Have the guts, as a nation, to realize that we are awash in substance abuse and that the legality or illegality of substances ranging from alcohol and prescription tranquilizers to cocaine and heroin are transitory social conventions that allow criminals to make fortunes, cost the lives of substance abusers and inflict agony on their loved ones. Do that and we can enjoy a magnificent decline in the domestic crime rate," Burns wrote. Please write a letter to the Dallas Morning News to let editors and readers know that Burns is on the right track. Thanks for your effort and support. WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFOSource: Dallas Morning News (TX) Contact: letterstoeditor ARTICLE Pubdate: Tue, 21 Mar 2000 Source: Dallas Morning News (TX) Copyright: 2000 The Dallas Morning News Contact: letterstoeditor Address: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265 Fax: (972) 263-0456 Feedback: Website: Forum: Author: Scott Burns, DMN Business Columnist Drugs Cast Shadow On Border Cities SAN DIEGO -- It's easy to think of San Diego as a sports dreamland. On the ride from Yuma, I passed huge sand dunes where dune buggies were cavorting, a mountain peak circled by strangely out-of-scale hawks that turned out to be hang gliders and parasails, a gigantic skating park and finally San Diego Bay itself, stately with sails, busy with small fishing boats. If you want to be active and outdoors, this city has got to be one of the great places in America to live. But a dark shadow looms over San Diego and reaches into every corner of America. It is from Tijuana and drugs. In the first two months of the year, according to news reports, 70 people have been killed in Tijuana, presumed victims in drug turf battles. TV news is interrupted on the day of my arrival by an announcement that Tijuana Police Chief Alfredo de la Torre Marquez was shot to death on his way to work. Ambushed by assassins with automatic weapons, his vehicle was hit by at least 100 shots. Fifty-three bullets were found in his body. Murder isn't unique to Tijuana. It is increasing along the entire border. In Juarez, Mayor Gustavo Elizondo has successfully petitioned the government of Mexico to rename the major drug cartels after their leaders instead of the city in which they operate. Overnight, the "Juarez Cartel," disappears from public reporting. Not surprisingly, the mayor was concerned with the image of his city after November's highly publicized search for mass graves. While 100 to 300 bodies were sought, "only" nine were found. Since 1993, over 200 people have disappeared in Juarez. Why is this happening? Drugs. Only the incredible money in illegal drugs can explain the rising level of violence along the border. Skeptical? Then consider this. Just west of Del Rio, after riding over the Amistad Reservoir Bridge, a single Border Patrol agent, Alex Lopez, stopped me. Mr. Lopez is part of a Special Response Team in the area. Officer Lopez was alone in a region that resembles the surface of the moon. I commented that he had a tough job. "Not so bad." He answered. "It gets exciting sometimes." I asked how it was exciting. "This is a major area for drug smuggling. A lot of stuff comes through here, and we're here to stop it." It's a tough job. You can understand by looking at a map. The U.S.-Mexico border is 2,000 miles long. Large areas of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona -- like the area between Del Rio and Langtry -- are virtually devoid of population. It is easy to cross the river and meet waiting transportation. And if you want to operate big time, you've got thousands of square miles of empty land in Texas to scrape out a airstrip. Now consider the economics of heroin in the Sierra Madre. According to Edwin Bustillos and Alan Weisman in The Late Great Mexican Border, an acre of land can support about 44,000 poppy bulbs, which can produce at least 13,200 grams of opium gum. That, in turn, will refine down about 1,320 grams of pure heroin that is valued at $80 to $500 a gram in the United States. So do the math. Depending on productivity and price, an acre of dirt in the Sierra Madre can produce a heroin crop worth from $105,600 to $2.2 million. That's a lot more than can be earned from raising cattle, hunting exotic game, farming pecan groves, citrus groves -- or even renting RV spaces. What we're talking about here is the ultimate crop, the crop that displaces (or corrupts) everything. While most of the border area struggles to leapfrog from a subsistence agricultural and mining economy to an industrial economy -- one where manufactured homes displace farmland in McAllen and RVs replace orange groves in Yuma -- the crop that beats industrialization cold is heroin. It is an irresistible force. Our "war on drugs" is a Vietnam: Whatever we spend to turn the entire 2,000-mile border into an American version of the Great Wall of China, it will not be enough to stop the movement of drugs across the border or reduce the carnage on both sides. What to do? Something radical: eliminate the profit in illegal drug traffic. Decriminalize the production, distribution and use of drugs. Disembowel criminal levels of profitability. Have normal levels of profitability by conventional companies that produce and distribute high-quality, low-cost drugs. Use taxes on drugs to support drug treatment programs for people who want to recover. Have the guts, as a nation, to realize that we are awash in substance abuse and that the legality or illegality of substances ranging from alcohol and prescription tranquilizers to cocaine and heroin are transitory social conventions that allow criminals to make fortunes, cost the lives of substance abusers and inflict agony on their loved ones. Do that and we can enjoy a magnificent decline in the domestic crime rate. We can build treatment centers instead of prisons. We might even restore millions of Americans who live in the shadow world of drugs. I did not think this way when I left Dallas and headed for Brownsville on Feb. 5. I was convinced it was the only solution by the time I left San Diego.SAMPLE LETTER To the editor: I applaud Scott Burns for looking at the facts about drug prohibition ("Drugs Cast Shadow On Border Cities," March 21). Like anyone who attempts to analyze the realities of the drug war honestly, Burns came to an obvious conclusion: The only way to stop the violence surrounding the illegal drug market is to eliminate the astonishing profits made possible by prohibition. It is well past time to end the current version of prohibition. Alcohol prohibition was lifted in the 1930s in part because people got sick of the black market violence. The same thing will happen eventually with drug prohibition. The question is how many more bodies are we going to allow to pile up before a majority demands that this madness stop? As the recent assassination of the Tijuana chief of police illustrates, anyone can become a fatality in the drug war. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared by Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist CannabisNews MapInc. Archives:
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Comment #2 posted by LSN on March 23, 2000 at 21:33:38 PT
Good point
So this guy is even advocating the legalisation of production and sales. So logically sound. Amazing enlightenment. Meanwhile many countries still couldn't grasp the human rights notion behind decriminalising personal use.
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Comment #1 posted by Freedom on March 23, 2000 at 18:49:32 PT
The Dallas Morning News?
A ray of sunshine through the rain. An amazing advance.
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