The Decriminalization of Drugs by Adam Kane

Drugs are stirring up violence and crime throughout Latin America, is there an alternative to this violence.

Mexican Soldiers on Patrol

The Destruction

Acapulco Mexico- February, 2015- A phone rings in the main office of a local school, a sheaf of papers at another school, and a banner is hung at an other. All convey the same message, all teacher have until October 1st to give half of their pay to a local gang called the Zetas. Cases like these are not rare, as instances such as these have almost tripled in 2004.

Extortion is a booming industry, and one of many that are created by the drug trade. Small gangs such as the Zetas are only a small fraction of the cartels that dominate Latin America. Mexico has become a death plagued country, it is now uncommon to see corpses dumped into public squares or hung off overpasses.

As for the locals, there is no way out. Cartels dominate daily life and bring fear into everybody. Cartels can demand people to work for them and if they do not, then they are typically killed. For instance 72 bodies of local Mexicans were found decomposing in an alleyway, simply because they refused to work for the local cartel. A police officer and detective who were assigned to that case turned up dead two days later.

For locals there is no way for justice, many police officers take jobs as guards for cartels in their off time, and other officers are simply scared knowing that if they uncover anything their days are limited. And now more and more gangs rely on innocent people for money typically holding up entire night clubs and restaurants demanding all their possessions.

A new cartel called the Knights Templar are considerably more ruthless than most, holding up entire theaters , and sparing no one, sometimes even threatening to take the lives of small children. For Mexicans death is a looming threat everyday.

Photo taken of Bodies being hung

The Fight

In recent years there has been a major crackdown on the drug trade as Joaquin Guzman commonly known as El Chapo, was apprehended a year ago, and current president of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto has deployed over 36,000 police and special forces to combat the growing drug trade. But it cannot just take Mexico to end this booming industry, there is a need for more resistance.

El Chapo being Arrested

The Demand

The production of cocaine which is in high demand drug in Latin America is produced mainly in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, most all countries in the Northern Region of South America. Though the place with the highest demand for cocaine is the US. The Unites States pumps almost 65 billion dollars into the cocaine trade every year.

We alone account for 76% of the world's cocaine demand.We are supplying these dangerous cartels every year, we are funding them, buying their guns, vehicles, and production plants. We are the ones fueling and creating the drug trade. Though is it necessary for us to stop?

Another seizure of Cocaine

The Motive

Many would say that violence in these Latin American countries would halt all together if the US has stopped demanding cocaine. Many experts disagree, they say that by slowing down the drug trade we would increase violence toward innocents in these Mexican towns. If these cartels main income is halted they will exploit innocent people even more. They will demand more money, more goods, and this will result in more violence.

The cocaine demand has decreased since 1980 while the violence in these local towns has spiked. 76% of the entire cocaine trade is in America, and 90% of those drugs are imported from Mexico. We as Americans must find a solution to the war we have created.

Graph of killings linked to cartel violence by region

The New Solution

Many experts say that there is one clear way to end these cartels. And that is to decriminalize drugs such as cocaine. To put one thing out of the way, there is a difference between decriminalization and legalization. To legalize is to make it legal, decriminalizing is to lower the penalty of possessing small amounts of drug such as cocaine.

Derek Rosenfeld of says that we should decriminalize drugs and offer affordable treatment. Neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart agrees, he says “most people (80-90%) who use drugs don’t go on to develop problems with them”. This will still bring money to organizations that produce cocaine, and will lessen the chance of having hazardous drugs.

There will still be a demand, maybe even a greater one, and people will not spend hard jail time for carrying a small amount of cocaine. Decriminalizing drugs such as cocaine, will boost the revenue and economy for countries such as Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru. And if cocaine is decriminalized then countries can benefit from that by putting a heavy fine on possession but not overcrowd the jails.

Towns will become safer because there will be no need to steal from others. Additionally centers should be open to treat those who have an addiction. As laws become stricter the demand becomes less and less, as people become more fearful of being caught, and those punishments.

Decriminalizing cocaine will benefit many. It will benefit locals as they do not have to be terrorized, governments can pose heavy fines and gain revenue, and it can benefit the suppliers, those that transport the goods. To conclude cartels terrorize people because they lack funds, decriminalizing drugs such as cocaine will increase the demand of drugs and lessen the exploitation of locals.

A protest against the Drug War in Washington D.C.


147,000 people have been killed because of this drug war. Towns are being torn apart, and families are being killed. All a result of the decline in the demand of drugs. Decriminalizing drugs such as cocaine will decrease the amount of violence in these local Latin towns.

The demand will increase therefore cartels will find no need to terrorize people, and loot from them since they are already making money. Additionally the US will make money by imposing heavy fines on those who are caught with a small possessions of drugs.

There have been many attempts to end this drug war. Some attempts include trying get agents to the top of these cartels and taking out the heads of these cartels. Others have been to simply arrest most low level drug dealers, in order for these drugs not to get to the public. Other attempts have been to put boots on the ground and launch massive attacks.

The war on drugs has been going on since 1971 when then President Richard Nixon officially declared a war on drugs, and since 2006 over 100,000 people have been killed. The violence is endless, and solutions have to be made. We as American people t have to end this mess that we have created for us as a nation, and the entire Latin continent.

Works Cited

Bender, Jeremy. "Nearly Eight Years Into The Drug War, These Are Mexico's 7 Most Notorious Cartels." Business Insider. Business Insider, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

"The Drug War Started 45 Years Ago Today. Here's How to End It For Good." Drug Policy Alliance. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Ingraham, Christopher. "Top Medical Experts Say We Should Decriminalize All Drugs and Maybe Go Even Further." The Washington Post. WP Company, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Image Credits

Daily Mail

Diane Diamond

The Huffington Post

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US Weekly

The Economist

Los Angeles Times

Business Insider


Created with images by RussBowling - "Puebla, Mexico"

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