This week, Olga Sanchez Cordero, the future interior minister of incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, announced that the government is strongly considering the decriminalization of all drugs.
Sanchez Cordero said at a seminar that she has full permission from the incoming administration to do whatever it takes to stop the cartel violence in the country, and ending the drug war is at the top of the list.
"On the subject of decriminalizing drugs, Andres Manuel told me, and I quote: 'Carte blanche. Whatever is necessary to restore peace in this country. Let's open up the debate,'" Cordero said.
"What no one can deny with hard data is that, at least in the past 10 years, the Mexican government has been incapable of stopping violence and responding to it with institutional mechanisms," she added.
The steady increase in violent crime over the past few decades is directly correlated with the escalation of the drug war. As we saw during the times of alcohol prohibition, when you ban an inanimate object, you create an incentive for people to get involved in the black market distribution of that object. Since there is no accountability or means of peaceful dispute resolution within the black market, buyers and sellers are forced to resort to violence as their sole means of handling disagreements.
Eventually, this violence spills over into the everyday world and affects everyone's lives. No one could imagine Budweiser and Miller Lite in a back alley gunfight, but less than a century ago, during alcohol prohibition, distributors of the drug were involved in shootouts on a regular basis—just as drug gangs are today. Of course, all of this violence came to an immediate end when alcohol was legalized. However, it was not long before the establishment found a new crusade in the drug war, which allowed them to continue the same policy, just with different substances.
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to end the drug war within its borders, and in the short time since, the country has seen a radical improvement in their society. In regards to drugs, they actually now have less of a negative impact on society in Portugal than they did prior to the end of prohibition. There are now fewer drug-related deaths, fewer children getting a hold of drugs, and fewer people doing drugs in general.