Way to go Mexico! Aside from giving us California, and delicious delicious food you have now given us something else. An intelligent and rational approach to the so called drug problem. Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent lawmakers an initiative Thursday that would give people caught with less than 2 grams of marijuana, half a gram of cocaine, 40 milligrams of methamphetamine or other drugs the choice of treatment. Those who refuse could be sentenced to up to three and a half years in prison.
Now I know drugs can be a destructive force. They kill brain cells, rot teeth, increase blood pressure and heart attack risk. They impair mental facilities, and they can cause someone to turn to violent measures to get the money to get more drugs. They should be regulated, I do not argue against that. I do, however, argue against the stiff penalties and lack of freedom where drugs are concerned. If I have some weed on me and get stopped by the police, should I automatically face stiff jail time? Yes I know drugs are illegal, and it is my choice to break the law so therefore I must face the consequences. I have no problem facing the consequences–owning up to my responsibilities as they say. But, in the case of drugs the consequences are usually unfair and unjust.
Imprisoning someone will not get them off drugs. It will make the drugs harder to get, sure, but anyone who believes our prisons and jails are drug free is fooling themselves and living in a different world. Rehabilitation is a much better option, for a couple of reasons. One, rehab takes an active approach to getting people drug free; it doesn’t just throw them in a concrete room, chide them for breaking the law, and then leave them there to languish in the throes of withdrawal as it forgets about them. Two, the only way to get someone off of drugs, and keep them off, is through a rehab program.
So we send someone to jail because they had some cocaine on them. What happens when they get out of jail? Well, unless they received some treatment while imprisoned, chances are that they will go back to using cocaine, and risk getting thrown back in jail. Stupid? Sure, but people are just people, and therefore we do stupid things all the time. Of course, rehab is no guarantee, and I suppose that as long as drugs are illegal a line must be drawn somewhere. Still, I find it refreshing to see Mexico (or any other country for that matter) trying to move that line a little bit because at least it’s a start.
I wonder, though, if the Mexican bill will even see the light of day, or be implemented. It is no secret that the Unites States government hates drugs and has spent over 38 billion dollars on it at the State and Federal levels this year alone. Mexico is close to the U.S and will most likely bow to pressures from the U.S. to incarcerate drug offenders, not send them to rehab. I hope this is not so, and that Mexico will be allowed to rule itself how it sees fit, but with the American bully attitude in full effect around the world at this moment in time, who knows?
Maybe if we in the US legalized drugs, regulating and taxing them like we do alcohol and tobacco (two of the most dangerous drugs out there, yet they are legal) we wouldn’t be in the financial crisis we are in. At the very least, we’d have an additional 38 billion dollars to spend on State and Federal programs. I know this is just a pipe dream; we cannot admit defeat in anything, and to legalize drugs now would be to admit that we’ve wasted countless amounts of money and time to fight something we were just going to give up on anyway. It’s the same reason why John McCain wants to stay in Iraq, no matter what the cost.