Decriminalize Drugs: Talk About It

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EL PASO — There has been much media coverage about the “Drug War” going on in the United States and in Mexico with no sound solution in sight. How about taking an alternative route, and just legalize the narcotics that drug cartels profit so highly from?

That was one interpretation of a resolution recently proposed by the El Paso City Council to ask the U.S. Government to reconsider how it battles the Drug War. Our country’s campaign against the illegal drug trade has been going on for 40 years—talk about an endless war.

I think by now we understand the futility of trying to solve the problem with the same old tired strategies and ideas. The reality is that the crisis now hits us close to home (nearly 2,000 drug-related murders were reported in Ciudad Juarez last year) and is even popping up for discussion at El Paso City Council meetings. There is also currently a proposed bill titled H.B 164, pending in the Texas Legislature, that favors legalizing, or decriminalizing, medical marijuana.

This is a great opportunity to show our local elected representatives what we think about the issue. There is only one problem. We can’t discuss an issue, let alone solve it, if the issue is not addressed.

Take El Paso Mayor John Cook’s veto of a City Council proposal to at least put on the table for discussion the question of legalizing drugs as a solution to the drug war. In his veto, Mayor Cook states: “It is not realistic to believe that the United States Congress will seriously consider any broad based debate on the legalization of narcotics. This position is not consistent with community standards both locally and nationally.”

Of course it is not realistic to believe that Congress will seriously consider the legalization of narcotics if people in his position refuse to even bring it up as a discussion topic!

In a Newspaper Tree article , City Council Member Beto O’Rourke stated, “When I heard about the veto I went to his office and said, ‘What’s up?’ He [Cook] said, ‘I can’t take this into (Sen.) Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office and not expect them to laugh me out of the room.’“

Are you kidding? The Mayor of El Paso is reluctant to bring up this issue for fear of being laughed at by higher political figures? I understand that legalizing drugs is a touchy political subject, but that does not mean that it should not be addressed just because some people do not want to hear about it. This brings up another point. Why would legalization be such a bad thing?  If we are to address this logically and diplomatically we need to get rid of misconceptions about drugs and understand why they are illegal in the first place.

Illegal narcotics likemarijuana, which is just a plant, has proven to have tremendous medical benefits.

How about the use of hemp seeds to fight world hunger? (Hemp is the same as Marijuana).The hemp seed is one of the most nutritious on the planet! Countries like Australia have used hemp in times of economic despair to feed thousands of people. Hemp is Nepal’s biggest economic asset.

How about cultivating hemp on El Paso’s vast open spaces and using it in the manufacture of oils, plastics, medicine, food, etc.

After all, during WWII hemp was legalized by some states to produce items such as rope for the war effort. After the war, of course, the government criminalized it. This brings me to the question: WHY?

The answer is money. Too many industries would go out of business if hemp ruled the world. War is a business and many are making billions of dollars from the funding of the Drug War. Don’t believe me? Check out “American Drug War Economics” on youtube.

Like I said, the economic implications of the drug trade go very deep.

But we can change this if we think globally but act locally. As the City Council debates this issue, we all need to voice our opinion. Contact our City Council members, our Mayor, our state and federal representatives and tell them that as a citizen you support a broad debate about this issue. Support H.B 164. It is one step in the right direction.

It is time to seriously consider this option, consider the benefits and not just the negatives, consider whether the negatives are even really all that negative.

Compare the United States with other countries that have decriminalized narcotics, and how they have fared.

When it comes down to it, constitutionally we have the right to do what we wish with our bodies.  Remember: we each give the government its power. How can they support us if we don’t make our voices heard? Let us begin to insist on a broad and open discussion of the drug issue and the facts.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this and for speaking today at Council – you did a great job. Beto

  2. five points resident on

    many of us agree with you and the issue but not local politicians like robert o’rourke and susie byrd and the whole “paso del norte clique” and wonder about their associations to your organization.

  3. Vanessa Romero

    The association is basically that those are our representatives and we are pushing for an issue, that they also agree on, to be addressed. O’Rourke has spoken at one of our events and has been agreeable in providing assistance as a civil servant. Other than that, SSDP works for no one but the community and the people. We aren’t pawns for anyone if that is what you mean by associations. As a collective of students we are just trying to find the best solution to a problem that affects everyone and welcome anyone who wants to do the same.

  4. creo que si legalizan la droga, el problema continuaria de algun modo. lo que eh venido observando de las bandas es que ellos no respetan a un ciudadano comun, igual secuestran personas que nada tienen que ver con las drogas,(tenga dinero o no) mas bien creo que las bandas tienen otro fondo no nada mas las drogas,arruinan la vida de familias inocentes.no es justo que los ciudadanos paguen sus impuestos. lleven a cuestas los estragos de la crisis y todavia de postre, sicarios, bandas, narcos etc etc.

  5. The difference amidst amateur consumption and medical employment of marijuana begs to be noticed. Although I think that a responsible adult should have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do believe, without doubt, allowing a sick person use of a plant with a long history of medical value ought to be accepted and legal. Cannabis has a large potential as a medicine and more awareness and acceptance is necessary. In Summary, legalize it!

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