Should drugs be legalized? President Obama waded into the controversial debate during his visit at the sixth Summit of The Americas in Cartegena, Columbia. The President, responded to a question about the potential for legalization, a policy favored by many in Latin America as a way of alleviating the pressures of the narco war on beleaguered latin american nations. President Obama stated plainly that while he was personally against the prospect of legalization, he would be open to the debate.
The President has, on more than one occasion flirted with politically perilous topics. At times he has over-estimated the national appetite for (and discipline to sustain) the debates that are common-place in the halls of academia, from which he hales. I believe that this is yet another example of his professorial nature rearing its ugly, scholarly head. The President seems to believe that a fair discussion can be held in the open. He seems to believe that simply because he eschews cheap attacks and political opportunism that everyone else does as well. The President is wrong! Almost as soon as the President delivered his, off-hand, heavily conditional statement the internet came alive with declarations that the President is “OPEN TO LEGALIZING DRUGS”. In the truncated vernacular of the internet, nuance often goes unappreciated. If, then statements are also ignored. It was as if he never even said that he was opposed to drug legalization. Somehow we missed his argument, that legalizing drugs would make the drug problem worse. Such is our political discourse. Terse, unforgiving and sloppy!
I for one must agree with the President. Legalizing drugs would be a massive error, especially for many of the minority communities that often call for an end to the drug war. Its quite easy to understand the desire for such a policy. The number of minority men, taken into custody and remanded to absurdly long sentences for minor infractions of the law is upsetting and discouraging. We lose so many of our men and boys to incarceration that, like military families, eager to see an end to the war, we are tempted to leap toward any solution that might see our boys come home. The sad affair is blinding and the potential for it’s end is emotionally and intellectually confounding. But a clear mind would hesitate to embrace the solution of drug legalization. We do not need to debate the simple fact that crime, drug use, poverty and familial disintegration exist as a result of systemic cycles in all communities. Each of these, tends to feed the others. In order to understand why drugs should never be legalized, we simply need to understand that adding legal drugs to this cycle would only perpetuate it. Those of us that are active in our communities know how difficult it is to break these cycles. Why would anyone wish to strengthen them by creating, easily accessible and cheaper drugs.
In virtually every minority community, liquor stores occupy corners in near equal proportions with McDonalds. Despite the protests of residents, churches and activists, there is a constant, hovering temptation, capitalizing on folks that are down on their luck. As the financial pressures of depressed economies, and battered marriages conspire to culminate in life’s stress on the individual, the ever present reprieve is simply a corner away, in most minority communities. This has sunk the will power of many in our community. Now consider adding drugs to this. Consider how difficult it is to overcome alcoholism in communities with malt liquor billboards, and inescapable media campaigns. Advocates of drug legalization would have us impose these same temptations on populations that are most susceptible to their persuasion. Drugs may be common in many communities but legalization would herald a new level of availability. Of course advocates would argue that every person has to be responsible for themselves, but YOU have to live in a community with those that find themselves too weak to abstain. Its hard enough surviving in a difficult economy. Its hard enough to not perpetuate pathologies in our families. Let’s not add to that difficulty by legalizing drugs.