For nearly half a century the United States has driven much of the world bat shit crazy with its insane War on Drugs. That undertaking even trumped the other obsession of waging war on terrorism when, in May 2001, President George W. Bush authorized a payment of $43 million to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as a bribe to eradicate that nation’s opium crop. Four months later Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda, protected by that same Taliban, launched the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
But one need not travel to Afghanistan for comparable examples of the disastrous consequences of the War on Drugs. Just look south. Mexico, in particular, has been torn apart by what is in effect a civil war between drug lords and the federal police over who controls public life. But now, finally, Mexico and other Latin American countries are showing signs of having had enough.
In November 2015 Mexico’s supreme court laid the groundwork for legalizing marijuana by determining that it is a protected human right for individuals to grow and smoke weed for personal use. The New York Times reported, “The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed antidrug campaign has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories.… The country, dispirited by the ceaseless campaign against traffickers, remains engulfed in violence.”
Drug-policy shifts are on the rise throughout the Western Hemisphere. Justin Trudeau recently swept to victory as the new prime minister of Canada after admitting to having occasionally smoked pot—even as a member of Parliament!—and pledging to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis. His argument was similar to that of the Mexican supreme court, namely that Canada’s drug war has been a counterproductive fiasco. And Trudeau’s Liberal Party platform noted that “proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.”