Eric Harrington – The unseen victims of US drug policy

There is a war going on in Mexico. A war you barely hear about.


In Mexico drugs are always readily available, yet we find very little drug USE in Mexico. Pure Cocaine is readily available on the street in Columbia for pennies, yet there is very little abuse.  In 2008 drug related deaths in Mexico reached 4,300 (compared to an estimated 40,000 in the U.S.)  but the sad reality of these 4,300 deaths is that the majority did not die from abusing drugs. They died in the cross-fire of the U.S. drug war which the Mexican government has been forced to prosecute, and which has resulted in thousands of collateral dead, and a virtual state of fear for the population caught in the middle.

Juan Cedillo, European Pressphoto Aagency)

A memorial to Mexican police officers killed in Monterrey in the fight against drug cartels and drug trafficking. So far in 2008 4,300 people have been killed in drug related fighting across Mexico. (Photo: Juan Cedillo, European Pressphoto Aagency)

“It has been a fierce bloodbath,” says Felipe González González, president of the Senate public security commission and former governor of the central state of Aguascalientes. “We have more dead than you have in Iraq.” The Mexican Drug cartels grow in power and have infiltrated the Mexican Government.

The tragic truth about the US drug war is that ALL the evidence, all the actual data suggests that no matter how much money we spend, we have never made significant gains in stopping drug traffic into the U.S.  And the Mexican populace as well as those in Columbia, Peru and Bolivia are getting caught in the crossfire and living in fear because the U.S. can’t handle their drugs.  As the late great comedian Bill Hick’s said to a self-righteous reformed drug addict friend, “Why should I have to give up my enjoyment of drugs, just because people like you can’t handle your shit?”  The same is true on an international scale. The people of Mexico live in fear because we can’t handle our shit..

"Operative group 'The Zetas' wants you, soldier or ex-soldier. We offer a good salary, food and benefits for your family. Don't suffer anymore mistreatment and don't go hungry. We wont give you instant noodle soup."

A truck carrying Mexican army soldiers drives past a pedestrian bridge holding a giant banner signed by the Zetas, the enforcement arm of the Gulf drug cartel, in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, northern Mexico, on April 13. The banner reads, in Spanish: “Operative group ‘The Zetas’ wants you, soldier or ex-soldier. We offer a good salary, food and benefits for your family. Don’t suffer anymore mistreatment and don’t go hungry. We wont give you instant noodle soup.”


You see, the greatest tragedy in all this is that the U.S. Government already knew exactly what would happen when we tried to prohibit people from getting something they really want. It’s called a black market, and the U.S. had a graphic example just 80 years prior when the religious zealots in the small town U.S.A., reacting to the decadence that accompanied the big city post Industrial Revolution wealth,  pressured the government to ban the consumption of alcohol. They called it the Temperence movement and with the 18th amendment, Alchohol was made CONSTITUTIONALLY Illegal. Remarkably, there are still “dry” counties in the U.S. to this day.  (Several European countries passed Prohibition laws around the same time, including Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Hungary and Finland. All of them repealed Prohibition in less than 20 years.)


The result?  A huge black market emerged with dangerous, ruthless, extremely well armed gangsters like Dillinger, Malone,  and even Joe Kennedy Sr. (yes the Kennedy Clan’s riches originated from “Rum Running”) making millions of dollars by simply providing something the people clearly wanted.  The wealth gained from this black market during prohibition morphed the Mafia from petty street thugs pimping prostitutes and protection to multi-millionaires, and literally built the first incarnation of Las Vegas from a barren desert, with the purpose of cashing in on another wide spread prohibition… Gambling.


Ultimately, the U.S. government recognized that they were losing the “war on alcohol”, and the populace got fed up with the violence and prohibition laws were repealed, but the damage was done. The powerful mafia infrastructure was in place and they would simply move to new prohibitions to supply.


