|Could Colombia do it?|
|Pres. Santos has questioned drug prohibition.|
|Less of this? Drug-fueled death in Mexico.|
So, what if what won't happen soon, actually did happen - tomorrow?
|Tax revenue: |
there'd be more of it.
Instead, Colombia would drop its prohibitions on marijuana and cocaine, while not totally legalizing them, and wait for legitimate, tax-paying businesses to start producing them.
|What to do about all those convicts?|
The big winners here: non-violent criminals and the Colombian state, which would save billions and billions of pesos it had been spending on arresting and locking up drug traffickers.
Meanwhile, however, conservative politicians world-wide would be railing against Colombia, calling it a 'narco-state' - ignoring the fact that many countries have long had huge and legal tobacco and alcohol industries - and accusing it of 'surrendering to terrorists and criminals' - even tho this policy would actually take the business away from those terrorists and criminals.
Still, Colombia would face big-time troubles as wealthy nations, led by the United States, stopped trading with it. That would devastate the other 95% of Colombia's economy which isn't drugs. And it would likely scare the other two cocaine-exporting nations, Peru and Bolivia, from following Colombia's lead.
|Suddenly legal? Photo: Reuters.|
Suddenly, lots of weak, poor and corrupt states in Central America and West Africa, would have new tax revenue which previously had disappeared into the pockets of corrupt officials.
Meanwhile, with most obstacles to the drug trade gone, cocaine and marijuana would inundate rich nations. Perhaps a few consuming nations would get sensible and decriminalize at home. But in most countries, reactionary politicians would vow no retreat and carry on the drug war at all costs - at least for a while.
|Losers from legalization: Family coca-leaf farmers.... (photo: Awesom Feature)|
|...and outlaw guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug cartels, who'd lose their monopoly on illegal drugs. (Photo: The Independent)|
|A deforested patch in the Amazon.|
Yes, some drug consumers could lose too, if lower prices caused more access and addiction. But those governments which decriminalized and taxed drugs could use their new tax revenues and law enforcement savings to combat drug abuse problems.
All in all, I suspect that drug decriminalization would bring more good than bad.
But don't expect it anytime soon.
|Coca of Colombia. (From Graffiti T-shirt shop in La Candelaria.)|
|Enjoy Cocaine (From Graffiti T-shirt shop in La Candelaria.)|
|Legalize Now!!!! Graffiti on a La Candelaria wall.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours