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Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession 640

Posted by kdawson
from the never-did-worry-much-about-the-little-things dept.
Professor_Quail notes an AP story that begins, "Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum 'personal use' amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday." An official in the attorney general's office said, "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty... for a practice that was already in place." In 2006, the US criticized a similar bill that had no provisions for mandatory treatment, and the then-president sent it back to Congress for reconsideration.
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Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:13AM (#29161005)
    Now if only the USA would follow suit and end this madness.
    • We should view this Mexican decriminalization of narcotics in light of the recent shockingly bloody drug war [csmonitor.com]. "Ever since President Felipe Calderon began the war in 2006, more than 12,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence - most of them in fighting between competing cartels."

      Calderon is a conservative politician who hates the drug business. He hates it so much that he actually unleashed the Mexican army against the drug cartel. Unfortunately for him, the cartel has tremendous firepower (

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:04AM (#29161547) Journal
        I don't know, everything I've read suggests that the average Mexicans don't like the drug cartels. Who would? They just cause violence and problems for normal people. They kill famous Mexican singers (in the case of Zayda Penya they failed the first try, then hunted her down in her hospital bed and did the job right). Who on earth really wants their town to be a battle ground for rival groups of any kind? Narcotics are no more an integral part of Mexican culture than gang warfare is of Los Angeles, or corruption is in Mexico.

        Note that Columbia used to have worse problems with drug violence, but it's largely been eliminated (and pushed into Peru and Venezuela, but that's a different story). There will always be drug trafficking as long as it is illegal, but violent powerful drug cartels are not a necessary part of that (there is nowhere in the US that we have drug violence at that level, for example).
      • by dark42 (1085797) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:22AM (#29161639)

        Except that most of the profits (thought to be more than 75%) that the drug cartels make are not from narcotics, but from cannabis. The only real way to seriously cripple the Mexican drug cartels and minimize the violence is to completely legalize cannabis (better yet, all soft, nonaddictive drugs) in the United States (where the vast majority of their market is in), and let the legal, taxed, free market steal the cartels' business. After all, what stoner would want to buy crappy Mexican schwag from shady dealers when he can get high-quality product from the local coffeeshop, or just grow it in his back yard?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Except that most of the profits (thought to be more than 75%) that the drug cartels make are not from narcotics, but from cannabis.

          Do you have sources and stats for this? I'm seriously interested, because it's the first time I've heard that these same cartels are responsible.

          From where I come from (albeit from personal experience) the majority of weed in circulation seems to come from 2 groups. Personal connosieurs that have decided that they may as well grow an entire basement full, and turn a dollar or

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @04:50AM (#29162013)

          I'd go a step further and make hard drugs prescription drugs. Go to a doc, get a receipt telling you're addicted and get your dose in the next hospital. Sure that works easier with social healthcare, but according to Obama the US are gonna get that soon anyway, can as well append that to the deal.

          Yes, a lot of addicts want to get out, but we don't have enough rehabiliation centers and drug withdrawal clinics, and since there's no money in that and it's not really something you can sell to your voters if you make it public funded ("why should I pay for their addiction"), we won't see many come into existance. So why not do the next best thing and at least hurt the ones that profit from it?

          If you want to win the war against drugs, you first of all have to cut off the bigwig dealers from money. You can't fight against the addicts and trying to weed out the little dealers isn't going to work out either. Locking up addicts and small drug dealers only makes your prisons even more to places where drugs are dealt and pushed. And small dealers are easily replaced, for every small dealer locked up 10 are stepping up and hoping to move in on their turf. And of course you can't lock up the big dealers because they are almost untouchable, either not in your country or so far removed from the actual deals that you can't pin the drugs to them.

          You want to win that war? Hit where it hurts, at the wallet of the bigshots. To do this, all you have to do is offer the addicts a cheap, reliable and clean alternative to the expensive, uncalculable and usually adulterated drugs they have to get in a shady back alley. What addict would not use your government issue drugs? Drugs aren't expensive to make. Especially if you can manufacture them in a wholesale fashion. They get expensive due to the risk associated with them and the amount of middlemen involved.

          Cut their money supply. Bleed them dry. And you'll see that war is over before long. Instantly you will see a sharp drop in money related crimes because addicts no longer need huge amounts of money to supply themselves. At the same time a lot of the resources currently wasted on monitoring and fighting drug trafficking and dealing will be free to be used in other, more beneficial ways. In the end we might even have enough money to put more addicts that want out on withdrawal and give them a chance to find their way back into society.

          The current 'war' will only lead to more crime, more people in prison and more money being wasted to fight those crimes and monitor those prisoners. How the hell does that help me, make me safer or protect me from drugs? Because so far, I can't see a shortage in any kind of drugs, even after decades of 'war'.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @07:15AM (#29162485)

            This brings up a point that the self-proclaimed "drug warriors" don't like to think about: essentially every street drug is available to people IN PRISON. Read another way, it means that even if the entire country was run like a prison - there would still be a drug "problem". Just exactly how far are people willing to go to enforce these laws?

          • by Redgiemental (1623289) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @07:58AM (#29162645)
            I agree with most of what you say. However you seem to be operating under the illusion that all drug users are addicts. This is simply untrue. In the same way that most people that drink alcohol aren't alcoholics most drug users aren't addicts.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lwsimon (724555)

            I disagree with your assessment of socialized medicine, but your analysis is essentially sound. Instead of the government manufacturing drugs, though, I'd propose that you simply decriminalize the drugs completely. If you get Merck and GSK turning out high-quality (read: lower risk) drugs, available by prescription, you've solved the problem without expanding the power of government.

            From my perspective, the "war on drugs" has been one of the biggest mistakes in American history. Many of our essential fre

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            That's what happened after alcohol prohibition. You don't see ganng wars over alcohol any more, you don't have people going blind or dead from drinking wood alcohol like you did during prohibition, you don't see violence in the alcohol trade, and you don't see the bribery and corruption that is always present with victimless crimes.

            The laws against drugs (and other victimless crimes as well) actually cause the problems they're supposed to solve.

      • by XDirtypunkX (1290358) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:27AM (#29161669)

        Or maybe he thinks that decriminalization will reduce the street prices for the drugs. Decriminalization means that the lower tiers of the distribution network and the using individuals carry less risk, which means easier access, which should mean lower street prices and more competition based on quality. In the end, that's going to mean less money for the cartels.

      • by MadUndergrad (950779) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:31AM (#29161677)

        Decriminalization in Mexico won't help Mexico much, since their main drug business is involved with bringing them to the US. The US doing anything to make it easier for local growers than smugglers would actually help Mexico more, since the cartels would lose their economic incentive to do their business.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          Decriminalization in Mexico won't help Mexico much, since their main drug business is involved with bringing them to the US. The US doing anything to make it easier for local growers than smugglers would actually help Mexico more, since the cartels would lose their economic incentive to do their business.

          Absolutely. It is interesting to note that this huge increase in violence in Mexico corresponds pretty well with the federal regulations restricting the purchase of pseudofed in the USA. For those of you haven't had a cold in the last few years if you want to buy pseudofed its now semi-behind-the-counter, you don't need a prescription but you do have to give up all kinds of personal information to the pharmacy who will report it to the feds and stash it away in their own databases for who knows what uses

      • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:46AM (#29161753) Homepage Journal

        I have read a post some time ago detailing how legalizing some drugs can effectively stop criminality. I think it was mostly about cannabis. Think about it, drugs finance huge businesses:
          - Gangs
          - Terrorist cells, Al Kaida
          - dictatorships such as North Korea (I read some days ago)
        Imagine the huge effects that it would have if these would run out of money -> No new weapons -> Losing importance -> Dictatorships can be overthrown.

        Maybe I am thinking too blue-eyed, but it is a lot of money. Stopping the money flow at the source could have global consequences. We tried stopping the drug users from using.

      • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @05:58AM (#29162245)

        The firepower the cartels wield is not smuggled in from the US. 87% of the firearms Mexico asks the ATF to locate, are traced to the US -- but they only request that sort of thing on a small percent of the firearms they seize, 10%-ish I believe. Basically, they only request it when they have reason to believe the guns came from the US.

        The M16s? The grenades? Those aren't being smuggled across the border unless the government is doing it. They're not, incidentally, most those sorts of things are sold to the cartels from the Mexican army (yay for corruption!). AKs and other soviet weaponry obviously is a lot easier to find on black markets, and that's not smuggled from the US either.

        When you're making the kind of money the cartels were, you're not going out and buying semi-autos or hunting rifles, you're buying military hardware. And you don't buy that sort of thing in the US.
        Other than that, though, yep. Clearly has something to do with the violence that's been going on down there, whether or not it works I think depends on how splintered the cartels actually are. Honestly would not be surprised if only certain cartels were targetted -- it's happened before, but I believe that involved police and not the mexican miltary.

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:29AM (#29161387)
      It's time for SANE drug laws. No Jail For Pot [nojailforpot.com]
    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:05PM (#29164035)

      Puritanical moralists and Bible Thumpers ensure that the current punitive drug laws will be kept on the books. They regard it as a moral obligation to implement punitive social control systems without regard to actual outcomes.

      Any pleasure not got from grovelling before their imaginary celestial friend is sinful, and must be fought no matter the cost. (Externalizing the "costs" of being "righteous" is easy, ask the Taliban.) Damage mitigation isn't even on the table.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamhigh (1252742)
      Awesome idea! You and the 30 other comments modded up saying the same basic thing. Now, how come nothing every happens? Because it is illegal! You can't bring it up willy-nilly if you have a job, like I do. You can't go around espousing the grand ideas marijuana legalization without raising some suspicion that you smoke it. Great now my boss, neighbor, landlord and the cop down the street think I am a "criminal".

      So we can name a million reasons why it shouldn't be illegal, but until it is actually
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:16AM (#29161019) Journal

    Prohibition II may soon be over.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:28AM (#29161083)

      Canada already turns a blind eye to small time Pot. (Check out the documentary The Union [theunionmovie.com])

      USA has the highest rate of incarcerated people per capita of any country other than possibly China. (who doesn't release stats like that)

      I can come home and destroy my liver after a long day at work, but I can't sit down and enjoy some THC?

      • by DirtyCanuck (1529753) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:38AM (#29161125)

        Except our new government (Conservatives) have lost their minds and are pushing mandatory minimum sentences.

        The Union discusses the extradition of Marc Emory. At this point and time Marc is going to jail. Further failings of Canadian sovereignty and our failtard government.

        We need to take charge as people and raise this issue. It's broader than simply people getting to ingest their drugs. It's about the corrupted War On Drugs mentality that fuels the legal monster which eats hard working and law abiding citizens in the name of meeting a quota.

        • by catmistake (814204) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:20AM (#29161331) Journal

          At this point and time Marc is going to jail.

          This is rather absurd, isn't it? The world economy is in the shitter, the US debt out of control, violent crime rises as does unemployment... yet these moronic, relentless conservatives in the Justice Dept. somehow believe they deserve a pat on the back for spending ?millions battling Canada for extradition of a single man that sold... seed. And our taxes will be paying to board him for a few years.

          I'd like to ask these idiots: "in what way has the pursuit of prosecution of Marc Emory NOT hurt America?"

  • by u4ya (1248548) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:17AM (#29161027) Homepage
    Ending prohibition of drugs would eliminate the underground market, would stop the funding of terrorist groups, would do MORE for treating drug addicts, and would save the billions currently spent annually on prohibition and incarceration of drug offenders. We need to treat drug use and drug abuse as a health issue, not a criminal issue. We need free choice for consenting adults, not a nanny-state solution imposed by the government.
    • by snappyjack (1147601) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:32AM (#29161097)
      Not to mention the fact that the drugs would be much more trustworthy; nobody would risk cutting their product with something harmful if there were a legal paper trail back to their business. The other danger of cutting, even with a harmless substance, is that it's impossible to know the true concentration of the drug when you buy it. This is exceptionally significant when talking about drugs with low dose and high potency, like LSD. If the system were regulated with laws allowing the consumer to inquire exactly what's in the substances they buy, the system would be worlds safer.
    • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:51AM (#29161199) Homepage

      The nanny state stuff is getting to be real nonsense. A state the values it citizens and attempts to preserve their lives is not nor ever was a nanny state. If fact the whole nanny state nonsense came about as a result of limits placed upon private interests and their ability to exploit the citizens of a nation.

      Prison for drug users is not a nanny state solution, how could anyone consider the idea that preventing someone from using drug by imprisoning them for thirty years or more in harsh, violent and dehumanising institutions is what a nanny would recommend.

      Destroying drug users was blatant knee jerk politics, peoples lives were destroyed so hard on crime arse holes could get elected. The war on drugs straight from hollywood movie scripts to real life, a fantasy becomes a real life nightmare, brought to you by what was nothing but a shallow self serving actor, who acted the part and used the best PR techniques and mass media to created an illusion that did not preserve the lives of millions of people but destroyed them and in the process sent billions of dollars up in smoke.

      Not only was this not bad enough but, via threats of economic and military punishments this stupidity was forced on other countries, literally billions of peoples lives affected, so that some of the most worthless scum on the planet could empower and enrich themselves. Instead of throwing drug users in prison, they should have been throwing corrupt politicians and corporate executives in prison, what a different world in would be now if the last thirty years had not be blown on greed and stupidity.

    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:21AM (#29161339)
      Don't bring your bullshit terrorist funding into this argument. I'm all for ending drugs as much as the next guy, but don't even try to tell me that I'm buying pot from Osama Bin Laden every time I get high.
      • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @05:03AM (#29162063) Journal
        I don't know if that still is the case but opium and its derivatives (heroin and morphin, notably) are the main export of Afghanistan and a reason why powerful local warlords do not want to see a democratic government there, fearing it would be subject to international pressure on their traffic.
  • Unless the drug trade is legalized, the gangs and drug cartels will always hold a monopoly on its sale. Decriminalizing minor possession does nothing but keep users on the street where they can continue to fund the gangs.

    Mexico is in the middle of a huge drug war. The fighting is real and assassinations and kidnapping are frequent occurrences. This step seems to be a way of curbing the violence by letting users stay out of the prisons.

    You aren't ever going to win the battle against weeds by cutting the leaves off. You need to pull the plant out by the root.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Loconut1389 (455297)

      The problem will likely be that they won't legalize the sale. If they only allow enough for personal use, the traditional dealers are out, and if they don't let people get licenses to sell or let doctors prescribe it (what doctor would prescribe meth? coke maybe.. but meth?) then the point of allowing possesion is sort of like DVDs and DECSS. "Sure, you can make backup copies! But no, sorry, you can't sell the software that can make them."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vintermann (400722)

      I don't know why I bother replying, but...

      First, "Drug cartels" is not a monopoly. There are more than one.

      Second, look at the tobacco industry. Tobacco has always been legal, but people who profit from human suffering at that scale have always been, and will always be, scum. Sure, legal drug cartels might finance fewer gangs, but they'd finance more lobbyists instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How to build and support a R.A.I.D. (redundant array of independent (drug) dealers).

    Now dealers will have backups and if one gets taken down, don't worry! There's another one that can be brought 'online' to do his workload. And it's all legal since they each only deal in small amounts!

    Just remember: RAID != BACKUP!!

  • Well considering the smallest amount normally sold in North America is on average 100mg, (0.1g), does this mean all meth users are going to be criminals regardless?
  • by tufa.king.nerdy (1622029) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:37AM (#29161119)
    With some positive results. Drug dealers still go to jail, but addicts go to treatment centers. Their main goal was to reduce deaths due to overdose which, five years later dropped as well as users infected by dirty needles. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization [scientificamerican.com]
  • legalization (Score:3, Informative)

    by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:43AM (#29161145)

    Legalization is necessary; our society simply can't keep paying for prosecuting and incarcerating non-violent drug users, or the criminal activity resulting from the drug trade. However, full legalization is going to be tough: both drug dealers and drug enforcement agencies (including the UN) have a strong financial interest in keeping drugs illegal. And the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs [wikipedia.org] makes it hard for any single nation to change the status quo. That's one of the reasons why it's been hard for any nation to legalize drugs.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:58AM (#29161237) Journal

    The war on drugs is over. Everybody lost.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:30AM (#29161403)
      Wars typically end that way.
    • by copponex (13876) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:42AM (#29162853) Homepage

      In the early part of the 20th Century, you could not corner the market for pain relief. People had access to opiates and cannabis and coca products, which were cheap, natural, and if you weren't an addict, perfectly effective.

      Since the prohibition of these drugs, there has been a network of businesses that have profited immensely. Pharmaceuticals, who effectively eliminated competition, profited early on. They get to sell pain relief with products which are still derived from the same natural source, but have the benefits of being riddled with horrible side effects and hundreds of times more expensive for the consumer.

      Then the CIA discovered a fantastic way to fund their unconstitutional undercover operations. They could use the US military to transport the drugs they bought for peanuts in Columbia to fund all kinds of insane bullshit around the world, and they wouldn't have to consult any committee because they didn't need their money.

      Now, private prisons are all over the country, and all of the sudden we have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the known world. (We also have the highest per capita health care cost in the world. Get the picture?) Prison guard unions, manufacturers of certain products, and I'll bet even commercial building lobbyists make damn sure the politicians deliver on promises to "clean up the streets," which is code for throw undesirably poor people in jail. Of course, we do need somewhere to throw our mentally ill citizens, why not mix in the schizophrenics with non-violent drug offenders and murderers and rapists and white collar criminals and see what happens?

      So, the winners in the drug war are huge corporations that make a profit when someone is punished, when someone needs pain relief, and also the unconstitutional CIA.

      As Plato said, "The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

  • by j. andrew rogers (774820) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:20AM (#29161335)

    Total decriminalization of drugs has been tried in Portugal since 2001, and by all accounts has been a raging success by just about any metric you care to use. I'm happy to see other countries jumping on board the clue train, not that I expect to see something similar in the US for the foreseeable future.

    For more on the Portuguese experience, see: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/14/portugal/ [salon.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:24AM (#29161365)

    Ok, all of yours like to legalize drugs. You see this law with the light of US law enforcement, where things are always "perfect". I live in Mexico, and this will be just another excuse for cops avoid to do their work and let people sell drugs on streets, as it happens now. This only will encourage drug groups for sell more and more drugs always under the "dangerous size" and with time to not fear cops or any law enforcement groups . Like happens in Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and the rest of the country.

    It's easy for you say "bring me the drugs", you don't fear everyday to end in middle of a gun shooting for drug wars. Or a stoned dude does a silly thing like jump in the subway or harm you for money for get the "personal share" of drugs. You live so far of those troubles and of course is easy to say that, so you need drugs to "spark" your mediocre lifes. Bunch of hypocrites.

    I'll surprised if this won't be cut off of the site. :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) *

      I live in Mexico, and this will be just another excuse for cops avoid to do their work and let people sell drugs on streets, as it happens now.

      You are right. Get the drug sellers off the streets and put them behind counters. Make the cops do their jobs enforcing regulations, not prohibitions. This is the road to drug peace.

      It's easy for you say "bring me the drugs", you don't fear everyday to end in middle of a gun shooting for drug wars.

      When have you feared being shot by alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine ca

    • by PieSquared (867490) <isosceles2006NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:22AM (#29163715)
      Here's your problem: you talk like letting people sell drugs is a bad thing. This isn't true - it's the crime related to selling drugs illegally that's a bad thing. Completely legalize drugs and you'll have as much crime associated with them as you have associated with cigarettes. You'll be as afraid of drug dealers as you are of your local convenience store clerk. Hell, there won't *be* streetcorner drug dealers, it will be your convenience store clerk doing the selling!

      Look at America - during prohibition organized crime in the form of the Mafia became rampant. It was a bad time. The solution? Legalize alcohol. This, of course, didn't make the Mafia go away, but stealing their most lucrative trade and giving it to the business world was the first step. Things are worse in Mexico, of course, but the first step remains the same.
  • by borcharc (56372) * on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:07AM (#29161561)

    AP piece says 0.015 mg of LSD, or 15 ug, a ineffective dose of LSD. 60-100 ug is common for street doses. Perhaps the AP misread the law and its 150 ug, a more realistic number compared to the other amounts.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @07:16AM (#29162497) Journal

    Both THC and psylocibin are known to NOT cause addiction. Also, users of these drugs do NOT show aggressive behavior (unlike with other drugs, especially alcohol (yep, that's right, that's one of the worst)). In light of this, I think it's high time to completely legalize the production, sale and consumption of these drugs. If that happened, I would expect that the consumption of the "harder" drugs would decrease as well, for two reasons:

    1) Some people won't need the harder drugs, if they can access these other two aplenty.
    2) By legalizing these drugs, of which marijuana is a very popular one, we reduce the contact between users and illegal dealers, who have a vested interest in encouraging the use of harder drugs such as cocaine, heroine etc.

    I was quite depressed a couple of years ago, and the psychiatrist wanted to prescribe me an anti-depressant. Instead of using the prescription, I decided to educate myself on anti-depressants, and what I found was, well, depressing: not a single anti-depressant on sale is safe to use. They all have side effects that are either nasty or very nasty. But psylocibin and THC are both excellent anti-depressants (practically the most effective ones), and have NO side effects. This is when I started to become a supporter of legalization of these drugs.

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:51AM (#29163189)

    Here's something that amazes me about the war on drugs. The USA learnt the hard way that prohibition couldn't work. Yet even after learning their lesson they still tried the same fucking thing over again. It's been a continuous failure for decades, but it's still going on. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", but everyone remembers the prohibition. Everyone knows who Al Capone is, and everyone knows who Manuel Noriega or Pablo Escobar are, yet we fail to draw the parallels.

    Well the problem is that in order to do the necessary changes you need the public opinion to back you strongly, and an administration with the political capital to make that happen. So it's no wonder it didn't happen before when political campaigns made the war on drug seem like a desirable thing, but for all we know the American public opinion may be soon ready for that to happen.

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