Now anyone who thinks this graphic example of the fallacy of prohibition as a social tool was lost on the Government when they started the new War on Drugs in the 80’s is very, very, naive.  It is said that when we ignore history, we are doomed to relive it, and nowhere is this more apropos than with this drug war, for the exact same results have emerged.  Not only have powerful and violent street gangs become rich and well armed in the U.S. inner cities, but the suppliers throughout South and Central America have grown into veritable armies in their wealth, power, and willingness to kill those who oppose them.  And there are MILLIONS of people throughout the Americas living in constant fear, caught in the crossfire because the U.S. can’t handle their shit.


I could also suggest that the Regan / Bush administrations started the “War on Drugs” KNOWING this would result. Knowing that by creating fear in our backyards of the evil “drug dealers” they could erode numerous hard won protections for the accused in this country.  It has been documented that some of the earliest Cocaine dealers in Hollywood in the 80’s were CIA assets generating money for the “Contra” revolutionary black ops.   Anyone who think those legal protections are only for people with something to hide are fools, for it is a slippery slope that can easily create an avalanche for ordinary, law abiding people who get caught in the paths of the powerful.  But this issue does not require such “conspiracy theories” to win the debate, for the physical proof, the historical precedents, ALL THE DATA unequivocally demonstrates that prohibition has NO UPSIDE for the populace as a whole. It only serves the ruthless gangsters who profit off of it, and the politicians who base their platforms on “fighting crime”. No better way to advance a crime fighting agenda than create more crime to fight!


Is the solution more guns, more violence, more illegal money, more “turn in your neighbor” we tip campaigns, and more destruction of legal protections and personal freedom?  It is suggested that one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result. If this is true, than the forces that support drug prohibition in this country are clearly insane, for the historical result of prohibition is very clear.  Prohibition through violence has never, and will never create anything but more violence, increased demand of prohibited substances, and a powerful, ruthless, well-armed black market.


There is only one solution to this socio/political clusterfuck.  We must legalize drugs. Period…. Yes, all of them.  Make them obtainable with a prescription; just like the myriad of legal (and of course patented) prescription drugs millions of Americans are addicted to as well.


There is absolutely no evidence that doing so will increase drug abuse.  After 25 YEARS of intensive prohibition, illegal drugs are still readily available to anyone who wants them. Far more available than pharmaceuticals.  The only answer is legalization and enforced MODERATION. Allow all drugs to be legally obtained with a prescription.  If someone abuses his prescription, as with legal drugs,. his doctor will intervene.  And yes, there will still be those who want to buy from illegal sources, having abused and lost their legal rights, but the sheer volume of demand will be so dramatically decreased by this newer, cleaner, safer, cheaper, taxable, legal source, that it will literally destroy the black markets money supply.  When people know that they can get pure, unadulterated, non-physically addicting Cocaine legally, why would they possibly buy Meth from a street hood? 


But what about the children!!!   Today it is much easier for a high school student to get illegal drugs, than legal ones.   You see a big pain-killer problem in the high schools? No way, because Pot and Meth are much easier to get through the black market.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to prosecute ANYONE who supplies ANY drug to a minor, and this should be extended to the irresponsible medical community and their fervor with hooking kids on Adderall, Prozac and numerous other EXTREMELY addictive drugs. Dylan Kliebold was on a Prosac family drug. (I spent half my grade school years in the hall for being disruptive purely because I was gifted and bored. Today they would have just put me on drugs.)  You see the real Irony is that the most addictive and dangerous drugs on the market are the legal ones, with of course the winner by far in this category, at least in terms of collateral death and violence being Alcohol.  But as long as there is a dollar to be made on a new addictive drug by Big-Pharma, you can count on the fact it will be readily available to anyone who might even remotely benefit from it, addiction be damned.  And now Big Tobacco is simply distilling cigarettes down to pills.  Even Coffee is highly addictive physically. Just quit for a few days and experience the brutal headaches that can accompany your withdrawal.  And make no mistake, continuous use of powerful psychoactive drugs  long-term (in particular SSRI type drugs) can change you.  They can alter your hormone balances permanently, so there is often no going back after extended use of these dangerous pharmaceuticals.. Read the labels, you will be shocked at the side effects they TELL YOU ABOUT. There are many more you will only hear about on the message boards. But I digress…


Maybe the greatest benefit from abolishing drug prohibition will be that it will signal the end of the reign of terror suffered under by millions of innocent people in the inner cities as well as south of the border — collateral victims in the killing fields of this failed War. 

 In addition,  while it is argueable that the threat of terrorism to the US has been dramatically exagerated since 9/11, illegal drug money is a common source of funding for Terrorists. Just ask “Poppa” Bush, or Ollie North, They know all about it.  Dry up the money, and you seriously hamper a Terrorist’s (or Contra’s) ability to act.


With the election of Barack Obama and the populaces clear cry for change, we must not allow this social travesty to go unnoticed. We must end the Drug War. We must end drug prohibition. We must create a system of tolerance, treatment and moderation.  Over 5 million American citizens are in jail today, the highest percentage per capita in the world, and over HALF of them are there for drug related charges.  Many of these people have been robbed of their lives for a victimless crime.


We MUST legalize drugs. It will be difficult at first. But in the end it will reduce drug abuse, save billions of dollars, and dramatically reduce violent crime here and abroad.


You cannot look at this issue with your emotions. The facts, if you really examine them with an open mind, demand we abolish this insane and violent war.

~ by Eric Harrington on December 26, 2008.

3 Responses to “Eric Harrington – The unseen victims of US drug policy”

  1. So true. It seems to me that asking our government to do something sane my be a waste of energy. Talk about doing the same thing over and over agin, expecting a different result applies here too.

    The first thing we need is a change in government. Support cnadidates with brains and ethics, to replace the criminals now failing in their oaths of office.

  2. I absolutely agree with you that all “street” drugs should be legalized. But monitored by doctors? I’m not sure that would work, as not all doctors are created equal.

    My beautiful 21 year-old godson committed suicide in December by hanging himself rather impulsively one morning. We later found out that he had started taking Lexipro, an anti-depressant that his doctor had given him samples of. A 2 month’s supply of samples. If you Google “Lexipro and suicide” you will discover that young people between the ages of 18-24 are alarmingly prone to sudden, unexplained suicide within the first 4-6 weeks of use, probably because of wildly fluctuating serotonin levels in the brain as the system tries to assimilate the drug. Cases of children as young as 11 years old hanging themselves while on this drug have even been reported. Writing prescriptions isn’t enough. A doctor must monitor his patients closely. If people can only get, say, cocaine with a prescription, they may try to get larger amounts than they would on the street because they can’t keep going back to their doctors for “another little taste”. This is dangerous, because it would be much easier to OD if there was a huge pile of blow sitting in your house.

    I don’t know the answer, but it bears thinking about.

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful reply… And my condolences for your loss..

    yes it is complex, yet really simple.. Monitoring by doctors is the final step, the real monitoring has to happen within the family. If the person is not handling their habit, the family calls the doctor to cut them off. The problem with Lexipro and all the other “Legal” and highly addictive drugs prescribed today is they are addictive by nature. The are not recreational. They require intense supervision because any change in dosages even just the times they are taken causes MAJOR problems.. And they are prescribed far to rountinely by Docs, and in particular to kids. But none of this changes the fact that all drugs must be legalized. Not because it will create less addicts, but because of the HUGE black market and the violence that comes with it. And yes, some addicted people when cut off will seek the black market for the drugs, but the numbers will be MUCH smaller than now, because the majority of people HANDLE their drugs. Also, in this approach the opportunity for intervention and the overall visibility of problem people will be much better with the stigma reduced and the criminal aspect removed…

    Having been exposed to the durg culture of the 80’s extensively, it is my experience that access to drugs has little to do with those who become addicted.. Some do, some don’t, those that do need easy access to treatment. Not PRISON…

    The fact is there is no obvious right way to manage access to drugs, but prohibition is historically PROVEN to be the WRONG way… Prescriptions akin to what is happening in California with Medical Marijuana appears to be the best way.. But without a medical requirement necessary.

    Thanks again,


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