Mar 122009
 
Authors: Alex Stephens

If you’re on campus reading this, you most likely have an exam, as that can be the only reason for not being halfway to Cancun by now. Good luck on the test and try not to think about the rest of us already kickin’ it.

Oh, speaking of Cancun, if you’re planning on going there, try to avoid coming home in a body bag.

Now, more than any other time in the past decade, the drug war is raging like a wildfire across Mexico. Elementary school children are leaving class to find a dozen tongueless bodies piled up across the street. Retired generals, hired to clean up the corrupt police, are being tortured, murdered and left on the roadside by drug cartels.

According to The New York Times, the number of drug related murders has doubled in the past year.

Recently, CIA Director George Tenet warned his college-age son against going south of the border for break in an e-mail that’s being circulated around East Coast universities. Yeah, being kidnapped or shot might not make for the best break.

Here’s how we can do our part to curb the violence: Stop smoking Mexican dope! Think green, buy locally grown.

The National Drug Threat Assessment of 2005 reports that marijuana production is overwhelmingly controlled by organized crime in both Mexico and Canada — our border nations. They smuggled vast quantities of pot into the U.S. because every year it becomes increasingly more valuable.

Since organized crime — the drug cartels — runs the business, illegal foreign marijuana is in large part (I do acknowledge the smuggling of harder drugs as well) directly responsible for the grisly slayings of thousands along the border and in Mexico itself.

Back in the 1800s, organized crime made one of its first profits by counterfeiting money due to its replicable attributes and lack of uniformity in all parts of the nation. When money was standardized, the mafia no longer made bank off of it.

The same goes with prohibition when alcohol was legalized once again, organized crime stopped exploiting it. The same goes for gun laws. And, you guessed it, the same trend follows for drugs.

If the U.S. legalized the sale of marijuana, it could not only be regulated, controlled and taxed, but it would also take away one of the major sources of revenue from drug cartels, effectively making a huge dent in the cleanup of Mexico and our borders.

American farmers could grow their own quality marijuana. It would contain fewer harmful growth, chemicals, due to agricultural regulation it would undermine foreign importation and provide an excellent source of tax revenues for both the state and the Fed.

Furthermore, and this is really juicy, the legalization of marijuana would dramatically slash the cost of running our prison systems, which would ease a significant budgetary burden off our shoulders — less stoners and dealers would be arrested.

Would there be any societal consequences. Would more people be getting high? Not really, people who like to smoke are already undeterred by the law. Would children have easier access to pot? Of course they would, but since it’s already most prevalent among the high school demographic (more so than college-age, surprisingly), proper education could be taught that encourages responsible use, much like current sexual education classes.

Alcohol related death rates are soaring among high schoolers, not the fictitious marijuana-related deaths.

I know it seems like every semester the whole legalization of marijuana issue rolls around again. But given the increased violence, and the advent of spring break with students traveling south, it’s a more important debate than ever before.

Until the heralded day of pot legalization is upon us though, take it upon yourself to buy locally grown substances. While it’s still wrongfully illegal, at least you won’t be contributing to the drug war. The real one, I mean.

Alex Stephens is a senior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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